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iPhone 13 to reportedly feature always-on display — here's how it could work

iphone 13 render
(Image credit: LetsGoDigital)

The rumored upcoming iPhone 13 line-up could include an always-on display, a feature of the Apple Watch Series 6 and one that's common on multiple Android phones. 

That's according to the latest report from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, who discussed Apple's next phone in his Power On newsletter, and reiterated rumors of a 120Hz refresh rate and a slimmer display notch for the iPhone 13 and noted it's set to be powered by the so-called A15 Bionic chip

While Android phones, most notably Samsung handsets, have had always-on display for some five years, Apple has dragged its feet with adopting always-on displays for its iPhones. 

Always-on displays are handy for seeing information and notifications at a glance without unlocking your phone. Well-implemented always-on displays can be very handy, with the likes of the OnePlus 8T showing off a smart gauge of how much you've looked at your phone throughout the day. 

Always-on displays can suck up battery life, so there's a compelling argument for Apple to have shunned them thus far. But display tech like LTPO, which enables dynamic refresh rates — the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra can scale down from 120Hz to 10Hz — means always-on displays are less power hungry these days. 

And according to Gurman and other rumors so far, the iPhone 12, or the iPhone 12 Pro models at least, could make use of LTPO panels to facilitate an expected 120Hz refresh rate. As such, an always-on display could be enabled at the same time without compromising the generally solid battery life iPhones tend to deliver. 

iPhone 13 always-on display: What will it do?

iPhone 13 always-on display concept

This iPhone 13 concept from A Better Computer on YouTube shows how Apple could implement an always-on display. (Image credit: A Better Computer/YouTube)

This isn't the first time we've heard rumors of an always-on display for the iPhone 13, as leakers have previously detailed how such a screen could work. Supposedly, the always-on display will let future iPhone 13 users quickly review notifications, battery life and the time of day at a glance with a segment of the iPhone 13's OLED display illuminated with that information. 

While it's only a concept, a video on the A Better Computer YouTube channel shows what an always-on display could look like on iPhone 13. 

Aside from new display tech and features, the iPhone 13 range is expected to get camera upgrades, including an astrophotography feature and portrait mode video, as well as a new chipset that's likely to be called the A15 Bionic. Fast 5G is also reportedly on the way. Unfortunately, the iPhone 13 will may not offer under-display Touch ID, according to a separate Bloomberg report. 

With the iPhone 13 predicted to arrive in September, should not have too long to wait to see which rumors are legitimate. If they do bear fruit, then the iPhone 13 could offer significant upgrades over the iPhone 12

We just hope that Apple boosts all models in the iPhone 13 range to 120Hz and always-on displays rather than leaving some key features for the iPhone 13 Pro only

Denise Primbet

Denise is a news writer at Tom’s Guide covering all things tech, gaming software/hardware, streaming, and more. She regularly produces short-form news articles as well as long-form content, including reviews, buying guides, how-tos, and features. When she's not live-streaming horror games on Twitch, she can be found exploring East London while playing Pokemon Go. She’s also a part-time piano enthusiast and regularly experiments in the kitchen. You can reach her at denise.primbet@futurenet.com.