iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 12: Everything we think Apple will change this year

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The iPhone 13 could be arriving imminently to dethrone the iPhone 12.


Sarah Tew/CNET
This story is part of Apple Event, our full coverage of the latest news from Apple.

Apple’s newest iPhone might be nearly here, but you don’t have to count out the iPhone 12 just yet. The iPhone 13 might well arrive at a reveal event that Apple is holding later today, and is rumored to have new features, an updated design and some camera upgrades. Depending on your budget, last year’s iPhone 12 or even the iPhone 11iPhone SE or the rumored iPhone SE 3 could be best for you. But if you’re pumped to get your hands on the newest from Apple, the iPhone 13 could be the way to go. 

Typically following the devices’ reveal at a September or October event, a potential release date for the iPhone 13 would likely be 10 days or so later. We’ve collected all of the early rumors around the iPhone 13’s specs, including price, cameras, display size and resolution and the four models that could be arriving soon, to help you plan your potential purchase. 

Read more: Should you still buy an iPhone 12? What about an iPhone 11 or an iPhone SE?

Here are the rumors we’ve heard so far about the iPhone 13’s specs, and how they might compare to the iPhone 12. Just note that none of these iPhone 13 specs have been confirmed by Apple. Plus, here’s how the iPhone 12 compares to the iPhone 11 and all the iPhones you can buy in 2021.


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Top 5 most exciting iPhone 13 rumors

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We could see four iPhone 13 models

Like the iPhone 12, the iPhone 13 will come in four models, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo: the iPhone 13, the iPhone 13 Mini, the iPhone 13 Pro and the iPhone 13 Pro Max. A filing made by Apple with the Federal Communications Commission lends further credence to this rumor, in which there are four “New phone” models that would potentially work with a new version of Apple’s MagSafe charger.

Read more: iPhone 13 vs. 13 Mini vs. 13 Pro vs. 13 Pro Max: All the rumored specs differences

Different phone and camera sizes

The iPhone 13 and 13 Pro models may end up being thicker than their iPhone 12 predecessors, according to a May MacRumors report. Both of the new models are expected to be 7.57mm thick, up from 7.4mm in the iPhone 12 models. However, that’s a pretty small difference that most people probably won’t notice. 

More sizable could be a change to the camera bump, MacRumors reported: While the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro have camera bumps around 1.5mm to 1.7mm, the iPhone 13’s bump will be 2.51mm, and the 13 Pro’s will be 3.56mm. The increased size will prevent the lenses from sticking out as much as they do on the older phones. 

iphone-13-and-iphone-12-thickness

The iPhone 13 may be a bit more thick than the iPhone 12. 


MacRumors

The iPhone 13 could cost more than the iPhone 12

The iPhone 13 isn’t expected to be a major technical upgrade from the iPhone 12, which was the first to include 5G support, but according to an August report from DigiTimes, Apple is considering raising the price for it 2021 lineup to compensate for the increased cost of chip production from its supplier TSMC. Apple’s supplier is looking to up the cost by as much as 20% for “advanced and mature process technologies” by January 2022, the report says. It’s unclear, based on the report, how much the iPhone price could increase exactly. 

Analysts previously predicted that the iPhone 13 will cost around the same as the iPhone 12, the base version of which starts at $799. It’s also possible that Apple may lower the price of the iPhone 13, as Samsung’s Galaxy S20 FE and Google’s Pixel 5 did in 2020. The newly released Samsung Galaxy S21 also boasted a lower price tag, starting at $200 lower than its predecessor.

Here’s the iPhone 12’s US pricing, for reference: 

iPhone 12 US pricing

iPhone 12 model 64GB 128GB 256GB 512GB
iPhone 12 Mini (carrier model) $699 $749 $849 N/A
iPhone 12 Mini (SIM-free from Apple) $729 $779 $879 N/A
iPhone 12 (carrier model) $799 $849 $949 N/A
iPhone 12 (SIM-free from Apple) $829 $879 $979 N/A
iPhone 12 Pro N/A $999 $1,099 $1,299
iPhone 12 Pro Max N/A $1,099 $1,199 $1,399

Improved refresh rates

Most phones (including the iPhone 12) refresh at 60 frames per second, or 60Hz, but some, like the Galaxy S21 and the OnePlus 8 Pro, refresh at 120Hz. There is speculation that the iPhone 13’s display will have a 120Hz refresh rate (and an always-on OLED display). The higher the refresh rate, the faster and smoother a phone feels when scrolling through apps and websites. While this was rumored for the iPhone 12 as well, it seems more likely to happen this time around.

New and enhanced cameras

The iPhone 12 camera array includes regular, ultrawide and selfie cameras, night mode photos on all cameras, improved HDR mode, a telephoto lens (on the Pro and Pro Max models) and 2.5x zoom (on the Pro Max only).

As is typically the case with new iPhones, you can expect the iPhone 13’s cameras to be upgraded over the iPhone 12. We’ve heard rumors of an added periscope camera to improve zoom, an improved ultrawide-angle lens for night mode photography, and lidar technology on all models, instead of just the Pro and Pro Max, as was the case with the iPhone 12.

Stay up-to-date on the latest news, reviews and advice on iPhones, iPads, Macs, services and software.

The return of Touch ID

The iPhone 13 could bring back Touch ID for the first time since the iPhone 8, with a big difference: It might be embedded under the screen, instead of as a separate button that takes up phone real estate. Some were expecting this to happen with the iPhone 12, but had also said it could get pushed to the next model. Alas, the iPhone 12 lineup lacks a Touch ID button. It’s worth noting that Apple’s 2020 iPad Air integrated a Touch ID button onto the side of the device. This would be a great addition this year in particular, since Face ID doesn’t work when wearing a mask (unless you have an Apple Watch and iOS 14.5, that is). 

A Lightning port, but no headphone jack

The iPhone 12 doesn’t have a headphone jack, and we don’t expect any iPhone 13 models to have one either. But the Lightning port may be another story, now that Apple has introduced MagSafe charging capabilities. Kuo predicts that the iPhone 13 models will still include Lightning ports, with the exception of the iPhone 13 Pro Max, which could be completely portless. The iPhone 12, by contrast, featured a Lightning port on all four models.

Read more: The best ways to sell or trade in your old iPhone

Until Apple formally announces the iPhone 13, all we can do is speculate how it could compare to the iPhone 12. In the meantime, here’s how the iPhone 12 compares to the iPhone 11, whether you should buy an iPhone 12, iPhone 11 or iPhone SE and everything coming in iOS 15. You can also check out other rumored Apple products like the Apple Watch 7, AirPods 3 and iPad Mini 6

Rumored Apple iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 12 specs

iPhone 13 iPhone 12
Display size 6.1-inch OLED 6.1-inch OLED
Refresh rate 120Hz 60Hz
Cameras Regular, ultrawide, selfie, periscope Regular, ultrawide, selfie, telephoto (Pro Max)
Fingerprint sensor Yes No
Connector Lightning, except in Pro Max Lightning
Headphone jack No No
Price (US) $799 $799

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