The number 13 is unlucky for some, but in the case of iPhone 13, we can expect this to be as big a seller as ever for the Cupertino giants.
Apple has really refined their mobile devices in recent years and the latest offerings are consistent in every area.
Battery life, cameras, screens and software are all so rock solid in terms of performance, are Apple in danger of making a generation of products so good, customers have no need to upgrade?
The answer is a resounding ‘NO’
Apple are the masters of marketing and getting loyal customers to upgrade their mobile devices. The typical returning Apple customer will upgrade their iPhone ever 24 months, staying in a rolling contract. This is despite of the phones themselves looking very similar to the previous years, and in general the software is exactly the same as the device they are upgrading from.
It is the ‘must have’ factor of the latest iPhone that snares many upgrading customers, the magic in the marketing.
Apple also supports their devices very well, future proofing them for regular software and security updates.
This has an effect on the resale market, and an effect for the better. Preowned, used iPhones hold a higher premium resale value than similarly priced Android devices from new. Yet another reason for the Apple user to stick with their trusted iPhone.
So, where does Apple go with iPhone 13?
iPhone 13 Screens
iPhone doesn’t have the biggest screen, the highest definition or even the brightest screens on the market. Those accolades usually go to Android manufacturers (typically Samsung – one of the biggest mobile screen makers in the world)
What Apple does brilliantly in this regard, is colour reproduction. iPhone screens just always look amazing, with natural colours and a consistent high quality across every device. Apple does not manufacture their own panels and generally partners with Samsung or other companies. Apple ensures they get their screens made to a high standard and the quality of the panel, not if it is the highest definition panel or not, is the most important thing.
They have proven to be right in this regard; while 2k panels look great, they are more power hungry and not really that far ahead of a high-quality full HD panel. Most phone users are not enthusiasts or spec junkies; they just want a quality, consistent experience.
So, for iPhone 13, we don’t expect too much to change with regards panel output. What may be in the pipeline however, is a reduction in the ‘forehead’ that houses the front facing cameras. This has been present for quite a few years now and Apple could be making moves to reduce and in the coming years, eliminate this forehead. That almost certainly will not be this year however, as the technology for under screen cameras is still in its’ infancy. Apple will not commit to tech like this until it is refined and reliable.
There may be a bump in screen frequency for all iPhone 13 models, with up to 120hz screens mooted. They do have more of a power draw on the battery however, so this may not be an attractive option for Apple. iOS is very well optimised already and a slightly smoother screen experience for a much worse battery experience may out them off.
The iPhone Pro models will get any big updates first as they house the biggest batteries. Apple may go with a Pro screen for their Pro devices with iPhone 13, but leaks are few and far between at the time of writing.
iPhone 13 Cameras
iPhone 12 models really hit home runs last year with a definite, noticeable improvement across the board on all models. The iPhone Pro models will of course get more cameras and more features, but even the standard iPhone 12 (and 13 this year) have the excellent wide color gamut and fast accurate processing.
Expect the software processing to continue to improve, with better computational photography improvements incoming. Night shots and portrait shots will get the biggest attention as they are typically more spectacular when shown off to the public.
Video on iPhone is expected to get better and be the best in the market, as always. Apple is far ahead of Android when it comes to shooting high quality usable video from a phone and this is expected to continue with iPhone 13.
iPhone 13 Software
Apple users love that fact that their phones are reliable and familiar; iOS has not significantly changed year on year since it’s inception. All the incremental improvements have really added up however and Apple now has a mature, flexible OS – iOS14, to offer their consumers. Apps always work better on iPhone over Android; a single OS is much easier to develop for in terms of speed and performance than a fragmented OS like Android. Apple has also now introduced widgets and screen customisation, something previously unavailable. While the skin will never have the flexibility and customisation that Android can offer, it more than makes up for that in terms of OS speed and reliability.
One area when iPhone falls behind Android is notifications. Some improvements here would be welcome and Apple could really look to Android for some inspiration here. The latest version of iOS will not be announced with the phones at this Keynote though, this is usually left for the software/developer keynotes.
Expect iOS 15 to include minor improvements and possibly some alignment of Mac OS and iOS.
iPhone 13 Hardware
iPhone 12 brought the biggest form factor change in years to the iPhone series. Yet, it was not so much a change as a throw back to the past. The current hardware is very similar to iPhone 5 and the ‘boxier’ models of the past. This squared off, clean form factor has proven popular with customers and reviewers alike and we can continue to see this in iPhone 13 and beyond.
Apple will likely keep the current generations form factors for the 2021 lineup, with Mini, Standard, Max & Pro models all available for customers to choose from. Where Apple will change things up is probably in terms of the colours and finish offered, with camera orientations, side rails and body finishes all up for change. Matte coloured and finished phones are proving very popular with today’s discerning customer, as they are smudge and fingerprint friendly.
Expect the range of Magsafe options to improve too for 2021. A wider range of accessories will surely become available and they should perform much better too, with stronger but device friendly magnets securing chargers, wallets etc.
The likelihood of any big surprises is small, with Apple generally keeping this very safe in terms of it’s consumer offerings. Touch ID is unlikely to make a comeback just yet, with Apple very happy with ace ID and the security it offers. The decline of the Coronavirus pandemic with the rollout of the vaccines will help too as customers lose the masks and the obstruction to Face ID dwindles.
Apple doesn’t shock the world anymore or revolutionise the phone market like it did in years gone by. What they do, and do very successfully, is make solid reliable phones with a model to satisfy most needs and budget. Sales will likely continue to grow slowly year on year, if not plateau, but will still be in the hundreds of millions in terms of device sales each year.
You know you are buying quality when you choose iPhone. Keep an close eye on our news page for further info throughout 2021.