The iPhone 13 rumour mill picks up steam

Foldable iPhones, always-on displays... the iPhone rumour mill has opened its doors for business.
iPhone 13

The iPhone 12 family of smartphones launched across October and November of 2020, meaning proud new iPhone owners have had around four months to enjoy their new handsets. That’s more than enough time according to the 2021 iPhone rumour mill, which has well and truly kicked into gear this week, fast-tracking buyer’s remorse for those who dared to spend their hard-earned dough on last year’s model. This week we’ve got two new rumours doing the rounds: one regarding an always-on display for the iPhone 13, and one involving the colour options for Apple’s rumoured foldable iPhone Flip (which could be more important than you think).

Typically, there aren’t enough upgrades year-on-year to get yourself too worked up about jumping the gun, but if the rumours about Apple’s foldable phone are true, that might not be the case this year (or even next year). Here’s a brief rundown on the rumours that have cropped up this week, and some you might have missed over the last few months.

iPhone 13: Long-awaited changes on display

Rumours about the Apple iPhone 13’s display have been kicking around since October last year but things are heating up with this week’s rumour that the iPhone 13 will boast an always-on display.

Early reports mostly suggested upgrades many expected with the iPhone 12, like a smaller selfie camera notch, an in-display return for Apple TouchID, and a 120Hz refresh rate courtesy of the low-temperature polycrystalline oxide (LTPO) panels we’ve seen in the Apple Watch since Series 4. The key benefit of using an LTPO display is its power-efficiency, which is becoming more and more important as 5G takes a toll on even the best smartphone batteries. The other benefit of using an LTPO display is that the iPhone 13 could theoretically feature an always-on display, something that Galaxy fans have enjoyed since the Galaxy S7 released in 2016.

Samsung Always-on Display
Always-on display as seen in the Samsung smartphone range

It’s surprising that Apple has taken this long to adopt an always-on display for its smartphones, considering most premium Androids have it in one form or another. For those Apple users who have never had the pleasure, an always-on display uses minimal power to display some of your smartphone’s vitals, even when it’s locked. Simple details, like the time, date and notifications. It just means you can glance at your phone while it’s locked without having to pick it up and wake it from rest for some very basic information.

iPhone Flip: Forecasting a more affordable future for foldables

Whispers of a foldable iPhone date back as far as 2016, when rumours suggested LG would be producing foldable displays en masse for tech rivals Apple and Google. That rumour was given a little more fuel in 2017 when Korean tech site The Investor reported that LG was specifically working with Apple on a foldable display for iPhones.

This week, Front Page Tech’s Jon Prosser (a reliable source of Apple leaks) had his say on what he’s calling the iPhone Flip. Prosser claims that Apple is “leaning heavily in favour of a clamshell” design for the foldable iPhone. So more like the Galaxy Z Flip, rather than the Galaxy Z Fold. That lines up with last year’s rumour that Samsung, not LG, would be providing Apple with its foldable displays (via Weibo).

iPhone Flip render
Here’s a cute little render of what a foldable iPhone Flip might look like courtesy of EveryThingApplePro

Surprisingly, the most important tidbit of information Jon Prosser’s sources conveyed to him was to do with the colours of the foldable iPhone in development. Prosser claims the foldable will come in “multiple fun colours”. That might seem vague, and not all that important, but Apple has traditionally used fun, vibrant colours for its more affordable handsets while limiting the premium range to a smaller mix of professional blacks, greys, golds, whites and silvers. Occasionally with a darker shade of green or blue thrown in as a treat.

Drawing a line between the colour red and an affordable price tag is a stretch, but if it holds true, then Apple could be targeting a wider market with its version of the technology which has so far been hamstrung by its exorbitant price.

In our opinion, a foldable iPhone seems unlikely in the current market. There is an appetite for foldables amongst tech enthusiasts but the unaffordable price of the hardware makes it hard to judge how the broader market would welcome it. We can’t see Apple diving headfirst into the space until there’s a more widespread appeal. It’s the same reason we can’t see Apple launching its VR headset to an apathetic audience without it becoming just another Gear VR, destined to collect dust on the shelf.