Even though it’ll be many months until the iPhone 13 gets its grand reveal, we’ve already been treated to a bevvy of leaks detailing some possible headline inclusions in Apple’s next flagship – and they all sound quite familiar.
It’s hardly unusual for Apple to recycle features we’ve seen on Android devices for its own phones. It also usually doing a better job implementing them in the process.
The big three leaked additions for the iPhone 13 we’ve heard about this week are all Android stalwarts – 120Hz screens, always-on displays and an astrophotography mode that lets you take improved pictures of the night sky.
The 120Hz display seems like a given. It felt like we were so close to getting this on the iPhone 12, with leakers even showing pre-production models of the phone with the option visible. It didn’t come to pass though, and the iPhone 12 series launched with the standard 60Hz panel.
Pick up any major Android flagship, mid-ranger or even one of our best cheap phones (the Moto G30 being the latest) and the chances are you’ll find a display faster than 60Hz. A faster variable refresh rate not only helps with gaming and offers smoother scrolling, but if it is done correctly it can help save battery life.
Apple’s reticence to bring this feature to the iPhone is even more baffling as it’s been used with excellent results on the iPad Pro. Here it’s called ProMotion and it’s one of the tablets biggest selling points.
The use of the 120Hz variable refresh rate display should go hand-in-hand with the addition of an always-on display. This is another handy Android stalwart that shows glanceable content on your display even when the phone isn’t being used. The recent leaks suggest you’ll also have the battery and clock visible, along with notifications as they come in.
We’ve seen this feature on Android phones for years, with certain manufacturers like Xiaomi and Oppo really leaning into the customisability of these displays. Some phones do it well, those that use OLED panels can simply light up the required pixels, but often it can be a real battery drain.
Apple isn’t completely in the dark with always-on displays, as the previous two Apple Watch models (including the Apple Watch 6) have packed such features. Here, the Watch ramps down the refresh rate to 1Hz to display the time constantly and it seems a given we’ll see something very similar on the iPhone 12.
Finally, there’s talk of an astrophotography mode. Designed to stretch out the exposure to give you better chances of capturing the moon and stars. We’ve had both the Pixel series and Samsung’s recent Galaxy S21 series hype these capabilities heavily and the results are far superior to anything the iPhone can achieve.
While there hasn’t been a dedicated mode for this on an iPhone, you have been able to do something similar by enabling the night mode and attaching the phone to a tripod. We would expect the rumoured mode to build upon this, possibly AI to build out a better photo.
Now, as with any leak, especially ones that come this early, should always be taken with a pretty hefty pinch of salt. But, we really wouldn’t be surprised if these additions made there to an iPhone 13 – or iPhone 12s as some rumours have suggested it will be called.