How Apple can make iPhone even better in 2021

Every year, new iPhones arrive. 2021 will be no exception. But how will Apple tempt you to open your wallet for the iPhone 13 range?

Some new features are a cert: for example, we’ll see a new, more powerful chip. Other things never change – don’t expect Apple to suddenly slash the price of its phones.

Elsewhere, we’ve racked our brains to think of features the iPhone’s currently missing, and how they would improve your smartphone experience.

So for iPhone 13, we want to see the following:

Apple Pencil support

In 2010, Apple’s then CEO Steve Jobs spoke about touchscreen devices and said: “If you see a stylus, they blew it.” But things change and the modern iPhone is often used for creative and productivity tasks. Should you need to sketch or quickly edit a spreadsheet, a stylus makes things easier. Several scribbling sticks are compatible with iPhone, but Apple Pencil beats them all – so we want it to work with iPhone 13 rather than being limited to iPad.

Touch ID on the power button

COVID has starkly highlighted a limitation of Face ID. When your mug is visible, it’s efficient. When you’re wearing a mask, it’s unusable. The latest iPad Air cleverly incorporated Touch ID into the power button. Apple’s upcoming iPhones should do the same. This wouldn’t be to replace Face ID, but to augment it as a valuable fallback in appropriate situations, reducing the likelihood of you having to laboriously tap in a passcode.

The notch eradicated

Apple’s claim of an all-screen iPhone display is hampered by the ugly notch. On the iPad Pro, Apple avoided this problem by cunningly placing Face ID within the bezel – but that device’s bezel is much thicker than what you’d want on an iPhone. Still, rumors suggest Apple will either reduce the size of the notch in iPhone 13 or eliminate it entirely, thereby removing the last hardware distraction from the device’s front face.

A ProMotion 120Hz display

Remember first setting eyes on a Retina display? After experiencing the sharpness, low-res equivalents were forever ruined to you. The same’s true with ProMotion, which on the iPad Pro makes the interface silky smooth. In the smartphone space, Android has the lead – there are plenty of 120Hz displays already out there. For the iPhone 13, then, Apple can remain competitive by making its flagship smartphone displays even more of a treat for the eyes.

USB-C replace Lightning

Recent iPads use USB-C instead of Lightning, opening up Apple tablets to a world of new accessories. Rumors suggest the iPhone will stick with Lightning, bar one model that won’t have any ports at all. This feels like a mistake. Having a port on an iPhone makes it more ‘pro’ – you can connect storage, attach no-latency hardware like guitar adapters, and retain a wired option for diagnostics. And if there is a port, a de-facto industry standard is a better way forward than Apple’s aging proprietary alternative.

Better optical zoom

All current iPhones take great photos, but they struggle when you zoom in. With the iPhone 12, zooming in is all digital, which results in lower-quality images. But even Apple’s flagship iPhone 12 Pro Max has a 2.5× optical zoom that’s ably beaten by a slew of Android devices. We don’t want your iPhone to turn into a telescope, but more opportunities to take sharp photos of somewhat distant subjects would be welcome.

More storage in base models

Not everyone needs masses of local storage, but modern iPhones are premium products designed to shoot 4K video and high-quality photos. It therefore stands to reason you shouldn’t have to worry too much about running out of space on your iPhone. To that end, Apple’s default 64GB in the iPhone 12 and 12 mini looks miserly, and we hope all iPhone 13 models will have – at least – a more reasonable 128GB.