Apple is expected to continue offering four iPhones in 2021, with no changes to the sizes. So we can expect a 5.4-inch iPhone mini, a 6.1-inch low-cost iPhone, a 6.1-inch Pro model, and a 6.7-inch Pro Max model.
The 2021 iPhone models are not expected to feature major design changes because the 2020 iPhone models marked a significant technology and design overhaul. According to Bloomberg, Apple engineers consider the 2021 iPhones to be an “S” version of the 2020 models. Apple has in the past used the “S” nomenclature in years where iPhone models featured more minor updates.
According to Japanese site Mac Otakara, the new iPhones will be the same size as the iPhone 12 models, but thickness could increase by approximately 0.26mm.
Apple’s longtime goal has been an iPhone with no external ports or buttons for a clean, streamlined device. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in 2019 that Apple would release a high-end iPhone in 2021 that offers a “completely wireless experience” with the removal of the Lightning port.
Such an iPhone would presumably charge solely using Qi-based wireless charging, but that would require some significant enhancements in wireless charging speed. One rumor has also indicated the possibility that Apple could perhaps adopt a Smart Connector for the 2021 iPhone, which would allow for charging, data transfer and syncing without a Lightning port.
At the current time, Smart Connectors have been limited to the iPad models and have been restricted to powering accessories like the Smart Keyboard.
Bloomberg says that Apple is mulling removing the Lightning port on some iPhone models in favor of wireless charging.
Japanese site Mac Otakara in June shared a mockup of a 2021 iPhone featuring a USB-C port and a notch-free design, but it’s not clear if it’s an accurate depiction of what we can expect, nor do we know if Apple plans on slimming down or eliminating the notch in the 2021 devices. A USB-C port is not in line with rumors of no ports at all.
Japanese site Mac Otakara has also said that the TrueDepth camera will be shallower because the receiver at the top of the display is being relocated to the edge of the case. This will allow for a design that’s thinner rather than shorter.
The thinner notch design has also been echoed by a leaker that believes Apple will introduce a smaller notch in the 2021 iPhone lineup. Rather than being shorter in width, the notch may have a reduced height to make it less noticeable and better able to blend in to the top of the iPhone.
DigiTimes believes the notch on the iPhone 13 models will “shrink” in size, becoming smaller. A new camera design is said to integrate the Rx, Tx, and flood illuminator into the same camera module to allow for the smaller size.
Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes Apple is working on an iPhone with both Face ID and an on-display fingerprint sensor for launch in 2021, which suggests that one of the 2021 iPhones could perhaps have both Face ID and Touch ID.
According to Bloomberg, Apple is is testing an in-screen Touch ID fingerprint reader that would mark a major change to the biometric systems that Apple has used for flagship devices since the launch of the iPhone X.
The fingerprint sensor would be made available in addition to Face ID, and would be convenient for iPhone users who cannot unlock their iPhones with facial recognition when using masks.