What to Expect From Apple’s iPhone 13 Event (Hint: iPhones)

What to Expect From Apple’s iPhone 13 Event (Hint: iPhones)
Screenshot: Apple

Product launch season is here, and that means it’s about time to gear up for Apple’s annual September event. Like last year, ongoing production issues and supply chain woes probably mean we’re going to see multiple launch events this spring. That said, we’re pretty sure next week’s event will centre around the iPhone 13.

The event kicks off next Wednesday, September 15 at 3 a.m. AEST. Apple sent out invites with a cryptic tagline — this time “California Streaming” — and we’ll probably spend the next few days pondering what that could mean. But until then, we’ve rounded up everything we expect to see next week.

Will We See the iPhone 13?

Yep, there are no delays for the iPhone this year. We fully expect to see four iPhone 13 models showcased next week. As with the iPhone 12 lineup, expect to see an iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro Max, and iPhone 13 Mini. We’re also not expecting a lot of changes in terms of display size, materials, or the overall look of the phone itself.

Design-wise, the biggest change we’re anticipating is a smaller notch, with some speculating that Apple will adopt the hole-punch design you see on some Android phones. Other previously leaked renders showed the notch shrinking by almost half. (Sorry, but the notchless phone we saw in that one Ted Lasso episode was likely a post-production VFX error.)

The iPhone 13 is also expected to have four models in the same sizes as the iPhone 12. (Photo: Caitlin McGarry/Gizmodo) The iPhone 13 is also expected to have four models in the same sizes as the iPhone 12. (Photo: Caitlin McGarry/Gizmodo)

Besides the notch, we’ve also consistently heard that the Pro models may get 120Hz displays that utilise LTPO tech. (We’ve seen LTPO displays on the Apple Watch, but it essentially is a more battery-efficient display that enables a variable refresh rate.) The iPhone 13 lineup will also get a new, faster A15 chip, as well as bigger batteries. It’s also probably no surprise that Apple’s beefing up the iPhone 13’s cameras as well.

Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted earlier this year that the iPhone 13 will feature an upgraded ultra-wide camera and improved low-light performance. We’re also expecting to see more video features, including a video portrait mode, new filters, and ProRes format for editing. Also possible is a stronger magnet array (and a new MagSafe charger), plus support for Wi-Fi 6E.

Another recent rumour we’ve heard is that the iPhone 13 will support satellite connectivity, which would enable users to text and call if they’re in an area without 4G or 5G. However, this is one rumour you should be sceptical of. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman — one of the most reliable Apple prognosticators — says this is a big bag of phooey. According to Gurman, the iPhone 13 might have the hardware to support this in the future, but it’s not something that’ll be announced this year.

The one rumour we’re not too thrilled with is the iPhone 13 lineup may be more expensive than initially expected. It’s unclear whether that’ll be true across all four models, or just the two Pro models. In any case, if the iPhone 13 is pricier, you have the global chip shortage to thank for that.

What About New AirPods?

It feels like it’s been 86 years since we first caught wind of the AirPods 3, but it looks like we might finally get to see them next week.

The AirPods 3 are expected to borrow some design features from the AirPods Pro — think shorter stem and a smaller case. Initial predictions also mentioned silicone ear tips, but those were nowhere to be seen in several leaked photos and renders in recent months. However, it seems that’s about as far as Apple’s going. Don’t expect to see premium features like active noise cancellation or Spatial Audio — you’ll have to splurge on the AirPods Pro for those.

Think these, but with smaller stems. (Photo: Adam Clark Estes/Gizmodo) Think these, but with smaller stems. (Photo: Adam Clark Estes/Gizmodo)

It’s also possible Apple will add the U1 ultra-wideband chip to the AirPods 3. iOS 15 will add Precision Finding in the Find My app for the AirPods Pro and AirPods Max, and to use it, people will have to link the AirPods to their Apple ID. Apple’s added the U1 chip to many of its more recent products, so it’s not unreasonable to think that might extend to the AirPods 3. (Whom amongst us hasn’t gotten down on their hands and knees searching for a lost AirPod?) Then again, the U1 chip was absent from the ludicrously expensive AirPods Max, so we’ll just have to see.

Will the iPad Mini Finally Get a Redesign?

Pandemic lockdowns translated to stellar tablet sales in 2020, so it’s not surprising that Apple is keen on revamping its iPad lineup. This time around, it looks like it’s the iPad Mini’s turn.

The iPad Mini might be taking design cues from the iPad Air (pictured above). (Photo: Caitlin McGarry/Gizmodo) The iPad Mini might be taking design cues from the iPad Air (pictured above). (Photo: Caitlin McGarry/Gizmodo)

Supposedly, the new iPad Mini will feature the most significant redesign for the product since it first launched. That means slimmer bezels and no home button. We could also see a miniLED display, as we did with the 12.9-inch iPad Pro this past spring. The iPad Mini is also expected to be slightly larger, somewhere in the range of 8.5 to 9 inches.

Spec-wise, the Mini is rumoured to getting an A15 processor — the same as the iPhone 13 lineup. It’s also thought the Mini will be getting USB-C and a Smart Connector, which hints Apple’s perhaps cooking up some accessories and peripherals for the device.

What’s All This About the Apple Watch Getting Bigger?

Compared to the Series 6 and the Watch SE, there haven’t been as many rumours surrounding the Apple Watch Series 7. What we do know, however, is that like the iPad Mini, the Series 7 will get the most significant visual redesign since the Apple Watch first launched in 2015.

Leaked photos and renders show a flat-edged design that calls back to the iPhone 12 (and the early iPhones before that). It’s also rumoured that the displays will also be slightly larger at 41mm and 45mm. However, it’s also a toss-up as to whether the Series 7 will truly launch next week. Due to the redesign, Apple reportedly had to reconfigure the internal components as well. That’s caused some production issues, and it depends on whether Apple can smooth those problems over in time.

We might end up hearing the announcement, but having to wait a while before we actually get to see the product. Or, like last year, Apple might end up holding a separate Apple Watch event.

A peep of the mindfulness sessions coming to watchOS 8. (Photo: Victoria Song/Gizmodo) A peep of the mindfulness sessions coming to watchOS 8. (Photo: Victoria Song/Gizmodo)

As for features, don’t expect anything too mind-blowing in terms of health-tracking. While the Series 6 introduced an SpO2 sensor and blood oxygen readings, this generation of Apple Watch — and watchOS 8 — is expected to focus more on mindfulness. We do know that Apple is tinkering with a lot of advanced health features down the line, but those are unlikely to debut with the Series 7. For example, we’d heard a few murmurs of blood glucose monitoring for the Series 7, but it increasingly looks like that won’t pan out.

Will Apple Announce New Apple TV+ Shows?

We’re absolutely not expecting a new Apple TV so soon after Apple introduced a new model earlier this year with a refreshed Apple TV 4K. However, it’s really hard to ignore the streaming bit of the ‘California Streaming’ tagline on the event invite. While that could just be a reference to the fact the event is being live-streamed, it wouldn’t take us by complete surprise if Apple decided to announce some new titles for its premium TV service.

When Will We See M1X MacBooks?

We’ve been expecting new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBooks that use Apple’s next-gen M1 chip for a while now. They’re definitely coming sometime this year. It’s just not that likely that Apple will tack them onto its iPhone event. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman contends that it’s likely we’ll see the computers sometime before the end of November. As we mentioned earlier, it’s increasingly likely that Apple will hold multiple launch events this spring and we expect the two new MacBooks (and possibly a high-end Mac Mini) will debut then. But then again, this is Apple and they always love to surprise you with One More Thing — so who can say?

The wait is almost over, and as always, Gizmodo’s entire consumer tech team will be live-blogging the whole shebang next Tuesday. We’ll be ready with hot takes and analysis, along with a generous helping of chaos, so stay tuned.