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‘iPhone 13’ dummy devices hands on: What we can learn about Apple’s upcoming iPhones

Ahead of Apple’s expected iPhone upgrade this fall, we grabbed four “iPhone 13” dummy devices to see what we can learn about the rumored lineup.

Specifically, we have Apple’s “iPhone 13 mini”, “iPhone 13,” “iPhone 13 Pro” and “iPhone 13 Pro Max”, provided that Apple sticks to its numbering scheme and steps, as it has done in recent years – not including iPhone X.

We compared them directly with our iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max. Since this is an “S” year, we typically do not see as many external hardware changes. Apple tends to focus on performance, cameras and other unique features with major redesigns that land every two years.

A grain of salt

To be clear, these are dummy devices and not official “iPhone 13” models. They were retrieved through the same channels as previous years, which turned out to be very accurate.

Just because last year’s were accurate, however, does not guarantee that these will be. These are based on recent forms that case makers are already relying on to produce cases en masse for Apple’s unannounced phones. These forms are not a sure thing, and there can definitely be changes in what Apple eventually releases.

Comparison of iPhone 12 lineup to iPhone 13 lineup

Comparison of iPhone 12 lineup to iPhone 13 lineup

Giving confidence to these devices is a wealth of rumors. We have seen many rumors about the size of the new devices, the change of notch and the size increase of the camera module.

Hands on with iPhone 13 dummy devices

Our first impression of the lineup is that Apple is actually sticking to the same screen sizes this time: a 5.4-inch “iPhone 13 mini,” 6.1-inch “iPhone 13” and “iPhone 13 Pro” and 6.7 -inch “iPhone 13 Pro Max.”

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has said that Apple will release the 5.4-inch model starting in 2022, so the “iPhone 13 mini” may be your last chance for a small iPhone.

iPhone 12 Pro Max notch (left) and new iPhone 13 Pro Max notch (right)

iPhone 12 Pro Max notch (left) and new iPhone 13 Pro Max notch (right)

Across all models, we can see that at least there is a change in the TrueDepth camera system on the fronts of the phone. Apple has moved the earpiece all the way to the top edge, leaving the camera just outside the center.

This does not necessarily lead to a change in the size of the notch, as recent rumors have suggested, but it will be a change in some way. Since these dummy devices do not have actual screens, but pieces of black glass on the front, we can not see exactly the size of the notch.

‘iPhone 13 mini’ versus iPhone 12 mini

iPhone 12 mini (left) and iPhone 13 mini (right)

iPhone 12 mini (left) and iPhone 13 mini (right)

If you look at the “iPhone 13 mini” side by side with the iPhone 12 mini, they look almost identical. The only visible external difference is the camera module. Apple has switched the wide and ultra-wide lenses to be cat corner rather than stacked on top of each other.

Otherwise, these have the same physical size and button placement.

‘iPhone 13’ versus iPhone 12

iPhone 12 (left) and iPhone 13 (right)

On “iPhone 13” we see that Apple has started to make some changes. The cameras are cat corner as with “iPhone 13 mini”, but otherwise do not look so different in size.

iPhone 12 (right) and iPhone 13 (left)

iPhone 12 (right) and iPhone 13 (left) buttons

Apple has moved the side button down a bit, probably in an attempt to make it more ergonomic for small-handed users. Similarly, silent switching as well as volume buttons are also switched lower. However, the SIM card tray has moved up significantly.

‘iPhone 13 Pro’ versus iPhone 12 Pro

Things are starting to get interesting with “iPhone 13 Pro.” The chassis is physically the same as the “iPhone 13” in terms of placement of buttons, but what we like most here are the cameras.

We see that the camera bump is significantly larger on the “iPhone 13 Pro” than on the iPhone 12 Pro. This repeats what we saw with a recent case leak that also highlighted this change. Both the wide and ultra-wide lenses look bigger.

iPhone 12 Pro (left) and iPhone 13 Pro (right)

iPhone 12 Pro (left) and iPhone 13 Pro (right)

This larger bump may be due to an enhanced ultra-wide camera with enhanced autofocus. Since the wide lens is also larger, it may suggest that improvements are also coming to that camera.

In particular, the “iPhone 13 Pro” has kept the telephoto lens in the same size. So two of the cameras are bigger while one is smaller. This seems to indicate that Apple keeps the enhanced telephoto lens an “iPhone 13 Pro Max” exclusive, just as Apple did with the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

‘iPhone 13 Pro Max’ versus iPhone 12 Pro Max

The largest of the bunch, “iPhone 13 Pro Max” is a spitting image of the iPhone 12 Pro Max. Its buttons are all located in the same way without the SIM card tray, which is moved up in a hair.

iPhone 12 Pro Max (left) and iPhone 13 Pro max (right)

iPhone 12 Pro Max (left) and iPhone 13 Pro Max (right)

When looking at the camera, the bump as a whole is slightly larger than the previous one – which means cases for the iPhone 12 Pro Max do not fit the new model. However, all three cameras are larger, which means we could see some notable upgrades to all the cameras on the 2021 model.

Kuo said so much to note based on the supply chain that he sees Apple hiring a new wide-angle camera with an f / 1.5 aperture. It’s faster than the f / 1.6 aperture on the iPhone 12 version, resulting in improved night shots with less grain and increased bokeh.

iPhone 13 Pro Max (left) and iPhone 13 Pro (right)

iPhone 13 Pro Max (left) and iPhone 13 Pro (right)

Since the telephoto lens is also larger, we can expect that there will also be some changes there from the already upgraded 2.5X model on the 2020 Max size iPhone.

Both the “iPhone 13 Pro” and “iPhone 13 Pro Max” also appear to be slightly thicker than the iPhone 12 versions; maybe 0.5 mm to 1 mm.

We’ll know soon enough

These models give us a good look at what Apple has up its sleeve for the “iPhone 13” lineup, and luckily we don’t have long to wait until we know for sure.

Recent rumors say that Apple is planning its shipments earlier than the iPhone 12, which probably points to a return to the release window in September.

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