That something is likely to be a new handset, which could also be released alongside a new Apple Watch, new AirPods and more.
We will finally find out the exact answer to what it is on 14 September, when Apple will hold a virtual event to reveal the new phone. While it has not said specifically that the event is for the iPhone – and the release was delayed into October, last year – it almost certainly will be the launch of the new handset.
Everything else is a little more unclear. But plenty of rumours have helped to give an indication of what might be coming at the event.
The first question is what exactly it will be called. While we’ve been referring to it as the iPhone 13 – and will continue to do so – there’s no guarantee that’s what it will be called.
One problem is that the number 13 is unlucky for many, though it is of course lucky for some others. That could lead Apple to avoid it, if only to keep superstitious people as customers.
It is also a large number, and for the most part, Apple has tended to drop the numbers once its products get to a high enough number, and simply refer to products by their year or another name. That has led some to suggest that it could simply drop the numbering system entirely this year, and refer to it simply as the “new iPhone” – but that has been suggested for every other iPhone in recent years, too.
The design changes may also be minimal, and Apple could just call the phone the iPhone 12S, as it has in the past.
There will probably be four versions of the phone, in the three different sizes that are available for the iPhone 12: a small Mini, a medium-sized normal iPhone and Pro one, and a Pro Max. Those names seem to have worked for the existing line-up and there is no reason to think they will go this time around.
But there is no way to know for sure. As with all marketing decisions – which also include the price, for instance – they can be changed relatively late on, and are less likely to leak outside of Apple.
The design is likely to stay much the same as the current iPhone 13. Its flat sides, metal design and rounded camera bump is not likely to change much, if at all.
Some rumours do suggest that the phone could get a little bigger, or heavier. Apple hasn’t shied away from doing that in recent years – it was once seemingly on a quest for thinness over everything – so it would not be hugely surprising if it has sacrificed some bulk for an improved battery, for instance.
But the biggest design change will be the shrinking of the notch, according to various rumours. It will still be there – it is needed to hide the camera and Face ID sensors – but Apple is reported to have foudn a way to have it take up less space as it protrudes into the display.
And that display is set to get improvements, too. Apple could finally bring the fast refresh technology that has been seen in its iPads – which allows scrolling and other behaviour to appear
Previous rumours suggested that it has been working on such technology for previous iPhones, but had been hampered by its cost to battery life. Those may finally have been overcome.
Various rumours have suggested that perhaps the biggest area of focus will be the cameras. That would be in line with previous years, which have radically improved the pictures the iPhone can take, and which Apple has often made much of in its introduction and advertising.
Reports suggest that could include a focus on video, especially that for pros. It could also bring with it better performance at night and in low-light – something that might have been referenced in the event invitation.
As with every year, the processor is likely to get faster and more efficient. Apple brings a new chip to each iPhone, and will probably do the same this year, adding an extra number to the chip name – the iPhone 12 is powered by the A14 Bionic, which also helped inspire the new M1 chip for its computers and now iPads – and some better performance.
One more thing?
Apple is famous for its surprises, and it does seem to have plugged up many of the leaks that once revealed its products in advance. So there could still be some surprise waiting to happen – perhaps something related to virtual reality?