What iPhone 13 details can we learn from iOS 15?

WWDC 2021 screenshot
(Image credit: Apple)

Nothing about the iPhone 13 has been confirmed just yet, but Apple has unveiled iOS 15, and as this software will have been developed in tandem with the iPhone 13, some aspects of it might hint at what we could see from the phone.

So to dig out those hints, we’ve taken a close look at the iOS 15 features that have been announced so far and highlighted what they could mean for the iPhone 13.

It’s worth noting that none of the improvements listed below are guaranteed to be found on the iPhone 13 range, and there are sure to be plenty of upgrades that iOS 15 doesn’t hint at, but among the improvements offered on Apple’s next phones you might find the following.

A FaceTime focus points to an improved camera

FaceTime Portrait mode

Portrait mode in FaceTime (Image credit: Apple)

Apple has promised lots of improvements to FaceTime with iOS 15, including the addition of Portrait mode (so you can blur out the background of your video), and the ability for Android and Windows users to join FaceTime calls.

There are other FaceTime improvements too, which we’ll get to below, but with this focus on video calls, and with the fact that people will probably be using FaceTime even more now that their Apple-free friends can join in, it would make sense for Apple to improve the front-facing camera on the iPhone 13.

It’s about time too, as the company has stuck with the same 12MP f/2.2 lens for both the iPhone 11 range and the iPhone 12 range. So we wouldn’t be surprised if we see a boost in megapixels, improvements in video quality, or other tweaks on the iPhone 13.

The speakers and mic could get an upgrade

FaceTime SharePlay

FaceTime SharePlay (Image credit: Apple)

Also on the FaceTime front, Apple is adding spatial audio (so voices will sound like they’re coming from where the person is positioned on the screen), and new microphone modes to separate voices from background noise.

These features work on current Apple hardware, but to get the most out of them we could see Apple improving the speakers and/or the microphone on the iPhone 13 range. Perhaps Apple will even add additional speakers or microphones.

Will the screens get bigger?

FaceTime SharePlay

FaceTime SharePlay (Image credit: Apple)

This is more of a long shot, but with Group FaceTime also being added to give you a grid of video windows all on the screen at once, plus SharePlay allowing users to share their screens on FaceTime, and even watch shows and movies in sync, more screen space could definitely come in handy.

Apple has been gradually growing its smartphone screen sizes too, so larger sizes for the iPhone 13 range aren’t out of the question. But Apple only recently boosted the top model to 6.7 inches with the iPhone 12 Pro Max, so it’s probably a bit soon for another screen size increase.

An improved neural engine

WWDC 2021 screenshot

Live Text (Image credit: Apple)

Several iOS 15 features are powered by ‘on-device intelligence’, which in at least some cases uses the iPhone’s neural engine.

There’s Live Text for example, which lets your phone recognize the text in photos, so you can view text through the camera or search for text in photos and take relevant actions when it’s found (such as translating foreign text, copying the text, or calling a number).

Apple specifically mentions its neural engine for these features, but on-device intelligence is also mentioned in reference to personalized song suggestions for Memories in the Photos apps, suggested settings for the new Focus mode (which blocks out distractions), and prioritized notifications.

That’s a lot of intelligence for one phone, so we wouldn’t be surprised if there are upgrades to the iPhone 13’s neural engine to help power it all.

Indeed, some amount of improvement to it is likely, as Apple tends to beef the neural engine up with new chipsets (which we’re sure to get in the iPhone 13), but don’t be surprised if this aspect of the chipset is a real focus.

James Rogerson

James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to 3G.co.uk, 4G.co.uk and 5G.co.uk and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.