Why I'm now more excited by the 2021 iPhone than this year's iPhone 12

The iPhone 11 Pro (Image credit: Future)

The iPhone 12 is still four months away (or perhaps even longer, if a delay does happen) but we already know a lot of what to expect, and the arrival of a major iPhone 13 rumor has refocused my attention.

The leak has tempered my anticipation for the iPhone 12. I write about the next iPhone a lot, and I've been excited about what we may expect from one of the biggest phones of the year... but the 2021 iPhone could be making a major move not many predicted.

What is this leak? The iPhone 13 (or whatever the 2021 iPhone is called) may be entirely portless. That's not a device with USB-C like many had been expecting - this is a leak saying that your iPhone in 2021 won't have any ports at all.

That's no headphone jack (obviously), no charging port and no SIM card slot. A big change, right?

This leak comes from Jon Prosser who has shared accurate information about the new iPhone SE and MacBook Pro 13 before either of those products were announced. Prosser has also shared a variety of other leaks on the iPhone 12, but we're obviously yet to learn if that information rings true.

Prosser tweeted, "One portless iPhone coming next year". This isn't the first time we've heard this rumor either - famed analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has also said similar in the past.  He also clarified that the iPhone will skip USB-C altogether, and opt for portless instead of ever using the now widely embraced charging tech.

A truly portless phone is a possibility right now; it's just that no manufacturer has taken the bold move of ditching all the ports on a phone. We've seen two devices that show how the tech could work, but neither were readily available.

The world's first entirely portless smartphone was the Meizu Zero, which was introduced in 2019 but that device was eventually canceled and never made its way to market. Then there was the concept phone designed by Oppo called the Apex that followed later that year, but that also wasn't readily on sale.

Since then, it has been silence from phone makers. We haven't seen any manufacturer announce a device that doesn't have a port, and it's very unlike Apple to be the first to make a major move like this.

In fact, we've also yet to see any leaks or rumors of totally portless Android devices. 

All of this said, if the iPhone 13 is the first major phone to do it I’ll be very surprised. Considering that device is likely to be unveiled in September 2021, there's plenty of time for Android manufacturers to beat Apple to the punch. Apple may still be one of the first though, and that may be one of the next big trends after 5G and folding phones.

Diving in at the deep end

You may ask, why would Apple even want to have a portless phone? It may sound like a gimmick at first, but there may be some sense to a device that doesn't have any ports at all.

With the move to Bluetooth headsets for listening to audio, the proliferation of wireless charging and the introduction of eSIM technology; this isn't out of the realms of possibility of being a useful device.

Ridding the device of ports will arguably allow for a more durable phone as it eliminates areas where fluff can get caught or re cables can break off from. It may even allow the company to improve its IP rating making its devices even more water and dust resistant.

Arguably the most exciting element is that the extra space inside the phone may be used to increase the battery size or include further storage. It could even just be that Apple decides to make the phone thinner as well. I know that I'd personally rather a larger and longer lasting battery than a slimmer phone though.

Not the first time

Many are unlikely to forget that Apple was among the first phone manufacturers to drop the 3.5mm headphone jack. Among all the jokes of it taking "courage" to do so, it would match that the company would also be willing to drop other ports from its devices.

Getting used to a totally portless iPhone may be difficult at first. Immediately I'm thinking of how I won't be able to take photos from my phone via a cable - yeah, that's something I still do - but it's likely to be something we get used to quickly much like with the 3.5mm jack in 2017.

The rest of 2020 is likely to be dedicated to the iPhone 12 (plus a variety of other products like the Apple Watch 6 and maybe even Apple Glasses) but the 2021 device has already caught my attention and I may struggle to refocus on the new iPhone again.

James Peckham

James is the Editor-in-Chief at Android Police. Previously, he was Senior Phones Editor for TechRadar, and he has covered smartphones and the mobile space for the best part of a decade bringing you news on all the big announcements from top manufacturers making mobile phones and other portable gadgets. James is often testing out and reviewing the latest and greatest mobile phones, smartwatches, tablets, virtual reality headsets, fitness trackers and more. He once fell over.