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This is the one new iPhone 13 feature people can’t stop talking about

Published May 17th, 2021 9:00AM EDT
iPhone 13 Features Release
Image: Apple

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When Apple introduced Face ID on the iPhone X, it was something of a bold, and arguably risky, design move. Not only did Apple implement a brand new authentication technology at scale, but it also did away with Touch ID which, at that point, was incredibly reliable, easy to use, and familiar. Despite some initial trepidation from folks who had grown accustomed to Touch ID, the transition from Touch ID to Face ID was thankfully pretty seamless.

For as great as Face ID is, there are still some use-case scenarios where Touch ID provides a superior user experience. As a prime example, Touch ID enabled users to initiate and complete the authentication process while the device was still in one’s pocket. Face ID has gotten much quicker in recent years, but it’s still a tad behind Touch ID when it comes to unlocking speed.

Additionally, the coronavirus pandemic necessitated the use of face masks for hundreds of millions of people across the globe, a dynamic that makes unlocking via Face ID impossible.

Taken together, there’s been something of a clamoring for Apple to bring back Touch ID. Indeed, we’ve even seen some speculative reports — some emanating from credible sources — which claim that Apple is in fact working on bringing Touch ID back via a fingerprint sensor located underneath the display or, perhaps, on the power button itself.

In light of this, a recent survey from SellCell reveals that the return of Touch ID is actually the feature iPhone users want the most.

Breaking things down, here are the most wanted iPhone 13 features per the survey:

  • Return of Touch ID – 21%
  • Higher refresh rate display (120Hz) – 17%
  • Smaller notch / Notch-less design – 15%
  • Return of in-box charger – 12%
  • Bigger battery – 11%
  • Better camera features – 8.2%
  • Faster processor – 6.8%
  • Compact phone – 5%
  • Better waterproofing – 2.2%
  • Foldable design – 1%
  • Removal of lightning port – 0.8%

To be honest, I’m a bit surprised that Touch ID scored so high, but it’s certainly possible that a full year of unlocking frustration due to constant mask-wearing boosted the figure higher than it would be ordinarily.

That notwithstanding, there doesn’t seem to be any chance we’ll see Touch ID return on the iPhone 13. According to reputable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple’s under-display fingerprint recognition technology likely won’t arrive until the iPhone 15 in 2023 at the earliest, if at all.

As to the other features mentioned in the aforementioned survey, a few of them will actually debut on the iPhone 13. The iPhone 13 Pro models, for example, will reportedly boast a 120Hz ProMotion display for improved responsiveness and more fluid scrolling. It’s also believed that Apple’s implementation will include dynamic variable refresh switching such that the display will be able to alternate between 60Hz and 120Hz based on the use-case environment.

Further, product leaks have suggested that the iPhone 13 lineup will feature a smaller notch that will measure 26.8mm. As a point of reference, the width of the notch on the iPhone 12 checks in at 34.83mm.

An iPhone 13 mockup that leaked back in April can be viewed below:

iPhone 13 Notch Leak
Photo shows purported iPhone 13 screen protector (bottom) next to iPhone 12 (top). Image source: Twitter

All told, the notch will not be nearly as wide but will be slightly taller. Other likely iPhone 13 features include Portrait mode support for video recording, an Always-On display feature, and improved camera performance.

As far as the iPhone 13 release date is concerned, credible sources have relayed that the entirety of Apple’s iPhone 13 lineup — which will consist of four devices — will be released in September. And while nothing is official just yet, Apple will presumably hold a special media event in early September to unveil its next-gen iPhone lineup.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.