2021 iOS Predictions: New iPad Pros, less drama

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Okay, for most of us 2020 wasn’t the best of times. But on the iOS front, Apple definitely seemed to be in a feast-or-famine mode.

The company released five new iPhone models (did you forget the second-generation iPhone SE?), and there was a major iPad Air revision that basically turned it into a low-end iPad Pro. The iPad Pro got an underwhelming update—but an amazing new accessory in the Magic Keyboard for iPad!

There was more to cheer than boo in the iPhone and iPad world in 2020, and that puts it pretty much ahead of most of the world. But can 2021 deliver something better? It’s time for some predictions.

Lucky number 13

The last two years have seen Apple increment the iPhone’s name by a single number, going to iPhone 11 and then iPhone 12. This would normally make me certain that an iPhone 13 was on the horizon, rather than an iPhone 12S. But we live in a world where some buildings don’t label their thirteenth floor as the thirteenth floor because of… boogins? Bad mojo? Superstition, that’s the world.

Will an iPhone 13 ever exist? I can’t see Apple jumping over it and going straight to 14, and Apple can’t tread water by adding letters to the end of the iPhone 12 forever. My money is on Apple calling it the iPhone 13, making a joke about superstitions at the product roll-out, and moving on as usual.

After a major exterior design refresh with the iPhone 12, I expect Apple to leave things be in 2021. The new iPhone will look more or less like the current models, albeit with some new colors, some textural variations, and maybe a smaller “notch” for the TrueDepth camera stack.

iphone lightning Michael DeAgonia/IDG

The Lightning port on the iPhone will live at least another year.

It seems like it’s probably going to be another year or two before Apple tries its hand at a folding iPhone, but I wouldn’t be shocked if we got a”portless” iPhone created by omitting the Lightning port. If it happens, Apple would probably revise the MagSafe connector introduced this year to also support data transfers and toss one in the box. But if I had to predict—and I do, that’s why I’m here—I’d guess that the much-rumored portless iPhone won’t happen in 2021. Why force yourself to include a MagSafe charger when you can sell them as lucrative add-ons?

If you wager on Apple rolling some camera improvements into the new iPhone you’ll never go broke. I’m sure the next iPhone cameras will be better, bigger, more capable of capturing stills and video, you name it. The sensor stabilization feature introduced this year in the iPhone 12 Pro Max might find its way down to the iPhone Pro. And I do predict that Apple will keep rolling super-high-end features into the Pro Max.