iPhone 13 always-on display could finally happen this year

Every year brings rumors and hopes of new iPhone features that never come. Last year, it was the iPad Pro ProMotion display tech that would have brought a 120Hz refresh rate to iPhones. That never happened with the iPhone 12, but that hasn't dashed hopes it will still come. The iPhone 13 could finally get that kind of screen, but the technology that will enable it could also bring a wanted but an also contentious feature, an always-on display system similar to the Apple Watch.

Always-on Display or AOD is a feature that's now common on Android phones, particularly those with OLED screens. The feature allows most of the display to be off or at very low power while showing some notifications or widgets like a clock. Of course, it has an unavoidable impact on battery life, but some users are willing to pay that cost for convenience.

Based on Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, the elements that could enable AOD on an iPhone are coming together in the iPhone 13 later this year. There's a significantly larger battery capacity that could help offset the drain that an always-on display feature will cause. And then there's an OLED LTPO panel headed for "Pro" iPhone 13 models that will hit two birds with one stone.

It will enable a 120Hz refresh rate, which Apple could dial down as to the slowest rate as needed. LTPO also allows the panel to be always on at a low level of brightness with less impact on battery life. These hardware upgrades could give the iPhone 13, particularly the iPhone 13 Pro, that AOD functionality to match what the Apple Watch has had for a long time.

It isn't clear how much iPhone users have wished for this AOD feature. iPhones haven't exactly had stellar battery lives, and adding continuous battery drain, no matter how small, could still impact the user experience negatively. Then again, Apple is a master of optimization, and it wouldn't release an AOD feature unless it's confident about its efficiency.