Apple Event new iPhone 13

Tim Cook 

Apple/Screenshot by James Martin/CNET

Apple gave iPhone owners plenty to be excited about with the iPhone 13. From its new cinematic video mode to its longer battery life and additional storage space, the iPhone 13 is a welcome improvement over its predecessor. But there are still a few useful features Apple’s phones are missing compared to Android competitors such as Samsung’s Galaxy S21

For example, many Android phones have a borderless screen with a notch-free design and a fingerprint sensor built into the display. These features aren’t new, either, and have been available on some Android phones for years. 

That being said, the iPhone has come a long way over the past two years. Before the iPhone 13 debuted, the iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 gained capabilities that were previously only available on Android devices, such as 5G support, OLED display technology on entry-level phones and Night mode for the camera. 

Read CNET’s reviews of the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro

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What the iPhone 13 is still missing


Your phone preference will likely come down to whether you prefer iOS or Android, rather than specific features. Regardless, there are still a few ways I’d like to see the iPhone catch up to Android. 

A notch-free design


The OnePlus 9 has a bezel-free screen with no notch.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The iPhone 13’s notch isn’t quite as wide as the iPhone 12’s, but it’s definitely present. Many Android device makers, on the other hand, have managed to design screens with camera cutouts that are barely visible, making the phone’s front feel more like a seamless sheet of glass. 

Samsung’s Galaxy S21 smartphones, for example, have a tiny hole for the camera located near the top of the display and it’s been implementing similar designs on its flagship devices since the Galaxy S10 launched in 2019. The same can be said for Google’s Pixel 5a and the OnePlus 9.

However, there might be a good reason why the iPhone’s notch is larger than the cutout on Samsung’s phone and other Android devices. The iPhone’s notch includes more than just the selfie camera; it’s also where the sensors that power Apple’s Face ID facial recognition feature are located. Face ID has generally been considered to be ahead of the competition and more secure.

A screen that can show the time and calendar events even when it’s asleep


 If you’re willing to pay the price of battery life, Xiaomi has an always-on-display feature available. 

Sareena Dayaram/CNET

When your iPhone’s display is turned off, your phone turns into an idle black rectangle. But many modern Android phones can show information like the time and calendar events even when the screen is asleep. Device makers including Samsung, Google and Xiaomi have all released phones with always-on displays. 

I’ve found this useful when I just want to quickly check the time or view my next meeting without getting distracted by picking up my phone.

The ability to charge other devices when you’re not near an outlet


This feature lets you charge your Galaxy Buds and Galaxy Watch with your Note 10.

Sarah Tew

Many people are in the habit of charging their phones overnight. But if you own a smartwatch or wireless earbuds, there’s a good chance you’ve forgotten to plug them in at least once. 

Android phones like Samsung’s Galaxy S21, Google’s Pixel 5 and older Galaxy phones like the S20 and S10, have a feature that can be helpful in situations like this. Samsung calls it Wireless Power Share and Google calls it Battery Share, but they essentially do the same thing. The backs of these devices can serve as wireless charging pads for products that are compatible with the Qi wireless charging standard, which is found on most modern phones and accessories.

Apple didn’t mention this feature during the iPhone 13 launch event, so we can only assume that the company’s latest smartphones don’t support it. But there have been some previous hints that Apple is at least considering bringing such technology to the iPhone. In October 2020, FCC filings surfaced suggesting that the iPhone 12 was capable of reverse wireless charging, likely for powering up your AirPods on the go. 

 An in-screen fingerprint sensor for unlocking your phone


Face ID works well most of the time, but not while you’re wearing a mask. If you’re an iPhone owner without an Apple Watch, you probably miss the old days when you could just rest your thumb on the home button to unlock your iPhone.

Sadly, that’s not changing with the iPhone 13. Android phone makers like Samsung and OnePlus, on the other hand, are taking a different approach. Samsung has been building fingerprint scanners into the displays on its Galaxy S phones since the Galaxy S10 launched in 2019. You’ll also find a fingerprint reader integrated into the screens of the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro. 

A charger that also works with Macs and non-Apple devices


The iPhone 13 still uses a Lightning cable for charging.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could use the same charger to power your iPhone and Mac? Don’t get your hopes up. 

The iPhone 13, like every iPhone model since the iPhone 5, includes Apple’s proprietary Lightning port for charging. You can also charge the iPhone 13 through Apple’s MagSafe charger or a standard Qi wireless charger, but if you want to plug it in you’ll have to use Lightning.

It’s a shame there’s no USB-C support on the iPhone, despite it being the charging standard on Apple’s iPad Air, iPad Pro, MacBook laptops and the brand new iPad Mini. Using one type of charger to power all of your devices is exactly the type of simplicity I’d like to see from Apple.

USB-C is the established charging standard on Android devices, whether you’re buying a phone from Samsung, OnePlus, Google, or Motorola. Needless to say, these included USB-C cables are much more ubiquitous and useful than the iPhone’s since you can also use them with other devices and accessories. 

It’s unclear if we’ll ever see USB-C coming to the iPhone. Apple is said to be working on a port-free iPhone and its MagSafe charging system certainly seems like a step in that direction.

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