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Apple’s September 15 “Time Flies” Event: What to Expect

Interior of Google HQ.
Enlarge / One of two identical stairwells at the Steve Jobs Theater on Apple’s Cupertino campus, where the company now hosts many of its products reveals.

Samuel Axon

Every September, Apple presents its new line of iPhone and Apple Watch devices at a live event featuring the press, influencers and industry figures ̵

1; or does it? This year we are not entirely sure.

Last week, the Northern California technology giant put out invitations to a video stream from the Steve Jobs Theater (the site on the company’s new campus where it normally hosts people in person) to announce some new products. The tagline was “Time Flies” – and we’ll get to some interpretations of that in a moment – but time certainly won’t fly for most viewers as we enter the ninth month of the COVID-19 pandemic.

And because the pandemic is affecting Apple’s business, there have been a few widespread reports that the company may not be able to ship its new iPhones in the September window it is usually targeted at, although there are other conflicting rumors indicating that yes, iPhones are actually coming this month.

On top of that, there are many other products that Apple can announce either this month or at an event in October or November. The only company previously confirmed is a kind of Apple Silicon Mac – the first commercially released Mac that removed Intel’s CPUs in favor of Apple’s own design. Beyond that, there are many possibilities.

Let’s consider a few of them.

iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro

As mentioned above, Apple usually announces new iPhones at an event in September around this time – but there has been some speculation that it will not. We do not know one way or the other, but we probably do do know quite a bit about what these iPhones will look like when they are announced.

This is thanks to a series of reports and leaks in recent months – not just supply line leaks or analyst speculation, which is often misleading – but from usually reliable journalistic publications with sources they say are directly familiar with Apple’s plans, among others. These reports are not a sure thing, but they have generally come from sources who have called Apple product details in the past, such as Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman and Debby Wu.

According to these sources and reports, Apple will announce four iPhones: two successors to the iPhone 11 in two different sizes, and one successor each to the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max. All signs point to a major redesign across the board – the first since the iPhone X was introduced in 2017 – which will include flat metallic edges similar to the latest iPad Pro models, or iPhone 4 and 5.

These phones come in three different sizes. The largest of the iPhone 11 successors and the smallest of the iPhone 11 Pro successors would have 6.1-inch screens, while the smallest iPhone 11 successor would have a 5.4-inch screen – the smallest iPhone since the iPhone 5S and the original iPhone SE. Finally, an iPhone 11 Pro Max successor will have a very large 6.7-inch screen.

The reports claim that the two cheaper models will have aluminum edges, while the two more expensive ones will have stainless steel.

Below: iPhone 11 Pro Max from last year. The new iPhones will probably look quite different.

All four phones will have 5G modems – perhaps a long-term investment, since 5G networks are not very robust yet. They will also include the A14 chipset, Apple’s latest system-on-a-chip that will probably be faster than the already zippy A13 found in the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro family.

Finally, some (but maybe not all) iPhones would see a flight time sensor added to their rear camera layouts – similar to what we saw in the last iPad Pro, to facilitate augmented reality apps and new camera features. .

We do not know what to expect in terms of prices for the new iPhones, and as was written above: it is possible these come later in the year. Usually, reliable sources are in conflict with whether they are scheduled for this month or not.

This sensor can be the driving force behind Apple’s “Time Flies” tagline for the event. Or alternatively, the same type of sensor can make its way to the iPad Air, which we will discuss for a moment. (Or tagline may just be a game on Apple Watch.)

Apple Watch Series 6

We know a little less about the next Apple Watch – or maybe there’s just less to know, and it will not be as big a year for the Watch as it probably will be for the iPhone. It is expected that Apple will continue to offer two different sizes, and the new watch will have faster internals (especially for wireless speeds), as well as oxygen level tracking in blood, a new health tracking feature.

Below: Apple Watch Series 5, last year’s Watch. We do not expect anything too radically different when it comes to design this year, but you never know.

In addition, Apple may introduce a new, cheaper model of Apple Watch meant to compete with affordable training devices like some of them from Fitbit. However, we do not know what can be entered into to deliver this.

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