The iPhone launch event on Wednesday saw the introduction of four new iPhone models, as well as an Apple Watch designed to withstand punishment.
IT’S SEPTEMBER, which means one thing: iPhone season. Apple held an event today at its Cupertino, California, headquarters to unveil the annual updates to its mobile devices. There are four new iPhone 14 models, a more rugged Apple Watch for adventurers, and a new pair of AirPods Pro.
Everything Apple announced is listed below.
Apple’s iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro
Did you like the idea of a smaller iPhone? That’s too bad. Apple has dropped its smallest phone in favor of the new iPhone 14 Plus, which sits above the recently announced iPhone 14 but below the top-tier iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. The 14 Plus, like its Pro Max sibling, has a 6.7-inch screen. The iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro both have 6.1-inch displays.
Aside from that, the majority of the changes to this year’s iPhone lineup are centered on the Pro models. The infamous notch, for example, which housed the sensor components necessary for Face ID, has now slimmed down to a pill-shaped cutout in the same area, not unlike most modern Android phones. There is now always-on display support, so you won’t have to tap or pick up your phone to see notifications or the time.
In addition, the Pro models are the only ones that use the brand-new A16 Bionic processor. It’s the first time the standard non-Pro iPhones have used a previous year’s chipset, but this is most likely due to supply chain constraints and a desire to keep costs low. The A15 Bionic chip in the iPhone 14 is still extremely fast, but you won’t get the best performance.
The primary camera on the Pros will finally be upgraded from 12 megapixels to a 48-megapixel sensor (a common trait among most Android phones). More megapixels do not always imply better photos, but they do allow you to capture more detail and print your photos at larger sizes without losing sharpness. The iPhone Pro models can also record videos in 8K resolution. That’s certainly more Ks than you need, but it could be useful for cropping into your footage without losing image quality—especially since most of our homes don’t have screens large enough to show off the benefits of 8K resolution.
The iPhone 14 is $799 and will be available on September 16. The iPhone 14 Plus will be available on October 7 for $899. The price of the iPhone 14 Pro is $999, and the price of the iPhone 14 Pro Max is $1,099. They’re up for preorder on September 9 and go on sale on September 16.
Apple Watch Ultra
Apple’s yearly watch upgrades tend to be iterative. After all, why fix something that isn’t broken? So, Apple’s announcement of the extra rugged and tough Ultra Watch this year is the most exciting news about a wearable Apple product since the optical heart sensor first appeared in the Series 4 Watch.
To design the Ultra, Apple consulted with extreme athletes at the top of their fields, such as ultrarunning celebrity Scott Jurek. The watch is aimed at the high-end, over-$500 adventure market, which is currently dominated by high-end Garmins. With a case diameter of 49 mm, this is Apple’s largest watch to date, allowing it to boast a long-awaited improvement: slightly improved battery life! According to Apple, the Ultra can last 36 hours on a single charge and up to 60 hours in extended-power mode. (I feel obligated to mention that the Garmin Instinct 2 can run for up to three weeks on a single charge.)
The other changes, on the other hand, are very exciting. The Ultra is made of tough titanium and features a sapphire crystal display. With a press of a new action button in international orange, you can switch which sport you’re tracking. A precision dual-frequency GPS system tracks your location even in environments that frequently obstruct satellite signals, such as cities or dense forest. A larger display also makes it easier to see all of the new advanced fitness metrics that will be introduced in WatchOS 9, such as a new “night mode” that changes the display to a reddish hue in low-light conditions to preserve your natural night vision.
There are three bands available, each designed to keep the big honkin’ watch on your wrist in alpine, trail, or ocean environments. Apple has even bigger plans for the Ultra, such as a new Oceanic+ app that will allow divers to use the watch as a wrist-mounted dive computer—a clear jab at Garmin’s popular high-end dive watches.
What was the most surprising aspect of the announcement? The Apple Watch Ultra is priced at $799. You can preorder it now, and it will be delivered on September 23. While $799 is expensive, it is well within the expected Garmin price range for these specifications. Two and a half days of battery life is still insufficient for a basic weekend camping trip, but we’re getting there.
Apple Watch Series 8
The Ultra received the majority of the groundbreaking Apple Watch improvements, so it’s not surprising that if you already own a Series 7 watch, you may not need to upgrade to the new Series 8. A new body temperature sensor is this year’s standout health feature (although, again, I feel obliged to point out that a similar temperature sensor has existed on other watches for years). It’s aimed at tracking women’s ovulation and fertility, although in a post-Roe world you might want to reconsider whether you track that information.
Crash Detection, which is also available on the Ultra and iPhone, is included in the Series 8. A severe car crash can be detected by two new motion sensors: an improved gyroscope and a high G-force accelerometer, which can connect you to emergency services, provide location, and notify your predetermined emergency contacts. Although Apple announced a new Low Power mode that can give you up to 36 hours of battery life by temporarily disabling features like the always-on display and auto-workout detection, battery life hasn’t improved. International roaming will now be available on cellular models.
The new SE is still the affordable Apple Watch, with crash detection, a larger display, and the same chip as the Series 8. The Series 8 will cost $399 for GPS and $499 for cellular, with three months of Apple’s Fitness+ home workout service included. The SE is priced at $249. On September 16, the watches will be available. It’s finally time to make one for Series 3, which is no longer available.
Second-Generation AirPods Pro
Apple’s new AirPods Pro resemble the previous generation of AirPods Pro. While there isn’t much of a difference in appearance, there are a few changes in the guts.
The second-generation AirPods Pro feature a new custom-made chip called H2, which Apple claims improves the buds’ sound quality and noise-cancelling abilities. The battery life is slightly improved, with six hours of listening time and a total of 30 hours in the charging case. It’s better than the previous version, but it’s still inferior to other wireless earbuds. On the stems of the buds, there are new touch sensor controls that allow you to change the volume with a swipe of your finger. Apple claims that the new Pros have improved motion detection, allowing them to better track fitness activities.
The AirPods Pro case is also improved, with the ability to charge on an Apple Watch puck, sync with Apple’s Find My app, and emit a beeping sound to help you locate them if they become misplaced. The new AirPods will be available for preorder on September 9 for $249.
If you own an Apple Watch or an iPhone, you’ll receive a software update notification on Monday, September 12. iOS 16 and watchOS 9 will be available as free software updates on that date.
Apple made no announcements about the iPad or Macs today, confirming that we’ll see another Apple event in a month or so with updates to both product lines. The iPadOS 16 and macOS Ventura are expected to be released in October.