It’s new iPhone season once again, y’all. Get ready.
On Sept. 14 at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET, Apple will broadcast a live virtual event showing off its latest flagship phones as well as at least one or two other big products, such as a possible AirPods update. As always, we kinda know what to expect, but we can never be certain until the dust clears and we’ve got all the news straight from the horse’s mouth.
While we sit and wait, let’s go over what Apple is most likely to talk about on Tuesday.
iPhone 13. Duh.
This is the easiest, most obvious slam dunk of them all. Apple will reveal new iPhones on Tuesday, and they’ll probably be called the iPhone 13. It seems likely that Apple will release four new ones again this year, with the regular iPhone 13 joined by Mini, Pro, and Pro Max models.
As for the specifics, it doesn’t seem like this year’s new batch of iPhones will be particularly game-changing. We don’t expect Apple to introduce major design changes to the phones, other than possibly reducing the size of the notch that houses the front-facing camera, according to some reports. Those same rumors suggest that at least one of the new iPhones (knowing Apple, probably the most expensive one) will finally sport a 120Hz refresh rate. Apple has fallen far behind the competition by sticking with 60Hz displays for the past couple of years, so that would be a welcome change.
Beyond that, those reports also say Apple will introduce an “always-on” display that shows things like the time and battery level on the iPhone’s screen, even when it’s not actively in use. One thing we’re less certain of is a reported satellite communications feature that could allow users to send texts or calls in emergency situations when there isn’t a cell tower nearby. The word on the street is that it’s almost certainly coming, but it might not make it into this year’s phones.
Again, this might very well be a transitional year for iPhones as Apple prepares for bigger, more sweeping changes next year.
Apple Watch Series 7
The other thing we’re pretty certain Apple will talk about on Tuesday is the next iteration of the Apple Watch, most likely called the Series 7. The rumor mill hasn’t been grinding nearly as hard for this as it normally does for iPhones, but based on what we’ve heard, this could also be kind of a meager year for Apple Watch upgrades.
To be precise, reports have indicated that the new Apple Watch will sport a slightly different look, with smaller bezels and a thinner display, though the body of the watch itself could be thicker. That extra size may very well make room for a larger battery, which would alleviate a big problem people have had with the current line of Apple Watches.
There could and likely will be a new chip inside the Apple Watch Series 7. On top of that, don’t be surprised to see ultra-wideband technology like that found in Apple’s AirTags. Unfortunately, the same reports that said Apple will introduced a larger battery and smaller bezels also said the lineup of health sensors won’t change this year. Don’t expect any new sensors until 2022.
It’s not 100 percent certain that Apple will show new AirPods, but given that we’ve been hearing about a refresh to the entry-level AirPods for more than a year, it stands to reason that Apple would finally lift the curtain at its event on Tuesday.
The expectation based on reports is that the new AirPods will look more like the premium-priced AirPods Pro, possibly with shorter stems and silicone ear tips. Whether or not Apple will add active noise cancellation to the entry-level AirPods or keep that exclusive to AirPods Pro is more murky. It would be a very Apple move to not include ANC in the cheaper AirPods, but it’d also put the product directly at odds with similarly priced (or cheaper) competitors like the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 or Nothing Ear (1) earbuds, which feature quality ANC.
iPads and Macs
In the past, Apple has at times held two fall events, one in September and one in October or November. We don’t know for sure if that’s the case this year, but we expect at least some new iPads and Mac computers by the end of 2021, and Apple typically doesn’t talk too much about those things at its iPhone events.
That’s why we’re not going to commit to hearing about these on Tuesday, but just in case, here’s what we know: A new iPad Mini with an updated design is set to launch at some point this fall. There could also be an updated version of the regular iPad. And we might see MacBook Pro and MacBook Air refreshes with new versions of Apple’s in-house M1 chips.
Still, you shouldn’t bet money on them showing up on Tuesday. Actually, don’t bet money on any part of an Apple press conference. That’s just a bad idea all around.
Whether it’s because of supply chain issues due to the COVID-19 pandemic or just the general rhythm of Apple’s upgrade cycle, all signs point to this being a fairly ho-hum year for new iPhones and Apple Watches. But you never know when Tim Cook and Co. will surprise you, so you better tune in with the rest of us on Tuesday to find out for sure.