Here’s What to Expect From Apple on September 9
Apple’s rumored September 9 media event was confirmed on Thursday, when the Cupertino, California-based company sent out an e-vite to various media outlets that simply offered the date and a cryptic, “Wish we could say more” statement. According to Apple Insider, the event will kick off at 1 p.m. Eastern at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts in Cupertino. Besides raising Apple fans’ collective heart rate, the media event confirmation also apparently boosted the iPhone maker’s share price to a record $102.78 intraday trading high.
So what can Apple fans expect at the company’s highly anticipated media event? Apple, a firm that has mastered the art of building consumer excitement by withholding information, offered no clue about what products might be unveiled on September 9. However, based on the company’s well-established product refresh cycle — not to mention the countless rumors and supply chain leaks — it can be safely assumed that Apple will introduce its latest iPhone model at the upcoming event.
However, unlike in previous years, Apple is rumored to be unveiling two completely new iPhone models at the same time this year. It should be pointed out that although Apple simultaneously released the iPhone 5C and the iPhone 5S last year, the iPhone 5C was not widely considered a new product, since it was essentially an iPhone 5 with a new chassis. Throw the long-rumored “iWatch” into the mix this year and you may have the ingredients for what could be Apple’s most anticipated product launch event in its history. Although September 9 is just around the corner, rumors about the products that Apple will unveil at the event are still coming in. Keeping that in mind, here’s the latest information about what to expect at Apple’s September 9 media event.
Two “iPhone 6″ models
Unless you have been hiding under a proverbial rock over the past year, you have probably heard that Apple will be releasing the so-called “iPhone 6″ in two larger screen sizes of 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches. The 4.7-inch size is likely to be welcomed by most iPhone users as a long overdue screen size boost in a smartphone market that has steadily been trending toward larger devices. On the other hand, the 5.5-inch iPhone will be Apple’s first entry into the phablet market, a smartphone market segment that was pioneered by Samsung with its line of Galaxy Note phone-tablet hybrid devices.
While the next-generation iPhone models have been widely referred to as the iPhone 6 devices, there is no guarantee that Apple will use the iPhone 6 moniker. After a Thai government official confirmed approval of two new iPhone 6 models earlier this month, Apple representatives told officials that the devices may not necessarily be sold under that name, reported MacRumors. Some sources have even suggested that the 5.5-inch device will be called the iPhone Air, while others have said that it will be called the iPhone 6L.
So what will the set apart the next-generation iPhone models from their predecessors? Besides the larger screen sizes, both models are also expected to come equipped with the usual incremental hardware improvements, such as a faster A8 processor and a higher-resolution display. Of course, both of the new iPhone models will also feature iOS 8, Apple’s latest mobile operating system, which was unveiled at the Worldwide Developers Conference earlier this year. In addition, this year’s devices are rumored to include a new protective display covering made of sapphire, a material that is harder and more scratch-resistant than the Gorilla Glass currently used on Apple’s mobile devices.
Matt Margolis, a PTT Research analyst whose name has become synonymous with Apple’s sapphire plans, issued a research note on Thursday that detailed the extent of Apple’s sapphire screen implementation. “According to sources close to Foxconn’s manufacturing operations the iPhone 6 will come built with sapphire cover screens in both sizes,” wrote Margolis in a note provided to The Cheat Sheet. “These sources have also indicated that the 4.7” Phone 6 is being assembled in two varieties, a sapphire cover screen version and a version featuring Gorilla Glass. At this point I do not know the approximate mix between the two cover screen options on the 4.7” iPhone 6. My latest check on the 5.5” iPhone 6 indicates that all units of the device are expected to come protected by a sapphire cover screen at this point.”
Although it is unknown when the two iPhone 6 models will be made available for sale to the public, Apple usually makes its new devices available less than two weeks after they are unveiled. Last year, Apple announced the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C on September 10, before the devices went on sale on September 20. However, rumored production issues may delay the availability for the larger iPhone. According to the latest information from Margolis, the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 will go on sale on September 19, while the 5.5-inch model won’t hit store shelves until mid-October.
Wrist-worn wearable product aka the “iWatch”
Despite an unusual dearth of component leaks and a previous rumor suggesting that the device’s launch would be delayed until 2015, the so-called iWatch is also expected to make an appearance at Apple’s September 9 media event, according to Re/code’s usually reliable sources. Margolis also affirmed that the iWatch would be unveiled on September 9 and predicted that it would feature a sapphire screen.
So what will the iWatch do, besides (hopefully) providing its users with the time? According to unnamed sources cited by several media outlets, the iWatch will include multiple health-monitoring and fitness-tracking sensors that will collect data on everything from blood pressure to sleep activity. Not surprisingly, the device is expected to work closely with Apple’s recently unveiled HealthKit health data storage platform, as well as the connected home framework HomeKit. It is probably also safe to assume that the iWatch will offer notification features similar to what smartwatches from Samsung and other companies offer.
No 12.9-inch “iPad Pro”
As recently reported by Bloomberg, Apple is rumored to be developing a 12.9-inch iPad that has previously been referred to by the “Pro” moniker. However, don’t look for any iPads at the upcoming media event. Apple usually debuts its iPad products at a separate media event, and really, isn’t three new devices at one event enough? According to Bloomberg’s sources, the oversized iPad will start production in the first quarter of next year. It goes without saying that the followups to last year’s 9.7-inch iPad Air and 7.9-inch iPad mini with Retina display will also not be unveiled at the September 9 event. Most industry watchers believe that the refreshed iPads will arrive sometime in October.
That’s all the latest news about Apple’s upcoming products. While there is always a lot of excitement surrounding Apple’s product launches, Senior Vice President Eddy Cue set a higher-than-usual bar for expectations this year when he told Re/code, “We’ve got the best product pipeline that I’ve seen in my 25 years at Apple.” Apple’s fans and detractors should find out if the latest products live up to the hype on September 9.
Follow Nathanael on Twitter @ArnoldEtan_WSCS