What to expect at Apple's iPhone 14 launch event
Get ready for some major upgrades to the iPhone and Apple Watch lineup at Apple's "Far Out" event.
DEVINDRA HARDAWAR: Get ready for some major upgrades to the iPhone and Apple Watch lineup at the company's "Far Out" launch event next week. Now, last year's iPhone 13 was kind of a marginal upgrade. There really weren't that many changes, except for the Pro line, which got the faster ProMotion screens and got better cameras.
That was a nice upgrade, but the actual iPhone 13-- not really much changed there. According to the latest rumors, the iPhone 14 lineup is going to be a huge step forward, especially on the Pro line. The Apple Watch is going to be getting a new model to work with, and there's a lot of talk about the subtext of the invite, which just says "Far Out."
What could that mean? Let's dive into it.
When it comes to the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro lineup, we're still going to see four models this year. But a lot of rumors have pointed to one major change-- there's not going to be an iPhone mini model anymore. Instead, Apple's going to be launching a new iPhone Max or Pro model that's going to have a 6.7-inch screen like the iPhone Pro Max but will likely just have the same basic hardware as the standard iPhone 14.
Now, I'm sure fans of tiny gadgets are going to be disappointed by that, but the larger consumer trend is towards bigger screens just about everywhere. That's something Samsung has really taken to heart, and that's why all of their phones have gotten so huge. That's honestly the big draw of folding phones as well, just being able to cram in giant screens.
Apple could also be taking a cue from Samsung and other Android phone makers by getting rid of its notch on the iPhone Pro models and using two punch-out designs instead. Now, here's where it gets interesting. The early rumors point to two separate punch-out modules-- a little circular one for the front-facing camera and a pill-shaped box for the Face ID sensor.
But the latest rumors point to something else entirely. It looks like that little box is going to be unified as a single pill-shaped sensor. It's still physically going to be two holes, but software is going to kind of black out that whole area. Now, why would Apple do that?
One other rumor we're seeing lately is that Apple is going to be using the notifications-- those little dots that appear when, you know, an app is using your microphone-- and it's going to be taking those dots and putting them in between those two sensors. So it's going to kind of show up in the center of your phone-- rather in the top right than above the reception bar, which, honestly, just always felt cluttered to me.
Now, this new pillbox design isn't going to be a huge step forward from the notch, to be honest. But, hey, the notch is something we've been seeing since the iPhone 10 in 2017, right? So it's nice to have the design change. It's just unfortunate that the iPhone 14, the standard model, may not be getting this update.
And for the most part, from all the rumors we've seen so far, it really looks like the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max are going to be the ones getting the biggest upgrades this year. And I guess that's just how it's going to be for now on from Apple. It's kind of what we saw last year, too.
We're also hearing that the iPhone 14 Pro will have an always-on screen. That's a rumor that's been around since last year. And more crucially, and more controversially, it sounds like Apple may just be giving us a processor upgrade only on the Pro lines. That means only the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max will be getting the new A16 Bionic chip.
That's the one we kind of expect to be happening next. Whereas the iPhone 14 standard models will just have the A15 Bionic from last year. Now, that is kind of a big deal. I don't think Apple has ever had such a huge speed variation between iPhone models, especially between the Pro and the standard lineup. But I also don't know if consumers will actually care.
The A15 chip is super fast. It's still faster than a lot of chips we're seeing in Android phones, and most consumers probably will not even notice the difference. If anything, it makes the Pro phones kind of a bigger deal and makes them more of a draw for Pro users and anybody who really wants to get the latest and greatest hardware.
Now let's move on to camera updates. And this has really always been an area that has separated the iPhone 14 Pro from the standard line. According to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple is planning to introduce a 48-megapixel sensor into the iPhone Pro line, which is a huge update because Apple has really relied on increasingly better 12-megapixel sensors over the last few years.
Now, that will be for the standard wide camera. And it also sounds like Apple could be introducing a new Ultra Wide sensor that has bigger pixels and will work better in low light, so that's going to be a nice update as well. Now, I don't think these are going to be big enough upgrades for anybody with an iPhone 13 Pro to upgrade immediately, but for photographers and people who really demand the best image quality possible, getting those extra megapixels is going to be a pretty big deal, and that's something a lot of Android phones have been doing for a while, too, so Apple just really needs to compete there.
As for the base iPhone 14, we're hearing that it's going to be getting the slightly improved Ultra Wide sensor that the iPhone 13 Pro had last year, so that's something. Now let's speculate a bit. Because a lot of people are thinking, what does Apple mean by "Far Out" with this event, and the invite also showed kind of a starfield.
We were thinking astrophotography. It could be all sorts of things. But we did see the news recently between T-Mobile and SpaceX where they announced that they're going to be bringing satellite emergency connectivity to some of their phones over the next couple of years, and that's going to be a pretty big deal, and that's likely what Apple was trying to do, and maybe they just wanted to get out ahead of Apple.
We've been hearing about satellite connectivity integration in iPhone since last year. And at that point, it did seem a little unbelievable. But now, the whole idea of it is certainly taking shape. According to Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple has finished testing out satellite connectivity hardware on the iPhone 14 Pro. Right now, it's just kind of waiting for contract fields with partners to figure out how it's actually going to provide that service, so we're all kind of waiting to see how that kind of shapes out.
But the other interesting thing that Kuo says is that the iPhone 13 models also had some satellite hardware in there, and I just want to see how that works out. Don't expect to be FaceTiming via satellite or anything, though. The low bandwidth from these connections really just makes them good for emergency messages or maybe voice calls, maybe very low-quality ones.
But the whole idea is that you'll have some connectivity if you're far out in the wild and away from typical cell towers. As for the Apple Watch, there have been a ton of rumors about a new Pro model that Apple's going to be introducing alongside the new Apple Watch Series 8. According to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, Apple has a new model that's more activity oriented.
It's going to have a slightly bigger 2-inch screen. It's going to have stronger titanium connectivity, a bigger battery, a low-power mode that could help it last for up to two days on a single charge. And this could be a Pro model. It could be an adventure model. We don't know what they're going to call it.
This Apple Watch Pro could also have the temperature sensor that's been rumored to come to the Apple Watch Series 8, and this is something that could help keep track of your temperature in case you're getting sick or about to have a fever. But it could also be useful for fertility tracking, or period tracking, and things like that, too. So this is a whole new technology, and it'll be really interesting to see how the Apple Watch takes advantage of it.
Rounding things out a bit-- we have heard a bit about the AirPods Pro 2. It's been almost three years since the first AirPods Pro came out. We love them. We gave them a glowing review. And it sounds like Apple has a couple of tricks up its sleeve for the new one.
There were initial rumors that it could have a completely new design that doesn't have the little antenna bars that they're kind of known for. But more recent rumors say that that's not the case. Instead, it's the AirPods Pro 2 case that's going to be getting a couple changes. There may be holes for a speaker, for the Find My App to just make noise if you lost it somewhere. And there may even be a little notch for you to attach a strap, or maybe an AirTag, or something like that.
There are also rumors that the AirPods Pro 2 could support Apple's lossless audio codec, maybe with the help of a new updated H1 chip. It's hard to tell if that's going to make a real difference. And certainly, with small earbuds, lossless audio may not even be a thing you can actually hear. But, hey, it's a thing you can market, so I'm sure Apple will try.
Don't get your hopes up for any health-tracking hardware in the AirPods Pro, though. There were early rumors that said it could have heart-rate-tracking hardware or body-temperature-sensing hardware, but it sounds like that's not happening at all. And last but not least is the iPad.
Now, Apple usually has a separate event for its higher-end iPads later in the fall, but for the last couple of years, Apple has given us some details on the base iPad, its cheapest one, during the iPhone event. This year, for the 10th-generation base iPad, we're hearing it may include USB-C support instead of Apple's Lightning connector.
It may have a slightly bigger screen, maybe something more akin to the Air, but don't get your hopes up for any major design changes. This is a device that Apple doesn't typically spend much time or energy on, so it's probably still going to have thick bezels. It's probably still going to have a Home button. But, you know, it's still going to be a great machine. And hopefully, they will be able to still keep that price.
The base iPad may finally get 5G support, according to some rumors. And we've also heard inklings that it may have a better front-facing camera as well. And certainly, with the whole-- all the software Apple is using for video chats at this point, that could be a big update. Stay tuned to Engadget.com for all of our news from Apple's hardware event on September 7.
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