September 6, 2017
Like clockwork, Apple has unveiled the date, September 12 at 1 PM ET, for their next press conference where they will reveal the latest iPhone, new Apple Watch, 4K Apple TV, and updates on iOS 11. With numerous leaks and rumors floating around the web, there is a lot to take in, so we’ve compiled the most likely inclusions for the press event. Of note, this year Apple is apparently going to shake things up with the release of not two, but three new versions of the iPhone.
Two of the iPhones are said to be standard upgrades, and the third will be an advanced or pro version with a better screen and resolution, edge-to-edge display, facial recognition, and no more home button.
As far as timing goes, preorders for the latest iPhone typically open up for pre-orders the Friday of the press event at midnight PT, September 15, but this year may not include every device. The phones are then typically made available the next Friday, September 22, in store and to those who pre-ordered them. The more advance iPhone is also said to have its pricing start at $1000, and there are two likely reasons for this.
Part of the supposed leaked pricing may indicate that Apple is trying to suppress orders (good luck with that) on the iPhone 8 due to production constraints, with it shipping in October of November, and the other component being tied to upgraded technology and materials in the build. As per usual, current generation devices are also likely to drop in price after the press event on September 12, which could include the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, Apple Watch Series 2, and potentially the Apple TV but it’s more likely the 4K version will cost more.
The press event will take place in the soon-to-open Steve Jobs Theater that sits outside of the new Apple Park. The 1000-person theater has been a bit of a mystery until now, with a leak of construction photos recently being shared to Instagram by MacMagazine.
Let’s start with naming. Typically every other year we get a full number, and the following year we get an S version (slight upgrade). Based on rumors, Apple will go one of two different ways: iPhone 8 or iPhone Pro (or iPhone 8 Pro). If Apple goes with the iPhone 8 name, it’s likely that the other two rumored versions will follow suit to the iPhone 7S and iPhone 7S Plus naming convention. If they dub the more advanced version iPhone Pro, then it’s possible Apple will skip the S generation and move the other two right to iPhone 8. There is also a distinct possibility that Apple will just move away from numbers all together.
Regardless of the naming convention, one iPhone will have beefier specs, and that means a larger price tag. According to rumors, the iPhone 8 could start at $1000 or nearly $350 more than the current generation of iPhones. The likely scenario would have it priced as 64GB for $1000, 256GB for $1,100, and 512GB for $1,200. However, pricing leaks in the past have been slightly inflated, some might even say tactically, so that the real price increase doesn’t look as bad.
Glass is back. Much like the iPhone 4, the more expensive iPhone is said to have a glass back, with a steel frame, and possible inner steel casing behind the glass. Before you freak out, improvements to Gorilla Glass could potentially make this even more durable than current gen iPhones, but that remains to be seen.
While it will retain the silent switch and volume control, the power button is supposedly getting slightly longer. The biggest change? No more home button. It’s all but confirmed, but this particular version of the iPhone will result in more surface space for the screen since the home button will be entirely removed, and much of the bezel will be gone as well. Now the screen will feature a notch at the top that includes dual front facing cameras and a slit for the ear speaker. The phone is also said to move from water resistance to waterproofing (IP68 vs IP67). That means it may be able to work while submerged under water.
As far as sizing goes, the iPhone 8 is said to be thicker, slightly longer, and wider than the standard 4.7” iPhone 7. However, the screen size could be about 5.8” due to the ditched home button and bezels, giving more real estate to the screen.
In order to replace the home button and touch ID, Apple is said to be introducing a biometric security feature or facial recognition in order to unlock the phone. Not only will the dual front facing cameras play a role in this, Apple will introduce a 3D sensor in the front so that you can’t just hold up a photo of someone to unlock it. On the back, the dual cameras are now said to be made vertical, which is mostly tied to the upcoming support for augmented reality or ARKit and depth of field. It will also likely film at 4K UHD and at 30 FPS.
Some rumors and prototypes showed that the home button moved to the back of the device, but the latest seem to think the glass body took priority due to wireless charging. Much like the Apple Watch and its magnetic wireless charging dock, the iPhone 8 is said to use similar technology.
After years of rumors, Apple may replace the retina display for an OLED one. Not only will resolution improve, it will offer brighter and more colorful outputs.
Other Likely Upgrades and Specs
Apple is likely to announce further updates to both sets of cameras, an improved battery (though it will be needed to support the other specs), a new A11 processor, 3GB of ram, replacing the haptic touch for taptic engine (more advanced vibrations), and it may come in gold, silver, and black.
iPhone 7S Plus, iPhone 7S
Much like the iPhone 8, naming on the two sub-iPhones are still up in the air. For the sake of everyone’s sanity, we’re going to call these the iPhone 7S and iPhone 7S plus, because historically that’s what these two would be called. Unlike the pro version with all the new bells and whistles, these two particular phones will see basic updates, a possible slight design change, and maybe one or two standout features.
The biggest change that may occur to these two models could come down to a design change. While these may retain the home button and bezels, the backing may now be a glass material, and the fame may be aluminum (rather than the iPhone 8’s steel frame). It’s also possible the design will just stay the same as the current generation of iPhones, but less likely. The main reason that a glass body would be introduced is that wireless charging may be one of the standout features, just like on the iPhone 8.
However, it’s not likely to receive an OLED screen, vastly improved front facing cameras, a bump in memory, or major improvements to the cameras. Rumors have these two phones featuring the new A11 processor, 2GB of memory (same), a positioning shift for the camera, moved from water resistance to water proof, and an improved battery life.
Apple Watch Series 3
Last year Apple introduced a new version of their watch that included fast processing, battery life, and of course a GPS. This year, Apple Watch Series 3 may fully untether from your phone with the addition of an LTE chip. This would mean for those who use the watch for fitness based activities that you’d no longer have to bring your phone as well. As a result the watch could take and place calls, use data, and even stream music without tethering to another device. The downside? Each of these us a lot of battery, so Apple would have also needed to vastly improve that as well.
On the software side Apple earlier in the year announced stronger health tracking features like Glucose monitoring that speaks to other devices. For more than a year now it was rumored that Apple may start creating or opening up their bands to third-party providers that include additional features. So far rumors have been minimal at best around this concept though.
4K Apple TV
When the last version of Apple TV was announced, many were surprised to see that it did not support 4K content. Even now with 4K not being a fully mainstream element of consumer TVs, it would appear that Apple is at least fulfilling on this front. The new version of Apple TV is likely to support 4K and HDR content, which means you’ll get a greater range between whites and blacks on your TV screen. The biggest confirmed change doesn’t amount to hardware though, as Apple has been heavily investing in original content, but at least we finally get Amazon Prime on it.
Software: iOS 11, WatchOS, tvOS
For the most part there won’t be all too many surprises when it comes to the latest software. A few months back when Apple announced the latest OS versions, things like augmented reality, peer-to-peer Apple Pay, and Siri improvements were all front and center. However, with the likely removal of the home button on the iPhone 8, new facial recognition software will come into play and may up against the new 3D sensor.
Over the past few months developers have been beta testing several iterations of iOS 11, and there are quite a few changes set to hit. For starters, the homescreen may look the same or similar, but the lockscreen and notification center will now be combined. The control center (thing that appears when you swipe up) will now be fully widgetized. That means you’ll be able to toggle on and off whatever widgets you want to control without the hassle of finding the app and using 3D touch.
For new apps and features, Apple will roll out ARKit, or a platform that allows developers to create augmented reality apps. The notes app will also support handwriting, and your phone will be able to decipher your chicken scratch to index what you wrote (it also supports Apple Pencil). Apple will also finally launch a files app that lets you better manage your images, content, and cloud based storage folders. Siri is also said to receive quite a few updates, as she now has a new natural sounding voice, you’ll be able to type commands to her, and can do some minor translating, too. Maps will also receive an update, while probably still sucking, and introduce new detailed maps within airports.
There will also be two new privacy and security settings. The first, Do Not Disturb While Driving mode, will visually pause incoming notifications when the phone detects you are driving. It’ll resume once it believes you are no longer driving. The other that has been dubbed cop mode, will allow you to disable the Touch ID system by pressing the home button five times. Prior to this update you’d have to do a hard phone reset or turn it off and back on to disable Touch ID.
For the iPhone 8, expect things like facial recognition to unlock your phone and gesture controls in place of the home button (swipes, not hand motions). iOS 11 will also bring updates to the various cameras, though it’s unclear if each new iPhone will support scene and lighting detection.
Besides likely bringing in support for 4K and HDR content, tvOS’ update will bring in Amazon Prime video. There will probably be additional tweaks to the UI or other standard apps that encourage users to consume Apple’s new original content.
The details regarding the latest watchOS are still a bit hazy with a new possible version looming; however, it is confirmed that there will be new music features and a Siri based watch face.
Rumors and updates on HomePod have been few and far between; however, it’s likely that Apple will announce the release date for their advance home audio system and the price is confirmed at $349. While it will be infused with Siri, it’s more akin to the likes of Sonos.
AirPods Update: Colors?
Last year Apple release AirPods, a fully wireless set of in-ear earbuds. Currently they only come in white, and it’s likely that Apple will introduce additional colors.
Read more coverage about the upcoming Apple devices at TechCo
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