The pandemic’s time elasticity vortex may have you constantly wondering what day it is, but there’s at least one certainty in gadget land each fall: Apple will launch a new iPhone. Apple is hosting its annual fall hardware event this morning, and, as usual, the entire tech industry (and anyone who’s been thinking it’s time to buy a new iPhone) will be watching—online—to get a sense of how Apple is both responding to and advancing trends in consumer tech.
We know one thing for sure heading into the media event: There will be a new iPhone in at least two variations. (TBD on whether it will be called “iPhone 13”—maybe Apple will realize that the numeral naming convention is starting to get a bit ridiculous.) An early report from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman suggests that some of the biggest enhancements to the new iPhone will be camera features, including a higher-quality video format, a bokeh effect for video capture, and “smarter” filters. Unsurprisingly, the new iPhones will also be powered by Apple’s newest custom chip, and they will finally catch up to Samsung’s flagship phones in terms of screen refresh rate. And an investors’ note from Wedbush Securities’ Dan Ives has suggested that the high-end “Pro” model of the new iPhone might have a whopping 1-terabyte storage option.
Other rumor roundups have pointed to a redesigned iPad mini, as well as new AirPods, as part of the fall hardware launch. The invitation to the virtual event included a reference to “California streaming” and contained an image that suggested augmented reality might be a part of the event. (There was even an AR easter egg hidden in the invite.)
Some of the more significant news might be around what’s not immediately available for preorder this week: the Apple Watch. The Apple Watch Series 7 will reportedly be delayed due to production issues, though some reports have also indicated that the hurdles may be cleared in time for today's event. A production delay on a well-established product suggests that the Series 7 watch, whenever it launches, might include a significant design change or the inclusion of new features that go beyond run-of-the-mill activity tracking. But it also shows that Apple is not immune to the manufacturing troubles or supply constraints affecting the rest of the consumer tech industry.
Apple’s fall hardware event is also happening at a time of reckoning for the company. It has weathered the pandemic remarkably well so far, as have many tech companies, with consumers clamoring for the smartphones, tablets, laptops, and web services that enable remote working, learning, exercising, unwinding, and connecting. But Apple’s sheer bigness and influence in our lives has also come into sharper focus this year, with the Epic trial, the company’s presence in China, its controversial decision (and then walk-back) to scan iCloud photos, and even unrest within its US workforce. An iPhone launch is no longer just an iPhone launch. Then again, for a certain set of consumers who are just wondering if they should get a new iPhone … it’s an iPhone launch.
How to Watch
Apple's presentation will start at 1 pm Eastern, 10 am Pacific, on Tuesday, September 14. You can stream it in the player above. You can also view the stream on Apple’s website or on the company’s YouTube channel.
You can also watch it in the Apple TV app. Now that Apple has its own streaming service, it also has a dedicated video app on mobile devices, Apple TV boxes, Roku boxes, and in some smart TVs. You can open that app and find the option to stream today's event whether or not you subscribe to the monthly Apple TV+ streaming service.
We'd recommend launching the stream on your television using either your YouTube app or the Apple TV app; virtual events still aren’t quite as exciting as attending in-person ones, but watching it on a larger screen at least makes it feel like an event. Besides, if you watch it on your television, that frees up your laptop for tweeting snarkily into the Apple enthusiast Twitterverse (soon, no doubt, to become the “metaverse”).
Expect Apple's presentation to last anywhere from 60 minutes to two hours. And, of course, once the event ends, come back to WIRED.com. We’ll be rounding up the most significant news and offering our analysis of the event.