By Justin Jaffe
(CNET) – Apple season kicks off this week — and this year’s bounty could be plentiful.
On Wednesday, we expect to see three new iPhones, including a new iPhone X, a supersized version called the iPhone XS Max and a less expensive variant possibly called the iPhone XR. That iPhone trio will take center stage in an event that’s also expected to show off a new, bigger Apple Watch Series 4. New iPad Pros, new Macs and Apple’s AirPower wireless charging accessory — originally announced a year ago and never shipped — are also possibilities.
On Monday, a report from Bloomberg adds new specifics to some well-established iPhone rumors already in circulation. According to Mark Gurman, who has a good track record on these things, the next generation flagship will be called the iPhone XS and will feature an upgraded processor and cameras, and come in gold, gray and silver. A plus-sized version, the iPhone XS Max, will have a 6.5-inch display — by far the largest screen Apple has used for a phone to date. And the company will introduce a (relatively) less expensive third version, which may be called the “iPhone XR,” with a 6.1-inch LCD screen.
That lines up with previous rumors, but Gurman notes that the “entry-level” 6.1-inch phone could have a starting price as high as $849. While that makes sense as a $50 premium over the 5.5-inch iPhone 8 Plus — and it’s less than the current $999 5.8-inch iPhone X — it may well disappoint shoppers looking for an alternative to the $699 iPhone 8. Furthermore, Gurman notes that the 6.1-inch phone may be available in limited quantities to start.
These new details come with just two days to go until Apple’s Sept. 12 event at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California. Bloomberg has previously reported that Apple will also use the event to introduce a redesigned Apple Watch and new iPad Pros as well as a refresh of the Mac line — though it’s unclear if new products like a rumored MacBook Air replacement will also be announced on Wednesday or at a separate event later this year.
With so many new Apple products on deck, we’ve collected all of the reports and rumors herein. Just note that nothing here has been explicitly confirmed unless otherwise indicated — Apple almost never comments on forthcoming product announcements. With that caveat in place, read on for the lowdown on what we’re hearing about new Apple products in the pipeline and when we might see them.
Three new iPhones
Apple has faithfully announced new iPhones every September since 2012, when it debuted the iPhone 5. And the company has offered two new models — the “standard” 4.7-inch size and “Plus” 5.5-inch version with a better camera — since 2014. Last year, it outdid itself with three new models, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, and a few weeks later the radically redesigned iPhone X. This year, Apple is widely expected to repeat that feat with a trio of totally new models based on the X design: No home button, nearly all screen, equipped with Face ID.
Here’s what we expect to see:
- The sequel (iPhone XS): The follow-up to last year’s flagship, rumored to be called the iPhone XS, will likely get a bump in performance, better dual cameras and longer battery life, while retaining the same (or similar) 5.8-inch OLED screen. Pricing could start at $899.
- The big one (iPhone XS Max): Apple is said to have developed a larger, 6.5-inch version of the iPhone X — possibly called the iPhone XS Max — that could have three rear cameras and start somewhere between $999 and $1,100 or more. It’s possible that Apple Pencil support could be added, too, to compete with Samsung’s pro-focused Galaxy Note phones.
- The less expensive one (iPhone XR): A 6.1-inch variation may feature an LCD display, a single rear camera and an aluminum design. And it could be relatively less expensive, starting somewhere between $699 and $849. Both larger phones may also get support for dual SIM cards in some countries, according to that Aug. 27 Bloomberg story. But the 6.1-inch phone may not ship until October.
Plus, maybe a fourth sort of new iPhone
Bloomberg’s most recent report does not mention the iPhone SE — the most affordable option in Apple’s phone lineup since its 2016 debut — but we’ve heard persistent murmurs about a possible refresh this year. The Frankenstein’s monster of Apple’s lineup, the SE takes all of the components of an iPhone 6S, minus 3D Touch, and stuffs them into the smaller body of an iPhone 5. Apple gave it a modest refresh in 2017, but a major update is way overdue.
According to the rumors, Apple may deliver yet one more minor makeover in 2018, giving the iPhone SE 2 the same A10 processor used in 2016’s iPhone 7. Will that refreshed SE retain its miniature 4-inch screen along with the $349 (£349, AU$549) starting price? We’ll find out soon enough.
Apple Watch 4
An image of what’s purported to be the Apple Watch 4 published by 9to5Mac.
9to5MacWith Google and Samsung ratcheting up the smartwatch competition, Apple has a real incentive to shake things up with a dramatic new Watch announcement in 2018. Bloomberg reports that the new model will have “the most significant changes” since it launched in 2014 — which could include a bigger display with a higher resolution and more real estateand click-free buttons. At the very least, we know Apple will debut WatchOS 5 (previewed at this year’s WWDC developer conference), featuring fitness improvements, an instant watch-to-watch walkie-talkie mode, support for podcasts and an ability to play audio from third-party apps on the go.
New iPad Pro
When Apple debuted the latest iPad in March, adding Pencil support and a faster processor, it narrowed the gap between the entry-level tablet and its much more expensive Pro siblings. Now, rumors suggest that the company will look to justify the Pro’s premium pricing with a major redesign inspired by the iPhone X’s design — shrinking the bezels, dropping the home button and adding Face ID. Bloomberg reports that we’ll see two new models — an 11-inch and 12.9-inch version.
Sources report that Apple is developing a pair of higher-end AirPods, with noise-cancellation, water resistance and wireless charging. Larger, over-ear headphones — Apple-branded, not Beats — could also be on deck. At the very least, though, expect software improvements and wireless charging accessories to to be added to the AirPods; both have been previously announced by Apple.
With the public beta having launched in June, we expect Apple to follow its normal schedule and release the full version of its next mobile operating system alongside the new iPhones in mid-September. (It usually happens the week after Apple’s big media event.) In addition to enhancing Siri, giving FaceTime a faceliftand introducing Memojis, Apple is said to be focusing on improving basic performance on older models with this next release. And while group FaceTime has already been delayed, Apple often reveals a handful of new features in its mobile operating system that will be exclusive to the new iPhones — so some surprises may yet be on deck.
MacOS Mojave is available now as a public beta and will be officially released as a free update this fall. It’ll introduce a number of new features, from a dark mode and desktop Stacks to a new Finder view and a few familiar faces from iOS. You’ll also find four familiar iOS apps on your Mac after updating to Mojave, along with some added privacy features to protect you from Facebook and other advertisers.
Apple’s streaming service and new TV shows
Apple has nabbed big-name deals with Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, M. Night Shyamalan and Steven Spielberg, among many others. It’s also hired two top television executives to spearhead the effort. And the company has been deploying a $1 billion budget in the last year to recruit projects from those high-profile film and television stars. The thing is — we know almost nothing about how and where these shows will be made available. Might Apple create one bundle to rule them all?
Everything else we may see from Apple
- AirPower: Announced roughly one year ago, Apple hasn’t mentioned its Apple’s wireless charging pad since. We might finally see this product in September.
- HomePod: Apple is said to be mulling a smaller, less expensive HomePod — but it’s not expected until 2019.
- Apple TV: As a product that rarely gets a major annual update, the rollout of TVOS 12, featuring Dolby Atmos support, is likely to be the biggest change coming to Apple TV 4K in the near-term. Read Apple TV wishlist: 5 things we’d like to see on Sept. 12 for our best case scenario for new Apple TV announcements.