Apple CEO Tim Cook took to the stage at the much-anticipated “Gather Round” media extravaganza in Cupertino this morning, and the usual leaks in the buildup to the annual hardware-focused event meant that we already had some idea of what to expect.
With the event now over, here’s a quick recap of all the key announcements to emerge from the Steve Jobs Theater today.
Before the main action unfolded, Cook actually revealed that Apple has almost hit a major milestone of 2 billion iOS devices shipped, meaning it has taken just shy of four years to double up on its previous big billion milestone.
But few people likely cared about those numbers. Everyone was waiting to find out about all the juicy new products.
The first big announcement from the event was the new Apple Watch Series 4, which sports the first major design overhaul since the smart timepiece’s introduction back in 2015.
Besides new internals, the watches — which again come in two sizes — feature a 35 percent larger display on the smaller incarnation and 32 percent larger display on the bigger model. It’s also a little thinner than the predecessor and ships with a bunch of new health-focused features such as the ability to detect falls, take ECGs, and guide you through breathing exercises.
It’s also worth highlighting that the Apple Watch Series 4 now comes with a new S4 chip inside, which is a dual-core 64-bit processor that promises twice the performance of the previous Apple Watch.
Elsewhere, Apple also demoed a bunch of new features that will be enabled with the upcoming watchOS update, including improved activity tracking and automatic workout detection. The updated watchOS 5 will be available from September 17.
The Apple Watch Series 4 starts at $399, though the cellular model kicks off at $499. Both will be available to buy on preorder this coming Friday, but they won’t ship until September 21.
The stars of the show, as expected, were the new slate of iPhone devices.
First up, the company unveiled the 5.8-inch iPhone XS and 6.5-inch iPhone XS Max, which are similar to last year’s models aesthetically but come with the usual design and performance tweaks that we’ve come to expect from its S-branded devices.
But with the 6.-5 inch screen on the iPhone XS Max, Apple now has its biggest — and highest resolution — smartphone on the market.
Apple also confirmed a previous rumor: Both its new flagship phones will come with dual-SIM capabilities, with most markets gaining access to this feature through eSIM technology that has previously been made available on some iPads. However, in China Apple will include two physical SIM slots.
Powering the duo of devices is the new A12 processor, the company’s first 7-nanometer chip, which promises 50 percent improved graphics performance. It also comes with an eight-core Neural Engine, which is geared toward vastly enhanced machine learning capabilities. Apple also demonstrated a new real-time augmented reality (AR) game based on the classic Galaga arcade game.
In addition to the two new flagships, Apple unveiled the cheaper iPhone XR smartphone, featuring a Liquid Retina display. While it’s similar to the iPhone X, it sports a lower-end screen and a bunch of other downgrades such as a single-lens rear camera and an LCD screen rather than OLED.
The iPhone XS starts at $999, while the Xs Max will kick off at $1,099, and both devices are available on preorder from September 14 with a shipping date of one week later. The iPhone XR starts at $749 and will be available on preorder from October 19, though it won’t ship until October 26.
While iOS 12 was unveiled for developers earlier this year, it’s typical that Apple formally launches the upgraded mobile operating system to the public around the time of new iPhones … and this year is no different. The company revealed that iOS 12 will be available to all compatible iPhones from September 17.
In other news
In addition to the Watch and iPhone reveals, Apple shoehorned a handful of extra tidbits into its announcements today.
One of the most notable of those news tidbits is that the Apple HomePod smart speaker will soon support phone calls, meaning you can ask Siri to call a specific number or contact from your address book. Siri will also soon be able to converse in Spanish, set multiple timers, and search for songs based on lyrics.
Apple TV and macOS
Apple released the betas for iOS 12, watchOS 5, macOS Mojave, and tvOS 12 at its annual WWDC developer event in June. We already knew that the first of those OS upgrades will get their official launches on September 17, but Apple also quietly revealed that tvOS 12 will be unfurled that same day, though macOS Mojave won’t arrive until September 24.
Discounts and deaths
Most new iPhone launches are accompanied by news of big discounts on older models, as well as the killing off of some older models. Keeping up with tradition, Apple has knocked $100 off the price of an iPhone 7 and iPhone 8, while it revealed it will no longer sell the iPhone SE and iPhone 6s — this means that you can longer officially buy an iPhone with a 3.5mm headphone jack. The company also took the big decision to discontinue last year’s iPhone X.
Finally, Apple is also cutting the price of the Apple Watch Series 3 so it now starts at $279, while the Series 1 incarnation has now been discontinued.