Beyond the new 'iPhone Xs,' what to expect from Apple's Sept. 12 'Gather round' special event
Now the invitation is out, you could brace yourself for speculation, wild predictions, a lot of wishful thinking, and a few Apple leaks. AppleInsider examines Apple's hardware lineup, detailing what we might see — and exactly why.
The days between Apple's invitation and the event happening are a grace period where every analyst, every pundit and really everyone will be calling the odds on what will be announced. We didn't expect Apple itself to slip up, though. Here's how to judge for yourself what's based in fact and what's based on fancy.
If you think that we last talked about this on Aug. 20 when we predicted the Sept. 12 event date, you'd be right. There's been some changes since then, though.
What says yes: Six years of iPhone releases at this time plus leaks from the chain of companies making and supplying parts say yes. Also Apple's last financial earnings call specifically spoke of an expected increase in sales at this time. And apparent leaks from Apple itself. They should know — though they should also know better.
Based on recurring information from these sources, it appears we will see three new iPhones of which two will sport OLED screens. This is the technology Apple brought with the iPhone X last year so it's reasonably to assume that the sequel to that phone will be one of the two. Then given the sizes being mooted, the second OLED model is probably going to be a Plus version of the iPhone X.
That size is believed to be 6.5 inches as opposed to the iPhone X and its sequel's 5.8 inches. The third phone is expected to have a 6.1 inch screen. If it lacks the OLED display then it's likely to be the replacement for this year's lower-priced iPhone 8. However, that phone had a significantly smaller screen size of 4.7 inches.
An apparent marketing leak from Apple itself on the day it released the invitation seems to confirm much of this. The leak shows two OLED phones and reveals the name iPhone XS for both. It also shows a new gold color which had been rumored in a report by analyst Ming-Cho Kuo.
Kuo also suggested that the 6.1 inch iPhone will ship in a large variety of colors.
It's possible that all three phones will feature the depth-sensing system that powered the iPhone X's TrueDepth camera array last year. This is based on an earnings report from TrueDepth parts supplier Lumentum which showed a increase in profits in June and an expected acceleration of orders.
Backing that up is an announcement from similar supplier Finisar of it buying a new manufacturing plant of 700,000 square feet. Plus that purchase was made with the help of a $390 million grant — from Apple.
What says no: Nothing, other than they haven't actually been announced yet. There is a curious lack of anything approaching evidence regarding the iPhone SE — but if it isn't updated then it's likely to stay in the product line at a lower price.
That would mean, though, that for the first time, all of Apple's most powerful phones are large ones.
New Apple Watch
What says yes: Documentation filed with the Euroasian Economic Commission. That's pretty compelling: it's not a leak, not speculation, it's actual documentary evidence. It's just a shame that it's so vague. The sole detail from it is that there are going to be multiple models of the Apple Watch.
Still, it confirms what the same apparent Apple leak about new iPhones has also shown. It features a new design for the Apple Watch and reportedly its name: "Series 4."
You can buy Apple Watch now in multiple models: there are two sizes of it plus versions with LTE. The reason to believe that this filing represents something further, even before the Apple leak, was that it is a new filing. If there had been no changes to the Watch then there would not be a need to file documentation. Apart from patents, Apple never files anything that would give away information unless it has to.
What says no: It may be presumptive to assume that models we know are coming must therefore be unveiled at this event.
What says yes: Supply chain rumors, and the age of the existing iPad Pro models. Speculation from the supply chain suggests a reduction in size for both models of the iPad Pro.
Specifically, the report is that the 10.5 inch iPad Pro will be reduced from 250.6 x 174.1 x 6.1 millimeters to 247.5 x 178.7 x 6. Similarly, the 12.9 inch is said tochange from 305.7 x 220.6 x 6.9 millimeters to 280 x 215 x 6.4.
It's unlikely, though not impossible, that Apple will reduce the size of the displays in these iPads. So it's more likely that what's happening is a reduction in the bezel area around the screen as in this mockup.
If so, it's reasonable to infer that the iPad Pro models will be getting a similar design to the iPhone X — and that suggests FaceID is probable.
That same report says that the iPad Pro will lose its headphone jack. There's more room in an iPad than in an iPhone so the pressure to save space has been less — but it would fit with the desire to bring the iPhone X design to the larger devices.
While we're concentrating on Apple hardware here, you will see rumors based on designs from other companies. One says that a manufacturer has leaked a design for a new cover case meant for the iPad Pro. It shows the Smart Connector moving to a new position on these models, which is something that has previously been rumored separately.
However, the market for cases for Apple devices is so big that companies have routinely gambled on going into production based on speculation. It sounds insane but it happens. If you're first to market and you have a case that fits, you win big. So this iPad Pro case could be fake, could be a company gambling or it could be true.
What says no: Only the fact that this is an iPhone event. However, while last year's event didn't include any iPads, it did include updates to both the Apple Watch and Apple TV. These are all based on iOS but then so are the iPads.
Release of macOS Mojave, iOS 12, tvOS 12 and watchOS 5
What says yes: Absolutely everything. This is certain and perhaps it is the sole absolute certainty. Apple has explicitly revealed the details and the timescale for all of these major operating system updates and it did so back in June at this year's WWDC event.
There have been changes since then, however. Through a series of developer and then public beta tests of iOS 12, for example, we've seen refinements — and a removal. The highly touted Group FaceTime feature won't be included in the version of iOS 12 released on September 12 but it will follow later this year.
What says no: Nothing whatsoever. The iPad Pro hasn't seen an update since the 2017 WWDC.
What says yes: There's little to suggest that we'll see any Mac hardware at this event but Bloomberg reports that a new Mac mini is on the way, soon.
It's believed that the update will turn the machine into more of a pro tool than a consumer one. If so, it'll be being aimed at companies running server farms with dozens or thousands of them and is likely to be priced for business.
The same report is the origin for the rumors about a new low-cost MacBook arriving to take the place of the ageing MacBook Air.
What says no: This is Apple's iPhone event. The company is very, very good at creating events that garner the most attention and it never dilutes or wastes that. It is more likely that the Mac mini will be released after this event, possibly in October like when the company has rolled them out in the past.
What says yes: Apple's own announcement this time last year suggests that the AirPower charging product will be coming. It's surely not going to be just teased again, but equally Apple is not going to remove wireless charging from its phones so its absence would be odd.
We do also know for certain that a new Mac Pro is on its way — but Apple has stated that it will be released in 2019.
What says no: Apart from the AirPower, everything says that there will be no other hardware at all. Rumors of a mini HomePod, for instance, are wishful thinking, given that the HomePod has yet to see a holiday sales season.
Mind you, we're assuming that Gather Round invitation graphic is an image of Apple Park: it could be the top of a HomePod too.
Where to find out more
Right here. AppleInsider will be bringing you all of the facts and testing the rumors up to the September 12 date itself. Then of course on the day you'll be able to follow every detail as Apple unveils it.
You can of course also watch Apple unveiling everything. As is now normal, the entire event is going to be streamed online and on Apple TV.
This time, though, it's rumored that Apple will also stream the event via Twitter — but we'll see about that part.
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