What to Expect from Apple's September Event (Hint: Maybe No iPhones)

Illustration for article titled What to Expect from Apples September Event (Hint: Maybe No iPhones)
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Since the very beginning of time, which has lost all meaning at this point, almost every September has delivered a new iPhone. It’s possible that Apple’s event next week will also deliver a new iPhone, but for the first time in many moons, we may not see a phone.

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Rumor has it that, due to production delays caused by covid-19, Apple may push its iPhone event to October. But there’s still an event next week! And that’s because there are a few other products—actually, quite a lot—on deck.

There’s a serious queue of stuff waiting to exit Apple Park and wind up in Apple stores. Here’s what we expect to see (and what might not appear) at next week’s live-streamed event.

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No New iPhone

As I already noted, production delays may have pushed back the shipping date for the iPhone. In previous years, Apple’s gone ahead and shown the phone off in September anyways. But this year it seems more likely that Apple will wait until October to announce the new phone, with Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman speculating that an Apple Watch and iPad will be the focus of next week’s event, the iPhone 12 the showcase in October, and an event just for the brand new ARM-based Mac in November.

Multiple Watches

Apple’s invitation to press (who will be watching the live-stream remotely instead of going to Apple Park) included the phrase: “Time Flies.” Get it? Time! Definitely a watch. But never before has a watch been the centerpiece of an Apple event, which leads me to believe that rumors of multiple watches—a flagship device and a cheaper one—could be plausible.

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A recent Bloomberg report indicates that Apple is planning to replace the Apple Watch Series 3—now three years old and showing its age compared to newer smartwatches—with an upgraded yet still affordable model. The cheaper watch could feature advanced health features like fall detection but forego a bigger always-on display to lower the price.

The flagship Series 6 is expected to include even more advanced health features than we’ve seen from Apple Watches so far. We’re expecting an SpO2 sensor, which detects the level of oxygen in your blood and could be used to diagnose respiratory issues. While it doesn’t look like Apple has received clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for any new medical features, the company also managed to keep its electrocardiogram feature’s clearance under wraps until launch. Anything is possible!

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Delayed OS Releases

It would be a little strange for Apple to release the watch without an iPhone—although the two easily function independently of each other, especially if you buy a cellular version of the watch, you still can’t use the latest version of watchOS without the latest version of iOS. If Apple holds off on new iPhones, it may hold off on rolling out iOS 14 too—and that means it’ll have to hold off on releasing watchOS 7, which includes a suite of new features (including sleep-tracking and hand-washing detection).

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A Brand New iPad Air

Rumor has it a refreshed iPad Air will take center stage alongside new watches on Tuesday. The 11-inch tablet is expected to look more like an iPad Pro, with a bigger display, slimmer bezels, and Face ID replacing the fingerprint sensor. We could also see support for Apple’s Magic Keyboard case for the 11-inch iPad Pro, which would be a game-changer for those who want a high-end iPad accessory without shelling out $800 for a Pro model iPad.

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Those Long Gestating Side Projects

We may also see a handful of smaller products, like a pair of Apple-branded over-the-ear headphones that rumors suggest will called AirPod Studio and a a refreshed HomePod speaker, which could be a lot smaller and cheaper than the big guy currently sitting in very few living rooms (rumored since before WWDC).

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There’s also the long-awaited Bluetooth AirTags, which are expected to help you keep track of items you frequently misplace. But if this event is all about the Apple Watch and the iPad, it might make more sense of the AirTags are announced along with the easier-to-lose iPhone.

One More Thing...

Finally, there could be One More Thing: the first Mac with Apple Silicon inside. While it’s within the realm of possibility that Apple could show off, or even just tease, its promised new Macs at Tuesday’s event, it’s much more likely that Apple will announce it at a separate event as it did for the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar way back in October 2016 and the MacBook Air in October 2018.

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Apple’s September event kicks off at 10 a.m. PT on Tuesday, Sept. 15. Apple will be streaming the event from its website, and we’ll be live-blogging the entire thing here on gizmodo dot com. Join us!

Consumer tech editor, Gizmodo.

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DISCUSSION

mrfurious72
Mr. Furious

I’m curious about how the phones being pushed back will impact the iPhone Upgrade Program. Basically, the conceit is that you can trade your phone in after a year and start another 24-month cycle, with your old phone serving as the payoff for your existing loan as long as you’ve made a year’s worth of payments.

But if it’s pushed back a month, then that’s another month of equity that people will have built-up but presumably not get credit for. And then next year, if it goes back to a September launch, would Apple expect 12 months of payments to satisfy the loan?