Apple’s annual iPhone unveiling ritual is set to take place early Thursday morning. And while there’s a limit to how many surprises we can expect after 15 straight years of repeated smartphone upgrades, would-be innovators should know that all signs point to significant new technology in the expensive iPhone 14 Pro models, though not so much elsewhere.
Rumors point to Apple once again introducing four phone models this year, though the range will be slightly different than in 2021. The company reportedly wasn’t too happy with sales of its mini-size iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 — or at least not happy enough to continue in the increased cost of creating three differently shaped phones – so the iPhone 14 is expected to only be available in the regular 6.1-inch and Max 6.7-inch sizes.
Each size is expected to have both a regular and a Pro version, which would mark the first time since 2018 that Apple revealed a large phone without a Pro moniker. It’s safe to assume, though not exactly guaranteed, that these phones will be called iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Max (or Plus), iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max.
In terms of new features, the Pro models will reportedly get a new pill-shaped display cutout to house the Face ID hardware, replacing the existing notch, as well as new rear camera hardware and the long-awaited always-on display. The standard models are expected to be much more similar to the iPhone 13.
Some analysts have even said that the standard phones will keep last year’s processor, while the Pro models will be upgraded to the new A16 chip. It would be the first time Apple has used two different chips in the same generation, and could point to supply issues related to the current global semiconductor shortage.
On the watch side, Apple is expected to unveil the Apple Watch Series 8 as well as a larger and more durable Apple Watch Pro designed for extreme outdoor use. Apple usually offers an older model of the Watch alongside the latest and greatest, and some analysts have suggested that a new Watch SE could also arrive this year to clean up the line-up to just three new devices.
So what was Apple on about with its invitation to this year’s event, which featured a galactic image and the text “far out”? It could refer to some kind of astrophotography feature, but current iPhones are already pretty good at it. Some suggest Apple has struck a deal with satellite company Globalstar, which recently disclosed a $US300 million ($441 million) deal with an unnamed customer. This could potentially mean being able to send an SOS message from your phone or watch via satellite if you didn’t have mobile reception, such as when you’re out in the wild.
As usual, everything we think we know about Apple’s plans comes from reporters from sources inside Apple, including Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, supply chain analysts like TF International Securities’ Ming-Chi Ko, and other factories sources such as dummy manufacturers and protective case makers. While information about the physical appearance of the device tends to be accurate, Apple is more secretive about its software plans, and there could always be a surprise or two at the event.
We will certainly find out from Thursday 3:00, when everything will be revealed.
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