Apple on Wednesday held its annual fall product event, and we got some big iPhone news — literally. Apple revealed larger-screened (and more expensive) smartphones and a new Apple Watch at its headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., marking the second year it has announced new gadgets from the Steve Jobs Theater.
2:51 p.m. A few more things — and that’s a wrap!
CEO Tim Cook closed the presentation with a couple of small updates. Apple is updating HomePod to let people search for songs by lyrics. People will also be able to create multiple timers on the smart speaker, a feature competitors have added.
The company is also releasing an update to its macOS system for computers, which people can download on Sept. 24.
2:49 p.m. Apple touts its environmental credentials
Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives, took the stage to talk about the company’s commitment to sustainability in one of the longest product-launch presentations on the topic in years.
She touted Apple’s promise to someday make its products without mining new material. Apple has also made a robot, dubbed Liam, that can disassemble old iPhones faster than a human for recycling.
But Apple has gotten a “D” grade from Greenpeace for its “its product life extension,” in part because they’re difficult to repair and recycle — cutting back on their potential life span. As The Post reported recently, some recyclers say they face a fire risk removing lithium-ion batteries from old electronics made by Apple, Samsung, Microsoft and others.
2:44 p.m. One more iPhone — the iPhone XR — and prices
The iPhone Xs will start at $999, while the Xs Max will begin at $1,099. Preorders start Sept. 14, and they will be in U.S. stores Sept. 21.
Apple is also introducing a $749 new phone, the iPhone XR, which Apple’s worldwide marketing lead Philip Schiller said is intended to bring iPhone X technology to a broader audience.
The aluminum phone comes in six colors: white, black, blue, coral, yellow and red. The iPhone XR has no home button but will vibrate to simulate a button press. It has a 6.1-inch edge-to-edge display. That’s similar in design to the iPhone X but uses a screen technology, LCD, that Apple’s used for its older models and is less expensive to produce.
The XR has a 12 megapixel rear-facing camera and has Apple’s Portrait Mode — unlike the iPhone 8, the cheapest new iPhone Apple announced last year. It is supposed to have 90 minutes more battery life than the iPhone 8 Plus.
The new versions of the phones mean prices drop on older models. The iPhone 7 will now start at $449 and the Phone 8 at $599.
2:15 p.m. The meaning of “s” in Xs
Apple so far hasn’t shown any major new phone features for its iPhone Xs line, with executives mostly focusing on faster processing power, improved speakers and better graphics performance. Apple has traditionally used “s” models to make more subtle and technical improvements. But those phones usually had at least one major model-defining feature to attract potential upgraders — and justify their higher prices.
1:52 p.m. New iPhones
Here come the iPhones. “iPhone X has changed the industry,” Cook told the crowd, before promising another upgrade. He then immediately introduced the iPhone Xs — that’s “ten-ess,’ for those curious about the pronunciation.
The Xs builds on the trends Apple set with last year’s iPhone X, with the same nearly all-screen front and characteristic notch.
The iPhone Xs has a 5.8-inch screen, which is the same size as the iPhone X; the iPhone 8 Plus has a 5.5-inch display. The Xs comes in gold, silver and space gray.
But that’s not all. Worldwide marketing lead Philip Schiller also announced the iPhone Xs Max, which has an iPhone X-style 6.5-inch display and revamped speakers that Apple promises produce better stereo sound.
Both sport Face ID, which Apple says is the”most secure facial authentication ever in a smartphone.” Both phones can have up to 512 GB of storage.
The phones have had an internal revamp as well, that promise better graphics performance and a “neural engine” that ups the iPhone’s machine learning capabilities.
Apple hasn’t unveiled the prices of the new phones yet — but expect them to be expensive.
1:46 p.m. Apple Watch Series 4
Apple unveiled Series 4 of its Apple Watch, with a larger display and a new electrical heart sensor that further morphs the tech accessory into a health device. It costs $399 (and up) and it goes on sale Sept. 14, with delivery Sept. 21.
While the overall volume of the new watch is smaller, the screen pushes closer to the edges, offering about 30 percent more usable screen area. Apple redesigned its watchOS software and watch faces that can display up to eight “complications,” or tiny app displays. We’ll have to see if that helps or just makes the Apple Watch more, well, complicated.
The addition of the electrical heart sensor to the back of the watch allows it to take an electrocardiogram, which produces data the owner can share with a doctor. The watch can also detect — and alert you to — a low heart rate or atrial fibrillation. Apple says it received Food and Drug Administration clearance for the ECG function (also known as an EKG function), the first time that’s been granted to a mainstream direct-to-consumer device.
There are also a few other tweaks to the hardware that don’t affect the device’s battery life, which Apple says is 18 hours. The speaker is louder, and the crown on the side of the Watch has haptic feedback that jiggles a little when you touch it. The antennas on the cellular-connected model have been moved to improve reception, a problem with previous generations.
1:11 p.m. Tim Cook opens the event
Apple chief executive Tim Cook is onstage to kick off the day’s presentation and give his usual update on how Apple’s business is doing, revealing that Apple is about to hit a new milestone.
“We are about to ship our 2 billionth iOS device,” Cook tells the audience at the Steve Jobs theater.
Cook said today’s event will outline how the company is trying to make devices even more personal.
12:58 p.m. The thing about surprises
We’re not really expecting many surprises today. That’s not just because of the extraordinary number of leaks this year about the specs — and even the names — of Apple’s new products. These product launch events have lost much of their wow factor after a decade. Smartphones are more important in our lives than ever, but slight annual iterations, like better cameras and bigger screens, are now expected. It’s one reason Americans are holding on to their phones longer before upgrading.
Not that there isn’t hope for the future. In a longer time frame, we might see phones with foldable screens, spider-like arrays of cameras and charging over thin air. Just not this year.
12:09 p.m. Steve Jobs Theater and the “spaceship”
Media from around the globe are starting to filter up to the Steve Jobs Theater, which gives event attendees a clear view of Apple’s main “spaceship” headquarters building. Guests will wait here until just before the presentation starts at 1 p.m. Eastern time — giving everyone plenty of time to talk about what’s expected today and what it means for Apple.
There’s no doubt that Apple has had a financially successful year, becoming the first publicly traded U.S. company to hit a trillion-dollar valuation. But it has had to adjust its strategy to keep its revenue and profit growing. Fewer people are rushing out to snap up new premium smartphones each year, opting instead to hold on to their phones longer. That has slowed down growth for many smartphones, including the iPhone. To compensate for selling fewer new phones each year, Apple has been releasing new phones with higher price tags — most notably last year’s $1,000 iPhone X, which will probably see its line expanded Wednesday.
The company has also been putting more investment into its software and services, such as the App Store and a growing entertainment streaming business. Chief executive Tim Cook has said he wants to double the revenue of its services business by 2020. In its last earnings report in July, the services business reported $9.5 billion in revenue; annually, the services business itself would be a Fortune 100 company, Apple said.
12:04 p.m. What to expect
Apple is expected to release three models of the iPhone, based on analyst reports, and all at pocket-stretching sizes.
An apparent leak on Apple’s website, unearthed by tech site All Things How, seemed to confirm the new phones will be called the iPhone XS, XS Max and XR.
Analysts expect a new version of the iPhone X, with the same 5.8-inch screen that Apple first released last year. The iPhone XS Max, according reports from 9 to 5 Mac and Bloomberg, is expected to have a 6.5-inch screen and a hefty price tag.
Analysts are also expecting a slightly cheaper 6.1-inch iPhone X model, which, as first reported by Bloomberg, will be called the “iPhone XR”. The phone may have and LCD screen rather than an OLED screen, and could cost between $699 and $749, according to the analysis firm TrendForce.