Get ready for some major updates to the iPhone and Apple Watch lineup at Apple’s “Far Out” event next week. While last year’s iPhone 13 was a mostly marginal upgrade (apart from fast ProMotion displays and Cinema Mode on Pro models), the latest rumors suggest the iPhone 14 will be a considerable step forward. The iPhone 14 Pro may finally lose its notch! In fact, we could get higher resolution cameras! We’re also eager to see what exactly Apple means by its cryptic invitation and star-laden images. Even if you’re not looking to upgrade, half the fun of these launch events is predicting what Apple has up its sleeve. So let’s speculate!
iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro
Once again, we’re expecting to see four iPhone models, but the lineup is likely to look different than it has in recent years. Not long after the iPhone 13 hit stores, by Bloomberg Mark Gurman reported that the iPhone 14 would be a “complete redesign,” marking the first major overhaul since the iPhone X landed in 2017. Also, Apple could give up on the iPhone Mini, a phone we’ve always wanted to love, but the short-lived battery life has been a sticking point. Instead, Apple will reportedly introduce a 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Max or Plus, which will likely have the same hardware as the standard iPhone 14.
While that’s unfortunate news for fans of small devices, the trend among most consumers is toward larger screens. After all, Apple can’t let Samsung get all the fun. Similarly, Apple could follow the lead of phone maker Galaxy (and pretty much every other Android phone company) by introducing pinhole front-facing cameras on iPhone 14 Pro models. While early leaks pointed to two separate cutouts, a circular one for the camera along with a pill-shaped hole for the FaceID sensor, MacRumors claims (with Gurman’s support) will appear as a single pill-shaped cutout unified by software. (See the image above). Also, 9to5Mac Reports that Apple is using the space in the middle of the cutout for its privacy notification dots, which appear when an app is using your camera or microphone. On existing iPhones, those dots sit above the cellular reception bars.
Apple appears to be saving most of its big upgrades for the iPhone Pros. For one thing, they could have always-on displays, according to 9to5Mac. That could work well with the revamped lock screens we’ve seen in iOS 16, which now have room for widgets and a lot more customization than before.
More controversial, however, is a report that claims that only Pro models will receive Apple’s new A16 Bionic chip. Standard iPhone 14 models can stick with last year’s A15 (which is still pretty powerful). As a cost-saving measure, that makes sense, especially chips and other components that are still in short supply. But it’s the first time Apple has introduced a big performance gap between its iPhone models. (This is particularly surprising since Apple was also able to fit the A15 chip into the tiny iPhone 13 Mini.) Most consumers won’t notice the difference, but having a more powerful chip would clearly be a big draw for the Pro models.
Apple has traditionally used its camera technology as the big differentiator between standard and Pro iPhones. That doesn’t seem to be changing. In addition to all previous updates. According to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple plans to boost the Pro’s wide-angle camera to 48-megapixels, a big jump from the 12-megapixel cameras the company has relied on for years. More recently, Kuo also claimed that the iPhone 14 Pro’s ultra-wide sensors will feature larger pixels with better low-light sensitivity. As for the base iPhone 14, it is expected to get the six-element ultra-side camera from the iPhone 13 Pro.
And what are we going to do with the “Far Out” text in the invitation to the Apple event? the the always busy Kuo recently pointed out that Apple has completed satellite connectivity testing for the iPhone 14, something that was also rumored to be coming before the iPhone 13 release. Although the hardware may be in place, Apple is reportedly still working on deals with partners to unlock that connectivity. And while the idea of satellite support seemed far-fetched last year, it makes more sense now that we’ve seen T-Mobile and SpaceX team up to offer emergency satellite support through StarLink. (Good news for iPhone 13 owners: Kuo says those phones also have satellite hardware built in.)
Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch Pro
Like the iPhone, all eyes are likely to be on an Apple Watch “Pro” next week. Bloomberg’s Gurman reported in July that the new model could sport a larger 2-inch screen, a more durable titanium case and up to two days of battery life, thanks to a new “low power” mode. If all of that turns out to be true, the Apple Watch Pro would also be significantly larger than the current Series 7 model. Given all its new hardware, Gurman claims it will be the biggest Apple Watch redesign since the Series 4 landed in 2017. Don’t get your hopes up about a round design though, it looks like Apple is just evolving its current rectangular style.
The Apple Watch Pro is also rumored to include the new temperature sensor rumored for the Watch Series 8. It could alert you if you have a fever and suggest you see a doctor or use a dedicated thermometer for a more accurate reading. It could also be a useful resource for period and fertility tracking apps. Design-wise, the Series 8 isn’t expected to change much from last year’s models. It may end up running the same dual-core S7 chip as the Series 7, though some higher-end models might get an upgraded screen.
AirPods Pro 2
As we approach three years since the AirPods Pro launched, it’s about time Apple followed up with a sequel. Last year, Gurman initially claimed that the AirPods Pro 2 could have a stemless design, much like Google’s Pixel Buds, but a more recent report from MacRumors suggests that the AirPods Pro 2 will not look much different from the previous ones. Instead, the leaked renders point to a new case with speaker holes (which would help with “Find My” app alerts) and a slot for a strap. The latter would be an anomaly for Apple, but could be useful for placing an AirTag. (Better yet, incorporate that into the Apple shell!)
As for sound quality, Kuo claimed earlier this year that AirPods Pro 2 could include support for Apple’s Lossless Audio (ALAC), which could be a draw for audiophiles. (However, let’s not go into the feasibility of hearing differences in small headphones.) Additionally, the new earbuds may include an updated H1 chip, as well as controller improvements similar to the AirPods 3. But don’t hold your breath for any health-tracking features, as Gurman recently noted that they won’t include heart-rate sensors. or body temperature as earlier rumors suggested.
Apple usually saves its biggest iPad news for its second fall event, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see some news about its entry-level model next week. The 10th-gen iPad is expected to include a USB-C port, bringing it in line with the rest of the family, and could get a speed boost with the A14 Bionic chip. Don’t expect major design changes though, as the entry-level iPad doesn’t get much love from Apple these days. So get ready to see thick bezels and a home button once again. But on the bright side, you can finally get 5G support, as well as a revamped front-facing camera, according to 9to5Mac.
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