What we expect from September 10 iPhone event
When Apple CEO Tim Cook takes the stage at the company’s Cupertino, Calif. headquarters on Tuesday, he’ll likely do something Apple has never done before: release two iPhones at once.
Here’s what to expect on Tuesday:
The iPhone 5S is an upgrade and not an entirely new phone. In addition to a selection of new metallic finishes, it should have a faster processor, and we expect Apple to spend a lot of time talking about the new features and capabilities it’ll support.
Chief among them may be the new fingerprint scanner. This rather significant security upgrade could live next to or under the home button. Biometric security of this sort usually works best when it’s coupled with a CPU-level security platform. On PCs, that’s known as a Trusted Platform Management, which cryptographically stores keys associated with, for instance, fingerprint scanners. In other words, expect Apple to get a bit into the guts of just how secure this phone really is in the presentation — an acknowledgement of the iPhone’s growing stature in the enterprise.
We expect some speed improvements, centered around an Apple-designed A7 system-on-a-chip. It's also possible Apple will boost the new iPhone's RAM, from the 1 GB found in the iPhone 5.
The new iPhone 5S will also have some new photography chops. In addition to a bigger sensor (13 megapixels is a possibility), it’s likely to have a new dual-LED flash. If, as some reports have suggested, it has two different colors, that could help improve photo color accuracy.
The iPhone 5C (which people are saying stands for China or Color) will be Apple’s first, official budget iPhone. Reports suggest a $99 subsidized price and roughly $350 if bought off contract. It should have multiple colors and a plastic body. It’s also likely that the iPhone 5C’s internal components will be a near match for what’s found in the current iPhone 5, especially since no one expects Apple to shrink the iPhone 5C back to iPhone 4S dimensions.
The bigger news, though, will be why Apple is doing this. Most consider the 5C a product designed specifically for the Chinese market. Developing nations present a huge opportunity for every mobile company, but without subsidies and a far less strict environment for piracy and knockoffs, some have had some trouble breaking through or maintaining momentum in markets like China.
A more affordable iPhone and a reported deal with China’s biggest telco could revitalize Apple in this vast market. And in case you don’t think this phone is about the Chinese, Apple has made its intentions clear by, for the first time, holding a special launch event in the country, a few hours after the U.S. edition concludes.
Senior Technology Analyst Christina Warren has been studying the iOS 7 update for weeks and noticed that it includes some features for an updated version of Apple TV. No, not the long-rumored Apple HDTV set. Instead, we’re talking about the little black box that has gone from “hobby” to a multi-million-unit-selling success.
Not much is known about the anticipated Apple TV changes. Warren tells us that there will be some interface differences, ones that will pull Apple TV in line with iOS 7’s new, more austere look. The hardware design hasn’t changed much in two years; so we might see an update there, as well. Perhaps they’ll follow Google’s Chromecast lead and make it dongle-sized, though that is unlikely.
iOS 7 and iTunes Radio
Thanks to WWDC and multiple interim betas, we already know plenty about iOS 7, except for the exact delivery date. Since the mobile OS ships with all the new phones, Apple should also announce update availability.
We also expect some focus on Apple’s new music-streaming service iTunes Radio, which will ship as a part of iOS 7. Expect details on advertiser partners and maybe a musical act or two to show the music industry’s support for the new service.
It's almost easy to forget that Apple's September event used to be focused on iPods. We suppose there's some chance we'll see an updated MP3 player or two, but the more likely scenario is a new iPod touch. If it follows the patterns of previous years, it will have a lot in common with the current iPhone, but will sport slightly downgraded specs (and, of course, no cellular connectivity).
But with the iPhone 5C set to launch at a price that's pretty close to that of the iPod touch, it will be interesting to see how Apple handles this. Will the touch get a price drop? Will it remain unchanged from last year's model? Our money is on a touch that looks like last year's model, only with slightly upgraded internals.
Apple updated the Airport Extreme to the zippier 802.11ac Wi-Fi spec earlier this year and most Apple watchers expect them to do the same with the AirPort Express (the iPhone 5S will likely support the new standard as well). It should be no more than a brief mention.
Drawl, Charm and Schiller
While Tim Cook will, no doubt, open the event with his trademark drawl, it’s probably Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller who will command the most stage time and likely show off most, if not all, of the new hardware. Design head Jony Ive will be in attendance, but not on stage. He prefers the big screen and we expect at least one highly produced video where he explains — yet again — the Apple design and engineering magic.
Can Apple rediscover that, and throw us for a curve? Will Tim Cook roll up his sleeve to reveal the iWatch? Will Phil Schiller pull back the curtain on the iTV? Again, unlikely on both counts. But if it did, that might be just what the doctor ordered to restore that Apple "magic" that has faded a bit during the Tim Cook regime.
Apple could also reveal a MacBook Pro update, though that could seem out of place in the mostly-mobile event. It’s more likely Tim Cook will officially bury the iPod Classic and, just maybe, reveal a hardware update to the mostly overlooked iPod Nano (don’t they change the design every six months?).
Wild cards for this event include an Apple iWatch and a real Apple HD Television set (maybe a 4K display!). Though industry watchers are itchy for Apple to enter a new product category with either one of these devices (or something completely different), it's extremely unlikely either will make an appearance.
As always, there are still many unanswered questions (though not as many as there were before Apple’s vaunted secrecy sprung as many leaks as a Snowden NSA memo). The good news is we only have hours to wait before we know at least part of why Tim Cook promised us a very busy fall.
What you are expecting from September 10, 2013 iPhone event, let us know through your comment below.
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