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The stage is set, everybody comes in and when the time comes, Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple comes in and shouts “GOOD MORNING!!” And the crowd roars. Now the light pops up and the video starts. Yes, the lesson learned from the pandemic is it’s better to do the entire presentation in a pre-recorded video format than a live presentation.
As usual, September is the most important event for Apple because it’s when they reveal their cash cow product and this time is no different. They basically perfected the format and as usual, you can expect high production quality and new dazzling features from Apple “reality distortion field”, also known as marketing.
Here lies a product by product breakdown of what Apple has unveiled in their all-important September event.
Let’s get down to brass tacks: everybody is here for the iPhone 14 and Apple only put it in the end. We put it in front because that’s what everybody wants to know
In summary, the iPhone 14 is basically an iPhone 13 with iPhone 13 Pro guts with slightly upgraded internals and new colors. Here what’s important for the iPhone 14:-
A15 Bionic chip: One might think it’s controversial but Apple for the first time since the iPhone inception did not introduce a new chip for a new iPhone. Personally, I’m OK with this since the iPhone is targeted for the normal user and 99% of normal users, the A15 chip is more than enough to meet your daily needs and then some. I’m yet to meet anyone who is using the iPhone complains that the iPhone is “slow”
A15 Bionic that is used in the iPhone 14 is the higher 5-core GPU version that was exclusively used for the iPhone 13 Pro. There is no word about clock speed figures since Apple does not publish them.
eSim: US models will ditch the physical SIM card in favor of eSim. Apple has eSIM support since iPhone Xs. My thoughts on this move is the Apple wanted to push for eSIM adoption and to free up more real estate inside the iPhone for future features. International models will still have physical SIM card slot, but do expect this feature will disappear in 2-3 generations
New Size: Due to lack of sales, the Mini is ditched in favor of Plus. It is the same 6.7” size as the iPhone Pro Max of yesteryears.
Crash Detection: The iPhone 14 has a new gyroscope that can detect 100’s of G in acceleration. With this new sensor, the iPhone can detect that you are in a vehicle crash and will automatically launch a timer which will notify first responders and emergency contact.
Emergency SOS via Satellite: Perhaps the most interesting feature of the iPhone 14 is that in emergency situations, where you are in the middle of nowhere and there’s no WiFi or cellular service, you can send messages to emergency responders via satellite. Because the iPhone is limited to the internal antenna, you need to have a clear view of the sky and point to the satellite to be able to send messages. Apple greatly modified the UI to help in communication and sending the appropriate messages.
This is perhaps a huge engineering challenge because satellite signals are far weaker than cellular signals since cellular tower range is between 4-5 kilometers, while the satellite would be 400-500km in low earth orbit and 30,000+ km for geosynchronous orbit. A lot of legwork is done by Apple to make this system work and fit in a normal iPhone package.
This service is free for 2 years and only available in the USA and Canada. There is no word about pricing after the 2 years is up.
Action Mode: Just like in the older days of Steady Shot, video stabilization is still a big thing for cameras. Action Mode is designed to reduce (or in some cases eliminate) camera shake when you are taking videos on the move. I believe that it won’t be as good as having a dedicated gimbal, but quite useful if you want a causal shot.
More interesting features are going into the iPhone 14 Pro. According to analysts, this will be the way moving forward for Apple: Apple is going to put more differiantian features in the Pro models while having minimal / trickle down updates for the base model.
The main features of the iPhone 14 Pro models can be summarized into 3 things: the A16 chip, the new camera sensor, and digital Island.
A16 Bionic chip: The most powerful mobile chip yet. 6 compute cores, 5 graphic cores, display engine and Apple claims that it’s 40% more powerful than the nearest competitor. With a new 4nm manufacturing process, you can expect how it will trickle down to M3 chip
New camera module: Apple introduced a new camera sensor module which is bigger than the iPhone 13, which then was bigger than the iPhone 12. The camera module basically occupies half the width of the iPhone.
New main camera sensor: The vast improvement is in the main camera sensor. It is not only bigger, but has 4 times the sensor than the previous one. Although it is a 48 MP sensor (the last one is 12MP), the photo output by default will be 12MP. If you want the full 48MP picture experience, you need to enable Apple ProRAW in your camera settings.
The Baysersian pattern on the sensor is also different from what other manufacturers would typically approach this problem. Instead of making the bayesian pattern smaller, the original grouping is cut into half. This way, the same sensor can be used as a 2x telephoto.
New telephoto options: By the way of their unique pattern, Apple uses the corp of the main sensor to introduce a 2x telephoto picture. The telephoto sensor is now a 3x instead of 2.5x in the previous iPhone Pro 13 Max.
Digital Island: Apple designed the “notch” and turn it into a “punch hole” and renamed it Digital Island. In the truest Apple design fashion sense, the punch hole is not just a punch hole. It’s a functional punch hole where the shape of the punch hole changes size based on the notification or background app that is running. It works well because the display is an OLED where the black looks really black.
Apple updated the AirPods Pro and a slew of new features. Externally, it is basically the same design with minimal changes. Most of the changes are internal.
New Case: The charging case has been redesigned. It now has some speakers to help locate your AirPods Pro case, a hole so you can tie it to a lanyard and now supports MagSafe charging.
New H2 chip: In order to support new features, Apple introduced the new H2 chip in the new AirPods Pro.
New speakers and mics: The new drivers of the AirPods have been redesigned to be bigger and with more bass. The mic has also been redesigned to be more sensitive.
Active Transparency Mode: In transparency mode, the AirPods will playback the external sound into your ear. In Active Transparency, the AirPods will automatically tone down or silent any loud noises. In their example, if you are walking down the street and suddenly someone start a jackhammer, it will silence the jackhammer.
Volume Control: One of the gripes that I have with my AirPods Pro is there is no way to control the volume on the AirPods Pro without using an Apple Watch or iPhone. Apple addressed this issue by redesigning the tactile sensor on the stem of the AirPods. A slide up or down on the stem will increase or decrease volume on the AirPods Pro.
Apple introduced 3 new Watch models: the SE, the Series 8 and a brand new Ultra.
Apple finally dropped the Series 3 and replaced their low end offering with updated SE.
The Apple Watch SE is essentially a Series 4 in a cheaper package. Usually targeted for children, elderly or to prop up the sales of the series 8.
Design: Basically the same design as the series 4. All features are carry over from the series 7
Temperature sensor: The rumored temperature sensor has finally made its debut on the series 8, although not the way you think. Apparently, the wrist is not the ideal place to take body temperature. The watch has 2 sensors to measure the body and an ambient sensor.
New bands: A new year, and of course we get new bands from Apple, Nike and Hermes. Hermes is particularly nice as expected a luxury fashion house.
Apple Watch Ultra is a brand new product from Apple. As a famous Youtuber has concluded, Apple basically put all the olympians, athletics, extreme sport enthusiasts, adventurers, serial campers and divers in a single room and ask how can we make an Apple Watch for you and Apple Watch Ultra is the result.
New Body: The Apple Watch Ultra has the biggest case to date: a 48mm titanium case. It’s a lot chunkier than other Apple Watch. Think of if a Casio G-Shock and a Rolex Submariner has a baby, this would be the Apple Watch Ultra
Buttons: The Digital Crown and side button is larger than the normal Apple Watch, apparently designed to be used with gloves. There’s also an additional Action Button where you can customize what happens when you press that button. Developers can also incorporate functionality on that button.
Sensor: The sensor on the watch has been upgraded. There is a dual-band GPS receiver for a more accurate GPS reading. There’s more mics for better voice acquisitions. There’s also dual speakers on the watch for better sound.
Battery: The casing on the watch is much bigger than a normal Apple Watch. You can get up to 60 hours of battery life with the Apple Watch Ultra. With low-power mode, it can go far longer. In fact, it has been tested for people who go for Ultra marathons or Ironman competitions.
Dive computer and compass: The Apple Watch Ultra can go up to 100m (compared to 50m for the normal Apple Watch). Confusingly, Apple rated the Ultra for recreational diving at 40m. You can activate the dive computer to check and record your dive. Other than detecting how deep you are, the watch can also check the water temperature. The compass is also being redesigned for the Apple Watch Ultra.
Even with showing three main items, the Apple September show is still 90 minutes long, quite a lot to unpack there. However, there’s a few rumored items that didn’t make the cut.
iPhone subscription service: There are rumors about a program that will allow people to pay Apple a monthly rate and you will always be the latest and greatest from Apple. This idea isn’t new and has been done from cars to computers and actually phones. So it’s inevitable that Apple will introduce such a program. But alas, it didn’t make it.
Macs: This event is focused on the iPhone and its accessories, so it’s not on point to unveil a Mac in an iPhone event. I guess we have to wait for the October event for new Macs and iPads.
After the show and tell, Apple shows their hands and it is this: the iPhone is a mature and “perfect” product and we are going to do marginal updates year on year. All the latest and high-risk features will be on the Pro models where we will make a killing on margins.
This idea is supported by analyst Michio Kuoi where more product differentiation will be done on the Pro models while the base everyman model will have minimal but meaningful updates. Apple now expects the update rate will be on 2-3 years instead of every year and expect Pro models will have higher rates than that.
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