Apple unveils new iPhones, watches, and features galore at big event!
Cupertino, California – Apple's first live launch event since the start of the pandemic saw a host of major new tech products being unveiled.
A new iPhone generation split across four models, a new set of AirPods Pro, and three new Apple Watches were among the highlights of the company's annual September event.
Plus, emergency messages by satellite and an always-on display are among the key features set to arrive with Apple's Pro version of the iPhone 14.
The iPhone is by far Apple's most important product. Sales of the device bring in about half of the company's revenue. In the first half of the year, iPhones accounted for about two-thirds of smartphones sold at a price of more than $600, as the analysis firm Canalys calculated. And the iPhone 13 was the best-selling smartphone model.
As the company moves into the iPhone 14 era, here's what Apple users need to know.
A new iPhone 14 with emergency SOS
Let's talk about those emergency messages by satellite and the always-on display.
The new phones allow the user to send an emergency message via satellite, a potentially life-saving feature in instances where there is no mobile phone reception.
The feature is also ground-breaking for smartphones, as until now, you needed a special phones with larger antennae for this to work. To make it possible, Apple has integrated an in-house system for connecting to satellites into the iPhone 14 Pro models.
However, the connection remains a technical challenge, as the company emphasized at the Apple launch event on Wednesday. For the feature to work, the iPhone must be pointed directly at the satellite, and the transmission can take several seconds or even several minutes.
Since the satellites are not visible to the naked eye, users will get help aligning the devices with a graphic on their screen.
The feature will initially only be available in the US and Canada and will be free for iPhone 14 buyers for the first two years.
Alongside the Pro and Pro Max version with bumped-up hardware specs, Apple has also announced the regular 14 and 14 Plus iPhones, which cost less but don't feature a zoom lens in the camera.
In a radical move, the US versions of the iPhone 14 will also not have a slot for a physical SIM card at all, instead relying entirely on a reprogrammable eSIM.
Always-on arrives on iPhones
In the more expensive Pro models of the iPhone 14, the display can now also stay on all the time. This creates new possibilities, for example, for applications on the home screen that display information in real time – such as live scores at sporting events.
While the always-on display had long been around on many Android phones with OLED screens, notably Samsung Galaxy devices, it has been a requested feature for Apple users in recent years.
On Pro iPhones, Apple has also reduced its notoriously large notch area, which made room for the selfie camera and FaceID sensor. Instead of the large cutout previously at the top of the phone's screen, there is now a smaller pill-shape.
There's also a 48-MP sensor in the new camera system, which is supposed to provide better pictures in difficult lighting conditions.
The cost of getting a new iPhone has risen across the board, and prices for the iPhone 14 Pro now start at $999 or €1,299, while the larger Pro Max is now at least $1,099 or €1,449. The basic model of the iPhone 14 costs $799 or €999.
AirPods Pro continues to rule
With the new AirPods Pro, Apple is updating the more expensive model of its wireless earbuds, launched in 2019 to much acclaim.
New features include what Apple says is twice the ambient noise cancellation and the ability to change the volume with swipe gestures on the earbuds.
Despite major competition, Apple has become the clear number one in the wireless earphone market, and its various AirPods models have become the default for iPhone owners.
Together with its own brand Beats, Apple sold 17.5 million devices in the last quarter alone, according to Canalys calculations, and achieved a market share of almost 28%.
This leaves rivals far behind, and Samsung, with its hi-fi subsidiary Harman and well-known brands such as JBL, is in second place with 5.8 million earphones and a good 9% market share.
Apple Watch Ultra has longer battery life
Alongside the new iPhones, Apple also unveiled a new Apple Watch Ultra, a high-end version of its smartwatch designed to run for 36 hours without charging thanks to a larger battery – and up to 60 hours with power-saving settings activated.
All versions of the watch have LTE built in by default. An additional large button is supposed to be easy to operate even with gloves on, which helps divers, for example. Apple also says the watch has a more robust design to prevent scratches and cracks during sports.
An update to the conventional Apple Watch, the new Series 8, is meanwhile adding two sensors that measure body temperature. New motion sensors can detect car accidents so the Watch can automatically alert emergency services.
Among other things, the Watch recognizes a frontal or side impact as well as a rollover. The Watch also evaluates ambient noise for this purpose.
Apple's watches with LTE will also support roaming for the first time. Until now, connectivity without a connected iPhone was limited to national borders.
Cover photo: REUTERS