Apple in 2016:

iPhone 7 and Apple Watch 2

Apple prepares for the future of the iPhone and the entire Apple lineup.

The invitation for Apple’s September 7th event.

Apple will hold an event on September 7 at the Bill Graham Civic Center in San Francisco. The event will showcase a number of updates to Apple’s lineup, including major updates to the iPhone lineup. The event is Apple’s first major product launch since March when the company unveiled the 9.7–inch iPad Pro and the iPhone SE.

The event comes as Apple’s Q3 2016 earnings were the first to see a decline year-over-year in iPhone sales. The iPhone 6s, which launched in September of last year, was unable to stay on track with the major success of the iPhone 6. While the iPhone SE helped alleviate these issues, the company hopes a new iPhone, alongside a number of significant product launches this fall, will reignite growth.

While the main focus of this event will be Apple’s new iPhone 7, the company is expected to announce other updates as well, including a second generation Apple Watch and an updated line of audio products.

Here’s everything you should expect:

iPhone

Apple is set to unveil its next-generation iPhone, the iPhone 7, at its September event. The new iPhone will be the ninth major release in the iPhone lineup since the original iPhone in 2007.

While Apple is preparing a major overhaul of the entire iPhone lineup for 2017, possibly to celebrate the devices tenth anniversary, this year’s iPhone update appears to be amongst the smallest since the device’s inception, with original reports indicating little change and the removal of standards like the 3.5mm headphone jack.

While some may question how such small updates could justify the bump from 6 to 7, Apple may have one or two surprises that haven’t been found by the rumor mill.

Models

Earlier on in the rumor cycle, reports began circling that Apple was preparing three new iPhone models: the iPhone 7, the iPhone 7 Plus, and the iPhone 7 Pro. One of the main sources of these rumors was the emergence of two plus-sized iPhones, one with a smart connector, the proprietary port found on the bottom of the iPad Pro, and one without.

Apple is planning on introducing only two iPhone models at this event: the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.

It appears Apple had, for a brief period, decided to throw a smart connector on the iPhone 7 Plus for a new smart case(s?), but later decided to remove the addition. At no point was Apple working on three separate iPhone 7 models.

While we won’t see an addition to the standard iPhone lineup, the configurations of the lineup are finally changing. Apple will bump the storage across the entire iPhone lineup with the iPhone 7, moving the 16GB models up to 32GB, the 64GB models up to 128GB, and the 128GB models to a new 256GB capacity. Notably, these are the same configurations as the iPad Pro lineup, the only iPad lineup in active development, meaning Apple will have the same storage options across the iPhone and iPad board, simplifying production.

Apple’s iPhone SE currently ships with 16GB and 64GB of storage, and it is unclear if Apple will bump the storage of the entry-level device to match the rest of the lineup now, or wait until a second-generation model sometime in 2017.

Design

Apple’s iPhone 7 and 7 Plus will have a remarkably similar design to the outgoing iPhone 6 lineup, something Apple has yet to do in a lineup refresh.

While the design is extremely similar, there are three key design changes to the new devices:

First, the antenna bands have been reworked to go around the sides of the device, un-obstructing the back. On the current iPhone 6 lineup, the plastic lines run through the top and bottom, creating rounded half rectangles on the device. This new design creates the appearance of an all-metal back and looks nicer than the old lines.

Second, both the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus will receive new camera bumps, both drastically different from the previous bump, but we’ll get back to that later.

Third, the iPhone 7 will not have the standard 3.5mm headphone jack, found on every iPhone since the iPhone 3G. Apple’s reasoning and replacements are discussed later on, but users will be required to either use lightning headphones, an adaptor, or some form of wireless headphone.

Apple will introduce two new colors into the iPhone lineup with the iPhone 7. While the regular Rose Gold, Gold, and Silver will remain, Apple will introduce a new Space Grey color in-line with the color found on other Space Grey Apple devices, which is notably darker. Additionally, Apple seems set to introduce a new fifth ‘Piano Black’ color, which will be completely black gloss finish.

Internals

While Apple’s new iPhones will feature a new A10 SOC, manufactured exclusively by TSMC, the general internals of the iPhone hardware is said to be staying the same.

The new A10s will clock at around 2.4GHz, significantly higher than the 1.85GHz iPhone 6s, making them the fastest Apple has ever shipped on a mobile device.

Apple will stick to the current 2GB of RAM found on the iPhone 6s with the iPhone 7, and will also stick with the same TouchID and 3D Touch systems as the previous models. The iPhone 7 Plus will however receive a notable bump from 2GB to 3GB of RAM, possibly to accommodate new camera hardware.

The iPhone 7 will feature improved battery life, a highly requested feature from users. Following leaks, the iPhone 7’s battery life appears to be 14 percent larger than that of the iPhone 6s. Coupled with battery management improvements likely to be found on the A10, battery life will likely be a selling point of the new phones.

Hardware

While the technical specifications of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus won’t change much from previous models, there are two notable hardware changes coming to the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.

The home button found on every iOS device since the launch of the iPhone, will no longer be a button. Apple will introduce a new, force touch button to replace the physical button, meaning clicking the button will give the sensation of a real button, but in reality, the device will just make vibrations and noises.

This is likely in preparation for major design changes coming to the iPhone next year, Apple may be preparing to eliminate the button as a whole, and giving users and developers a year with a semi-button will help them transition if major changes arrive.

Apple is also planning major changes to the screen in the 2017 iPhone. While it isn’t clear exactly what these changes are yet, improvements like the transition to AMOLED displays will have to wait just a bit longer.

The iPhone 7 will still, however, include some major updates to the display. Apple is said to have included the same display technologies found in the iPad Pro 9.7-inch in the next iPhone. The most notable of these technologies are a wider color gamut and the True Tone display, which changes the color temperatures of the screen based on the lighting around you.

Lastly, the iPhone 7 will feature IPV7 waterproofing, on-par with the Apple Watch. This means minor accidental water damage should no longer effect the device. The company is said to be planning complete waterproofing on their upcoming 2017 iPhone.

iOS 10

The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus will ship alongside Apple’s newest iOS update, iOS 10. The update is the largest in a number of years, bringing a heavy emphasis on widgets, adding developer integration to core services like Siri and Messages, and more.

Apple seems set to launch the iOS 10 update for all supported devices on September 14, noticeably earlier than the rumored date of September 30.

Camera

Throughout the past two years, we’ve reported on multiple occasions that Apple was preparing a drastically improved, dual-lens camera for the iPhone. This new, industry-shaking camera is ready, and will make its debut on the iPhone 7 Plus.

While we still aren’t entirely sure how the new system will work, the iPhone 7 Plus does indeed house the new system, stored in a new, huge camera lens on the back of the device.

Following a number of acquisitions, it appears the system may be aimed at bringing the picture quality closer to that of a DSLR camera. The new camera will include a new 2–3x zoom, and will be capable of capturing a larger array of colors, resulting in brighter, more accurate photos.

Following conformation from other reports, we can now confirm that both lenses on the iPhone 7 Plus will feature 12 megapixel lenses. These lenses will be used to create a greater zoom area, while also incorporating a feature similar to the Lytro camera, allowing users to refocus pictures after capturing.

While the regular iPhone 7 will not be receiving the new camera system, it will get an upgraded camera. The camera bump on the back of the iPhone 7 is significantly larger than the iPhone 6s camera module. This could allow for sharper, more accurate photos. Additionally, the iPhone 7 will feature Optical Image Stabilization, a feature previously only available on the iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 6s Plus.

Audio

What is, and what will likely remain, the biggest story surrounding the iPhone 7 is the removal of the industry-standard 3.5mm headphone jack. The standard, which is over 105 years old, has been found on most modern Apple devices, and the removal of the port seems sudden and odd.

Likely the main reason it seems so strange is because there is no clear replacement in line for the headphone jack. Despite what you may have been told, the Lightning port isn’t capable of transmitting audio at a higher quality that would be discernible to most users. Wireless headphone are certainly becoming more common, but are not yet on par with the quality of wired headphones, and quality wireless earbuds are still a rarity.

Apple is well known for being the first to remove common standards from devices, such as the floppy drive on the iMac and the regular USB port on the MacBook. However, all of these removals came with clear replacements in line; CDs were clearly better than floppy disks, and USB-C is likely the most versatile standard ever created.

While we could try and guess Apple’s logic now, things will likely be clearer come the event. Apple isn’t going to remove the headphone jack and act like nothing happened.

As of now, there are two possible reasons why Apple could be removing the headphone jack that I can think of:

First, Apple likes simple things and removing the headphone jack removes half the ports on the iPhone. Apple is betting that the users who need the more complex port will go out and use adaptors for the beauty of the device, in the same vein that people use mega-adaptors with the MacBook, while most users won’t need to use an adaptor.

The second, Apple has a new replacement in line that we don’t know about.

Regardless if none, one, or both of these theories are correct, here’s what we know is going to happen:

Apple will ship the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus with a pair of Lightning EarPods. These are exactly the same as the ones you currently have, just with a lightning port at the end instead of a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Apple will ship standard a lightning to 3.5mm headphone converter. While the company originally planned to ship the converter separately, it appears public criticism of the decision was enough for Apple to backpeddle, creating a way for users to use the older headphones out of the box.

Apple is working on and will likely release a pair of wireless EarPods, possibly titled AirPods. The earbuds will be sold separately, likely in the $100 range.

Lastly, Apple is working on a complete refresh of the Beats headphone lineup that they acquired in 2014. This will be the first time the company will refresh the lineup since the acquisition, and will likely include new designs and price points. It is unclear if the lineup will launch alongside the iPhone updates, but it seems fitting to launch new wireless Beats alongside the removal of the headphone jack.

Availability

Although the generally accurate Evan Blass reported that the new iPhones will launch on September 16, it appears Apple is actually targeting a September 23 launch day.

While the new iPhones will start at the same price points as previous models, remember that the storage will now be doubled across the board.

Apple Watch

Apple will launch its second-generation Apple Watch this fall, with an announcement set to occur alongside the iPhone 7.

Apple released the Apple Watch in 2015 to a lukewarm response. While many were happy with the design and interchangeable band system, many criticized the software, the price, and the confusing input metaphors found throughout the device.

While Apple looked to have been planning a second generation launch at some point earlier this year, the company chose to spend more time refining the wearable over sticking to the companies now standard yearly release cycle.

Apple now has a set vision for the device, which it will discuss at the launch, and also has a clear goal to untether the device from the iPhone.

Design

The second generation Apple Watch will feature an almost identical design to the current models. This mean all accessories and bands will continue to be interchangeable, and a customer could keep all the bands they’ve acquired through the devices lifetime and use them with the new model.

While the basic layout and hardware specifications of the device will remain the same, Apple has been working on a number of new finishes, bands, and lineups for the Apple Watch brand.

Models

The Apple Watch Edition, which features 18-karat gold and starts at $10,000, has not done as well as Apple had hoped internally. While the company, of course, didn’t expect millions of people to spend that money on an Apple Watch, they expected a small subset of users to go for the luxury of gold, which appears to have not gone as well as planned.

While it is unclear if Apple will completely remove the Apple Watch Edition lineup with the launch of a second generation model, the company has pulled back on marketing the device since the first-gen launch.

Apple hopes to launch new luxury finishes in between the stainless steel Apple Watch line and 18-karat gold Edition line that will appeal to luxury and big money spenders, while also having a more reasonable price tag, alongside the Apple Watch 2 and future updates.

Both the Apple Watch Sport and Apple Watch lineups will be updated with second generation models. The devices will stay at the same price points and deviations as the current Watch, with the exception of band additions.

Apple is expected, however, to keep the current generation Apple Watch Sport around at a lower price point, a similar strategy to the one used with last generation iPhones and iPads. By keeping the older, and noticeably cheaper to produce, model around, Apple could begin offering users access to the Watch at under $200.

Internals

While the general design of the next generation Apple Watch will remain the same, the device will have several significant technical additions.

The new Apple Watch will ship with Apple’s second-generation S processor, the Apple S2. The S1, found on the original Apple Watch, features 512MB of RAM and 8GB of storage, and performance is on-par with the Apple A5. The new S2 will receive a number of speed improvements, possibly including a RAM bump. The performance is said to be on-par with Apple’s A8, the processor found on the iPhone 6 and Apple TV.

The battery on the next generation Apple Watch will be improved over the first generation model. At least one model is said to include an improved battery life of over 35%, which may be necessary to power some of the new features, but will likely also result in improved day-to-day battery life.

The Apple Watch already features an AMOLED display, something the iPhone has yet to receive, but the device’s display still has some updates coming with the new generation. The next generation model will feature a laminated display, significantly closing the gap between the glass and the display, and creating a more vivid and clear picture.

With a new heavy emphasis on Health, Apple is planning on adding a number of new health sensors to future Apple Watch models, including blood pressure and hydration sensors. While it is unclear what will and what will not make this second-generation model, Apple appears to be ready to introduce proper sleep tracking to the next generation device.

Apple is planning on adding GPS technology to the next generation Apple Watch. This will allow the device to more accurately track things like exercise and activity, allow users to use Find my Apple Watch without a phone nearby, and also be able to give more accurate directions. The move is a significant step towards decoupling the device from the iPhone. A user will be able to leave their phone at home, go for a run while listening to downloaded music via Bluetooth headphones, while also having directions, and never have to be connected to the internet or their iPhone.

While Apple is planning on adding cellular connectivity to the Apple Watch, a feature that may allow the device to be completely separate from the iPhone, the company will not be adding the feature in the second generation model. While carriers are being actively updated on the plans, Apple never had a reasonable outlook to get cellular on the watch by the end of this year.

While the watch will have features like GPS, users will still have to have a compatible iPhone to set up and manage an Apple Watch.

Lastly, Apple will introduce a front facing FaceTime camera to the next generation Apple Watch. Users will be able to send and receive video calls from their watch, and also use the camera for features like selfies.

Developers will have full access to both the GPS and camera, opening the door for new types of apps to hit the wearable.

watchOS 3

watchOS 3, the latest update to the Apple Watch operating system, significantly improves the speed and stability of the Apple Watch. Apps open significantly faster than before, and the software has significantly fewer hiccups.

Additionally, watchOS 3 attempts to fix many of the confusing or repetitive metaphors that were introduced with the Apple Watch. Very often, users have the option to scroll with their finger, or use the Digital Crown, and it is unclear why both are available.

The side button, which previously gave quick access to Apple Pay and gave a list of friends to message, has changed its functions completely. Clicking it now brings up the Dock, allowing users to quickly open their most used apps, holding it down brings up the standard power options along with the new SOS feature, and double tapping brings up Apple Pay as usual. Users and Developers who have been using the new software say the side button is now an integral part of the watch experience.

watchOS 3 will ship standard on the next generation Apple Watch, but will also be released for current Apple Watch owners on September 14, alongside iOS 10.

Branding and Message

One of the main criticisms of the original Apple Watch was the message behind the device or lack thereof.

Following the Apple Watch unveiling in 2014, many criticized Apple CEO Tim Cook’s presentation of the new device, calling it confusing without a clear path.

I’ve personally been asked while wearing an Apple Watch questions like “What does it do” and “Why should I buy one”, things that should be clear to potential consumer when buying an Apple device, or any device for that matter.

The original Apple Watch was trying to be too many things, it had a large focus on communication with a large focus on fitness with a large focus on timekeeping, without a clear explanation of why you needed one.

Alongside the new model, Apple will attempt to clarify the reasoning and marketing behind the Apple Watch. The gist of the new marketing will fall in line with something Apple has been saying from the beginning: “The Apple Watch is the most personal device we’ve ever made”.

The Apple Watch will focus on being about you. Its primary job is to be there for you and give you information about yourself. Health will become the prime focus point of the watch, with the addition of new sensors and features, meaning the Apple Watch will help you get healthy and help you stay healthy.

While Apple’s other devices help us create and connect with others, the Apple Watch will help us organize our own lives and stay connected to ourselves.

Availability

While Apple’s announcement of the second-generation wearable is imminent, the lack of supply chain leaks and schematics indicate a launch later this year.

Apple assuredly wants to release the device prior to the holiday season, so it is likely we may see a proper launch at a second Apple Event later this fall.

TV

Apple is planning on launching the next major tvOS update, tvOS 10, this fall. The update includes a number of new features, including Siri updates, additional live TV features, dark mode, and more.

One notable new feature called single sign-on, which will allow a user to sign into their cable account once via the Apple TV settings, and then automatically have access to all apps their subscription supports, may lead to delays in releasing the new operating system. While Apple had originally hoped to launch the updates OS at this event alongside iOS 10 and watchOS 3, it appears the company was still working out the feature as late as early August, and may not be ready to launch the update until later in the fall.

Mac

Apple is working on a number of major updates to the Mac lineup for this fall. The most notable addition will be the updated MacBook Pro, the first redesign to the device in over four years. Apple is also working on updated MacBook Airs featuring USB-C, new iMacs, and a new Thunderbolt Display.

Apple does not plan on showcasing these new devices at this event, and is currently aiming for an introduction in October.

iPad

Recent reports revealed Apple is working on a major restructuring of the iPad lineup, with new 9.7, 10.5, and 12.9-inch models, alongside the discontinuation of the 7.9-inch iPad mini. It appears these updates are part of a broader iOS restructuring set to take place alongside the 2017 iPhone next fall.

While the reworked iPads will not launch soon, Apple is preparing smaller updates to the iPad lineup, scheduled to launch early next year. The new devices will feature an updated A10X chip, bring the 9.7-inch iPad Pro display improvements to the larger 12.9-inch model, include greater support for the Apple Pencil, and also reintroduce a $500 model, possibly the last generation 9.7-inch iPad Pro.

The company is also working on major iPad specific software updates, set to launch throughout 2017.

Siri Speaker

Back in May, The Information reported Apple was preparing a new Siri home-companion device, similar to the Amazon Echo. The new device would be a full featured AirPlay and Bluetooth speaker, include full-features Siri, and be able to connect with the new 3rd-party Siri connections introduced in iOS 10.

While Apple hopes to launch the device this fall, it is possible the device could see a push to 2017.

UPDATE 09/01/2016: Current whispers are indicating a special surprise at the event… what could it be?

Event Info

Apple’s September 7th event will take place at the Bill Graham Civil Center in San Francisco at 10AM PDT and 1PM EST. The event will also be streamed over on Apple’s website here.

Be sure to stay tuned to MullingApple for more coverage and scoops regarding Apple, and make sure to stop by later this fall for even more info, as Apple likely prepares a second event.

Read the rest of the Apple in 2016 series: