Get ready for some major upgrades 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 update (aside from fast ProMotion screens and Cinema Mode on the Pro models), the latest rumors suggest the iPhone 14 will be a considerable step forward. The iPhone 14 Pro may finally lose its notch! We could actually get higher resolution cameras! We’re also eager to see what, exactly, Apple means with its cryptic invite and star-laden imagery. Even if you’re not looking to upgrade, half the fun of these launch events is predicting what Apple has up its sleeves. So let’s speculate!
iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro
Once again, we’re expecting to see four iPhone models, but the line-up will likely look different than the last few years. Not too long after the iPhone 13 hit stores, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reported that the iPhone 14 would be a “complete redesign,” which would mark the first major revision since the iPhone X landed in 2017. Additionally, Apple may be giving up on the iPhone Mini, a phone we’ve always wanted to love, but the short battery life has been a sticking point. Instead, Apple will reportedly unveil a 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Max or Plus, which will likely just have the same hardware as the standard iPhone 14.
While that’s unfortunate news for fans of tiny devices, the trend among most consumers is towards larger screens. Apple can’t let Samsung have all the fun, after all. Similarly, Apple could be taking a cue from the Galaxy phone maker (and practically every other Android phone company) by introducing pin-hole front cameras on the iPhone 14 Pro models. While early leaks pointed to two separate cut-outs — a circular one for the camera alongside a pill-shaped hole for the FaceID sensor — MacRumors claims (with support from Gurman) they’ll show up as a single pill-shaped cut out unified by software. (See image above.) Additionally, 9to5Mac reports that Apple is using the space in the middle of the cut-out for its privacy notification dots, which appear when an app is using your camera or microphone. On existing iPhones, those dots are shoved above the cellular reception bars.
Apple appears to be saving most of its big updates for the Pro iPhones. For one, they could have always-on screens, 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 far more customization than before.
More controversially, though, is a report claiming that only the Pro models will receive Apple’s new A16 Bionic chip. The standard iPhone 14 models may stick with last year’s A15 (which is still plenty powerful). As a cost-saving measure, that makes sense, especially chips and other components still in short supply. But it marks the first time Apple has introduced a major performance gulf between its iPhone models. (It’s particularly surprising since Apple was also able to squeeze the A15 chip into the tiny iPhone 13 Mini.) Most consumers won’t know the difference, but having a more powerful chip would clearly be a big draw for Pro models.
Typically, Apple has used its camera technology as the big differentiator between the standard and Pro iPhones. That doesn’t appear to be changing. In addition to all of the upgrades above. According to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple is planning to bump the Pro’s wide camera to 48-megapixels, a huge leap from the 12MP cameras the company has relied on for years. More recently, Kuo also claimed that the iPhone 14 Pro ultra-wide sensors will feature larger pixels with better low-light sensitivity. As for the base iPhone 14, it’s expected to get the six-element ultra-side camera from the iPhone 13 Pro.
And what are we to make of the “Far Out” text on Apple’s event invite? The ever-busy Kuo recently noted that Apple has completed testing on satellite connectivity for the iPhone 14, something that was also rumored to arrive ahead of the iPhone 13’s launch. Even though the hardware may be in place, Apple is reportedly still working on partner deals to unlock that connectivity. And while the idea of satellite support seemed wild last year, it makes more sense now that we’ve seen T-Mobile and SpaceX team up to offer emergency satellite support via StarLink. (Good news for iPhone 13 owners: Kuo claims those phones also have satellite hardware built-in.) Don’t expect to be FaceTiming via satellite, though, as the limited bandwidth will only leave room for short text messages and voice calls.
Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch Pro
Much like the iPhone, all eyes will likely be on a “Pro” Apple Watch next week. Bloomberg’s Gurman reported in July that the new model could sport a larger 2-inch screen, more durable titanium case and battery life for up to two days, thanks to a new “low power” mode. If all that ends up being true, the Apple Watch Pro would also be significantly larger than the current Series 7 model. Given all of its new hardware, Gurman claims it’ll be the biggest redesign of the Apple Watch since the Series 4 landed in 2017. Don’t get your hopes up for a round design, though, it sounds like Apple is just evolving its current rectangular style.
The Apple Watch Pro is also rumored to include the new temperature sensor that’s rumored for the Watch Series 8. It could potentially alert you if you’re running a fever, and suggest that 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 could have an improved display.
AirPods Pro 2
Given that we’re nearing three years since the launch of the AirPods Pro, it’s high time Apple followed up with a sequel. Gurman last year initially claimed the AirPods Pro 2 could have a stem-less design, much like Google’s Pixel Buds, but a more recent report from MacRumors suggests that the AirPods Pro 2 won’t look much different than before. Instead, leaked renders point to a new case with speaker holes (which would help with alerts for the “Find My” app) and a slot for a strap. The latter would be an anomaly for Apple, but it could be useful for attaching an AirTag. (Better yet, just build that into the case Apple!)
As for sound quality, Kuo claimed earlier this year that the AirPods Pro 2 could include support for Apple’s Lossless Audio (ALAC), which could be a draw for audiophiles. (Let’s not get into the viability of actually hearing any differences on small earbuds, though.) Additionally, the new headphones may include an updated H1 chip, as well as driver 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 or body temperature sensors as earlier rumors suggested.
Apple typically 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-generation iPad is expected to include a USB-C port, bringing it in line with the rest of the family, and it could get a speed bump with the A14 Bionic chip. Don’t expect any major design changes, though, as the entry-level iPad doesn’t get much love from Apple these days. So be prepared to see thick bezels and a home button, once again. But on the plus side, it may finally get 5G support as well as a revamped front-facing camera, according to 9to5Mac.
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