The Apple rumor mill is hell-bent on ruining the surprise for all of us.
Ahead of a September 9 event, many details about Apple’s next iPhone and Apple TV have leaked to highly reliable sources. That’s not to say the products themselves are boring, as Apple will likely show off a new way to interact with our phones, and make a huge leap forward for its living room set-top box. The only major question is whether or not we’ll see new iPads at this event as well.
It’ll still be up to Apple to explain why anyone would actually want these gadgets, of course. But for now, here are the nuts and bolts of what Apple will announce next week (we’ll keep updating this post until the event kicks off on the 9th).
Not happening this year, though the 4-inch iPhone 5s will stick around, 9to5Mac adds.
Included in both sizes, claims AppleInsider and the WSJ. It might detect finger-contact area instead of direct pressure, says Kuo, and will provide haptic feedback, adds VentureBeat. The screen may even be called “3D Touch” due to its ability to sense deeper levels of pressure, claims 9to5Mac.
Saying “Hey Siri” will activate the virtual assistant even when the iPhone isn’t plugged in to a power source, claims 9to5Mac.
A new A9 chip may bring speed and efficiency improvements in the same size as last year’s A8, says 9to5Mac.
A new Qualcomm chip could double the iPhone’s maximum LTE speed, and is also more power efficient, 9to5Mac claims.
May double to 2 GB, using more power-efficient LPDDR4 RAM, according to TechNews Taiwan.
The same old 16-GB base storage seems likely, alongside 64 GB and 128 GB options, says 9to5Mac.
Sturdier 7000 Series aluminum as seen in Apple Watch Sport seems likely, according to Economic Daily News and MacRumors. This may increase device size by 0.15 mm in length and 0.2 in thickness, says Kuo, a claim backed by uSwitch and Unbox Therapy.
It’s unlikely, though Kuo claims that limited units may get sapphire depending on drop-test results.
A new module may be less error-prone, says Kuo.
What should we make of all this? Here are a few takeaways:
Aside from a few early reports that likely haven’t panned out, the rumors above paint a fairly clear picture of Apple’s next iPhone. Near-field communications, once a yearly point of contention in the rumor mill, became the underlying technology for Apple Pay in the iPhone 6, and hardly anyone believes sapphire screens are imminent after Apple scrapped its big bet to produce them in an Arizona factory last year. Camera features seem somewhat uncertain–it’s likely Apple will have more to talk about than just additional megapixels–but even there, you can safely assume modest improvements over the already-excellent iPhone 6.
Typically, the iPhone’s design only changes in even-numbered years. In the odd years, Apple releases an “s” version, packing in new features and enhancements without any changes to the phone’s size or shape.
But in 2015, Apple may break with tradition and tweak the iPhone 6 design, adding a bit of weight, length, and thickness. A rumored switch to higher-quality aluminum–perhaps to avoid any further bent-metal scandals–and the possible inclusion of pressure-detecting Force Touch display technology could be to blame.
In lieu of flashy design changes, every “s” model iPhone to date has come with one marquee feature to tempt prospective upgraders. The iPhone 4s had Siri, the iPhone 5s had Touch ID, and it seems likely that the iPhone 6s will include Force Touch. The pressure-sensitive tech already appears on the Apple Watch display and on the trackpads of the 12-inch MacBook and line.
On the iPhone, 9to5Mac has offered several examples of how Force Touch might work: A hard press might bring up turn-by-turn directions in Maps, show related options for an Apple Music track, or bring up app shortcuts on the home screen. Essentially, Force Touch could help get things done a little faster.
Apple TV (2015)
A new remote will be larger than its predecessor, with a touchpad and two physical buttons, the New York Times reports. It may also have Wii remote-like motion controls, says TechCrunch and 9to5Mac, which also claims the remote will use a replaceable battery. While Bluetooth will be the primary input method, an Infrared sensor could allow for control of non-Bluetooth AV equipment, claims 9to5Mac.
The software, reportedly dubbed “tvOS,” is based on the current Apple TV, but with elements from iOS 9 and Mac OS X El Capitan, 9to5Mac reports.
The Apple TV’s chip could be a variant on the A8 processor that appears in the iPhone 6, BuzzFeed reports.
The new box may be thicker and wider than the current Apple TV, 9to5Mac says.
Pricing will start at $149, says BuzzFeed. A $199 16-GB version is possible if the base model only has 8 GB, with October shipping for both, according to 9to5Mac. The current $69 model could stick around as an entry-level option.
A couple observations:
From the price to the size to the processing power to the fancy new remote, all signs point to the new Apple TV being a different kind of product than its predecessor. While most other media streamers sell for $100 or less, Apple will try to stake out its usual spot on the high end, betting that its premium hardware and deep hooks into other iOS devices will entice its massive customer base. If there’s a risk, it’s that some people just want a cost-effective way to watch Netflix on their TVs, and the $69 Apple TV’s age is really starting to show.
App developers have a long list of things they’d like to see in the next Apple TV, but so far, the details on the long-awaited Apple TV SDK have been hazy. Hardware only tells part of the story; the bigger question is which apps we’ll see, and what they’ll be able to do.
While the iPhone 6s and Apple TV seem like sure bets next week, iPads are a wild card. Mark Gurman, a writer and highly reliable source at 9to5Mac, claims that Apple is planning to debut an iPad Mini 4 and a larger iPad Pro, but also says Apple could hold off on showing the Pro model. For the last few years, Apple has saved its iPad announcements for October.
If iPads are on tap for next week, Apple has done a much better job of keeping them secret. Not much is known about the iPad Mini 4, except that it could be as thin as the iPad Air 2, with an equally good iSight rear camera according to MacOtakara and other sources. A faster processor could also allow it to run two apps side by side with iOS, just like the iPad Air 2.
The iPad Pro is even more mysterious. Ming-Chi Kuo has claimed that the larger tablet will have an optional stylus and Force Touch display, but there’s been little talk of the integrated physical keyboard that tech pundits seem to want so badly. Reports by AppleInsider and the Wall Street Journal have pegged the screen size at 12.9 inches, with a possible USB-C port for external storage and other peripherals.
Even if these iPads show up next week, 9to5Mac claims they won’t ship until November. Update: The New York Times is reporting that Apple will indeed reveal “updated iPads,” though the report doesn’t specify which ones. It also mentions a “revamped iPad keyboard” that could arrive by year-end. New metal finishes for the Apple Watch could be on tap as well, including a less expensive version of the gold Apple Watch Edition.
Update 2: 9to5Mac adds even more detail on the iPad Pro, claiming that the stylus will be bundled instead of optional, and will “not look like a traditional” stylus. The report also says Apple will expand third-party Bluetooth keyboard support in some way, while also preparing its own keyboard accessory. The iPad Pro may also pack better speakers than Apple’s previous tablets, with a pair on both the top and bottom of the device, 9to5Mac claims.
Update 3: 9to5Mac is changing its mind on the iPad Pro stylus, saying it’ll be sold separately after all. The same will be true for official keyboards, one of which may have an integrated case similar to Microsoft’s Surface tablets. The site also reports that storage will start at 64 GB. Pricing isn’t clear, but the most expensive models should top $1,000, and Apple is aiming to ship in late November.
Update 4: Here’s a compelling argument from Daring Fireball’s John Gruber on why Apple won’t announce new iPads in September, though it’s purely speculative, not based on inside sources.
Update 5: And now Gruber says he’s hearing that this is the only event Apple is holding this fall, which means the iPad Pro should make an appearance.
Update 6: Here’s 9to5Mac again, correcting one of its earlier reports and dropping new rumors. The site says the base iPad Pro will have 32 GB of storage, not 64 GB, and will start at $799. As with other iPads, more storage will be sold in $100 increments, and LTE connectivity will add $130 to the cost.
In any case, Apple should have plenty to talk about on September 9. Tune in for live coverage from Fast Company!
(And after the event, we’ll tally up who was right–and who was just spreading rumors.)