Not all who wonder are lust. Some of us will be forming an orderly queue in the holding room at One Apple Park Way on Tuesday morning. At 10 AM PT on September 12, Tim Cook and co. will be back at it, showcasing the latest gear ahead of the big holiday push.
There are two things we can confidently tell you will be on display at the big Apple event: the iPhone 15 and Apple Watch Series 9. There are some things in this world you can really set your smartwatch to. There have been rumors galore, of course. For one thing, a few members of the AirPods family are starting to get long in the tooth.
Macs are a perpetual possibility as well. I think I also speak for most of us when I say that it would be nice to get a little more face time with the Vision Pro headset that stole the show at WWDC, back in June.
What follows is a mix of what we know, what we think we know and what we’re straight up wildly speculating about.
The clear marquee announcement this time out. What’s perhaps most interesting about the iPhone 15 is that Apple had its hand forced here. It’s not like anyone in the big glass spaceship was champing at the bit to adopt USB-C (or Thunderbolt 3 or whatever you want to call it). You can thank EU regulators for that one. Last year, the European Parliament voted to standardize ports across devices.
Now, technically, those regulators gave manufacturers until the end of 2024 to implement the tech across devices, but all signs point to Apple pulling off the Band-Aid for the iPhone 15. Among other things, more regional governing bodies are poised to follow the EU’s lead here for consumer advocacy and e-waste related reasons.
Last September marked the 10th anniversary of Apple forcing the Lightning connector to be a thing. The thing about Lightning, however, is that it’s bad and I hate it. My colleagues hate it. Friends and family hate it. My rabbit likes it, but she’ll happily chew through any cable, regardless of what’s on either end. Point is, it’s bad and has always been bad.
An interesting caveat here is the report that the higher USB 3.2 data speed will be reserved for the pro models, with the standard iPhone 15 stuck at USB 2.0 (still a common spec in Android land).
Wireless charging, meanwhile, is said to be bumped up to 35W across the board. It seems the iPhone will be one of the first phones to adopt the Qi2 standard, which combines wireless charging with magnets — something Apple has been doing for a minute. Given that Apple is one of the 344 companies in the Wireless Power Consortium (and all of the Qi2 iPhone accessories announced at IFA), this feels like a safe bet.
Meanwhile, the Dynamic Island — introduced on the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max — should be trickling down to the cheaper models as well.
Another interesting addition is the rumored iPhone 15 Ultra, which would replace the Pro Max and adopt Apple’s recent naming convention. That handset is said to sport a 6.7-inch display with a 120 Hz refresh rate, slimmed down bezels and the new “Action” button, which replaces the long standard Mute. The new button — which is adopted from the Apple Watch Ultra — would also grace the iPhone 15 Pro. It’s said to offer a number of different customizable shortcuts to things like the camera, accessibility options, flashlight and the actual Shortcuts app (if you want to get creative).
Apple Watch Series 9
Speaking of the Apple Watch. The rumor mill has actually been pretty silent here. That could well be an indication that this is a relative down year for the wearable. It could also be due to the fact that next year is the big 1-0, so Apple may wait until next year to pull out all the stops. It’s also likely waiting for next year for a new Apple Watch SE.
That said, a new Apple Watch Ultra does appear to be in the cards for next week. Both the Ultra 2 and Series 9 are likely to get new processors and colors. There’s also been talk of Apple eyeing 3D printing for case design, after adopting the process for elements of the Vision Pro. I do think there’s still a big question of scale when comes to something as mass market as the Apple Watch, however.
The time feels right for some new AirPods. That said, 2024 seems a likelier timeline for the headphones to get the H2 chip treatment. However, selling a stand-alone USB-C charging case may be in the cards. And hey, speaking of overdue, it’s been just under three years since we got the AirPods Max. While we’re at it, I wouldn’t be mad at a new HomePod mini.
A better look at the Vision Pro seems almost certain. Content remains a big question mark, so this could be a year of demos, seeing as how the “spatial computing” headset hits the market early next year. We got virtually nothing in the way of games. Now that the SDK and Unity’s development platform have been out in the world for a minute, that seems like a distinct possibility.
More specifics on the iOS/macOS/iPadOS/watchOS release dates would make sense. Macs, however, look like a bit more of a long shot this time out, and the M3 is far more likely to arrive in 2024.
The Apple Event kicks off at 10 AM PT on September 12. We’ll be there bringing it to you live.