Apple is set to unveil the latest in its product lineup at 1 p.m. EST on Wednesday at its Cupertino, California, headquarters. Since the iPhone is Apple’s best-selling gadget, it’s the fall iPhone event that garners the most attention. This time around, we’ve heard a lot about what the event may have in store (as well as what it won’t), but there are still a few mysteries.
Whether or not you’re a fan of Apple, the company plays a pivotal role in the consumer-technology industry. Its new products and developments—from their outward industrial design, to material choices, to software features like Animoji—can influence the space for years to come, both in terms of new products and new avenues for accessories.
Based on leaks, reports, and the patterns in Apple’s product-release history, here’s what we expect the company to unveil at Wednesday’s event.
For months, reports have suggested that Apple will announce three new iPhones this year. The two flagship models will be outfitted with OLED displays, one the same size as the iPhone X (5.8 inches) while the other, Apple’s biggest phone to date, could measure 6.5 inches. A third “budget” model, expected to cost about $725, would feature an LED display and come in multiple colors. All three phones should be styled after the iPhone X. The high-end models will likely be controlled by an Apple-designed A12 processor that runs 10 percent faster than its predecessor. A number of signs suggest that these phones could have better battery life than last year’s models, but they will likely still feature the same camera hardware as the iPhone X. The phones will still feature a Lightning charging port as well.
Given that it’s an S year, reports suggest the flagship phones will be called the iPhone XS, and the 6.5-inch model would be the iPhone XS Max. Some thought the budget model would be called the iPhone 9, but Bloomberg reports that it could be dubbed the iPhone XR.
As for availability, last year Apple announced the iPhone X in September, but the device didn’t go on sale until early November. Analysts expect this year’s iPhones to be available much sooner after this week’s onstage debut.
Apple Watch Series 4
This year’s Apple Watch will reportedly feature some small external changes along with some key new features. In his most recent research note, TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reported that he expects the Apple Watch Series 4 to include an electrocardiography sensor for more advanced heart rate monitoring. With this sensor, Apple can perform more advanced heartbeat analysis that’s until now been limited to chest straps or third-party wristbands.
In terms of looks, the Apple Watch Series 4 could have a larger display along with a ceramic underside plate on all of its models. (Currently, the lower-end aluminum Apple Watch versions have a plastic backside.)
Apple introduced AirPods, its wireless, in-ear headphones, in 2016. The buds differed from Apple’s existing earbuds not just in their lack of headphone jack or Lightning connector—they also included an array of onboard sensors (for detecting taps and whether they’re being worn), the W1 processor, superquick iPhone pairing, and Siri integration.
Now we’re expecting Apple to debut a second version of the wireless buds. Details are still slim, but we’re anticipating improved battery life (the current iteration delivers about five hours of listening time), a better wireless chip, and “Hey Siri” support for hands-free queries. We should also see an updated AirPods case that charges wirelessly.
Apple’s most recent iPhones have the ability to charge wirelessly, but Apple hasn’t yet shipped its own wireless charger. It announced the AirPower charging mat at last year’s iPhone event with a to-be-determined 2018 release date. The mat will allow owners of the iPhone X, iPhone 8, or this year’s phones to set their phone down on a mat to charge, rather than plugging in a charger cable. While it was largely expected to ship in June, a variety of technical hurdles pushed its debut later. Part of the complexity of Apple’s mat may be its need to charge three different-size devices: the iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods. If Apple’s figured out the kinks, Apple’s first wireless charger may make another appearance on Wednesday—and finally ship, too.
Apple will also take some time to detail the highlights of iOS 12 and macOS Mojave, which it first unveiled at WWDC this summer. We should also learn release dates for these operating systems (as well as watchOS 5 and tvOS 12, for the Apple Watch and Apple TV, respectively).
While it’s possible Apple could announce other hardware products, such as a new iPad or Mac updates, it’s more likely that the company will save these announcements for later this year.
Apple tends to hold a second Mac- or iPad-focused event in the fall roughly every other year. There was no second event last year, but in 2016, Apple held a Mac-focused event in late October, where it introduced the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. Before that, it held October iPad-focused events in 2013 and 2014. While it’s possible Apple could make iPad or Mac announcements on Wednesday, it’s more likely Apple will either save them for a separate event or release them later this year, sans special event.