Look, going off the sheer number of leaks we’ve seen the past few months, there’s no way you didn’t know Apple was planning to unveil a horde of new gadgets next week. Hell, the folks in Cupertino are even counting down to the event (and the livestream that goes with it) on Apple.com. If all those rumors and reports hold true, two iPhones and two wearables will take the stage next week, so let’s take a moment and dissect what we know (and what we think we know) about Apple’s newest batch of gear.
Two new iPhones in 2014
In a concession to how people’s smartphone tastes have shifted, Apple’s been working on not one, but two iPhones: a 4.7-inch version and an awfully phablet-esque 5.5-inch model for those who think iOS 8 really needs some room to breathe. Debates have raged over whether Apple will cover those displays in ultra-durable sapphire crystal (no more battered screens!), but KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts the company won’t take the plunge — instead saying they’ll offer 128GB versions of the new iPhone instead. Naturally, our fingers are crossed for both. The New York Times also points out that iOS 8 will include a one-hand mode for folks who can’t quite wrap their mitts around these bigger phones.
Look beyond those screens and you’ll notice a completely different body — the last time Apple revamped the iPhone’s look this dramatically, we got the angular iPhone 4. Time almost seems to be running in reverse, as leaked component photos and videos point to a thinner, rounder unibody aluminum affair that’s actually very evocative of the original iPhone. One of the possible side effects of that slimdown is a sleep/wake button that now lives on the phone’s right edge and a camera pod that juts out slightly. Speaking of, we’re not quite sure how robust those shooters are (most guesses are either eight or 13 megapixels), but yet another component leak may confirm that the 5.5-inch iPhone has optical image stabilization. Many of the most compelling images of the new iPhones (or what we think are the new iPhones) have come from longtime leaker Sonny Dickson and a high-end Russian accessory maker called Feld & Volk. Meanwhile, some new Russian leakers have apparently slapped some Apple bits and bobs together to give us what may be the closest thing to the official iPhone 6 we’ve seen so far.
So yes, dramatic redesign. Fine — how about what’s inside? There isn’t much known about the iPhone’s new 64-bit A8 processor, but a little sleuthing by MacRumors suggests that it might come paired with 1GB of RAM (just like the 5s before it). Yet more poking around with components revealed that 16GB of storage is still the baseline (well, for the 4.7-inch model, anyway). Oh, and both the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times have said the new iPhones will come with NFC chips that are meant to work with a new payments system Apple has been slaving away on. That’s, well, huge. Thanks to iTunes, Apple is sitting on top of a seriously silly amount of people’s payment information — turning your iPhone into your wallet (CNET lays out a few interesting possibilities) might wind up being one of the most lucrative things Apple could do.
So, when can you get these things? The ceaseless whispers from the rumor mill says they should officially launch a few weeks after the event, and many expect the 4.7-inch version to start at the usual $199 with a contract. That means — you guessed it — the bigger version would probably start at around $299 on-contract and the 5s would assuredly slide down the price scale to $99.
The iWatch cometh
Prognosticators have been calling for an Apple smartwatch since smartwatches became a thing, and it looks like they’re finally getting their wish. Apple’s expected to pull back the curtain on its first wearable next week too — we just hope it isn’t actually called the iWatch. What do we actually know about the thing? Not a ton, but still more than you might think.
For a company and gadget types that are so prone to causing leak-y hysteria, it’s sort of a shock that we still don’t know what the thing’ll look like (all of the images in this story are renders, natch). The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal just published two of the most detailed peeks at Apple’s wearable we’ve seen yet, and they point to the existence of two differently sized watches with curved (and maybe even flexible) OLED screens coated in sapphire glass. Last time that “two model” rumor made the rounds, Business Insider guessed that Apple was working on distinct versions for men and women, but it’s also possible we’re just looking at two different form factors à la the traditional Samsung Gear and the bracelet-y Gear Fit. Either way, we’ve already seen style play a big part in people’s smartwatch preferences. Remember Google I/O? Attendees were given both Samsung’s and LG’s Android Wear watches, but an audible groan ran through the crowd when they realized they wouldn’t get the utterly handsome Moto 360.
Thankfully, we’ve got a slightly better sense of what the watch will actually do. You can bet Apple’s watch will deliver email, message and app notifications to your wrist, and the Times adds you’ll be able to view maps on it as well. We know that Siri is getting smarter (behind closed doors, anyway), and she may play a role in how apps are displayed on devices with limited screen sizes. Sound familiar? Then there’s the wellness angle. Apple’s making a big mobile health push in the form of HealthKit for iOS 8, and its watch would be the perfect tool to collect some of that data on the fly. All told, the Journal says there will be more than 10 sensors nestled in the watch to help keep tabs on your body — expect mundane components like accelerometers mixed in with more exotic fare. Sweat sensors, anyone? (Fine, maybe not). As it turns out, the watch could tie into the new payments platform Apple has been tinkering with thanks to a built-in NFC chip, so it’s possible you’ll be able to pay for your morning coffee with a tap of your wrist soon enough. Oh, and when it comes time to give the thing some juice? Apple is notorious for being all about appearances, which lends credence to the reports that they’ve eschewed icky cables in favor of a wireless charging system.
For all the uncertainty surrounding the wearable, one thing seems clear — Apple’s probably going to sell a stupid number of them. Better start scrimping now: A report from Re/code (which accurately pinpointed the event’s date in advance) suggests that Apple’s wearable won’t actually start shipping until early next year, and Apple brass has at least talked about selling it for $400.
Filed under: Mobile