Apple Special Event – Sept 10, 2013 / By: Kevin Weiler
Here we are, just over 10 months since the last major product release from Apple (aside from the Macbook Air refresh mid-June at WWDC). Apple has promised us a “flurry” of new product launches for Q4 ’13, and this conference will kick everything off. This event is mostly going to be iPhone related, with a couple other possible surprises. Here’s my take on what we should be expecting, based off all listed rumours and leaks revealed so far.
To start, we’ll see a new flagship model, the ‘5S’. This device will not be a redesign, keeping the same form factor and dimensions of the iPhone 5. The colours will remain with black and slate, and white and silver. This time, two new colours could be introduced. A champagne/gold like colour mixed with white, and also a rose mixed with white. There’s also been rumors that the champagne will have rose accents, and then there will be a black and metallic grey anodized aluminum option. The champagne colour may not be popular in North America, but it is the most desired colour in Eastern countries such as India and Asia. This will help Apple gain more market share in those demographics. Internals will also be bumped up to an A7 processor, possibly quad core. The ram will be upgraded from 1GB to 2GB. The camera system will also be upgraded to 12MP, but more importantly a dual LED flash system will be integrated, and 120FPS slow motion filming will be added. The storage may also be shifted from the normal 16/32/64 sizes to 32/64/128. This will also lower the prices for existing storage levels. Whereas a 16GB iPhone 5 would cost $199 on term, the 32GB would replace it and so forth. The highlight of the device will be a brand new finger print scanner. It’ll be integrated into the home button, and at launch be used solely for unlocking the device, or any other passcode related function. Mobile payments will be added to Passbook, but I don’t feel this feature will be available with the launch of iOS 7. A sleeper hit feature of the iOS7 press conference was iBeacons. This uses Bluetooth LE to act as a trigger for local events, such as home automation and payment systems. If you’re familiar with NFC, it’s essentially the same thing, but it allows for one less radio inside the device because the iOS devices already use Bluetooth LE 4.0. I don’t see NFC ever being added to the devices now that this exists.
This next release will be a new category, and something different from what Apple has done in the past. Once a new device is released, the previous generation becomes discounted and then discontinued the next year. To help de-fragment the iOS family, this year the 4/4S will be completely discontinued. Apple is trying to get their entire lineup at a 4” screen size, and this is the best way to get it done. So to replace the void that those devices filled, a completely new lower cost, or ‘budget’ iPhone will be released. It has tentatively been named the ‘5C’, possibly meaning colour. The device itself will essentially be an iPhone 5, but with a polycarbonate shell that will come in 5 different colours (white, red, green, yellow, blue). This device will also be factory unlocked, and only sold outright. Apple has been trying to find ways to increase iPhone sales at their retail locations, and this is an incredible solution. It also helps gain back lost market share in developing countries where handsets are available off contract for $200-300. The device will come in a 16GB model for $349. It will be sold at Apple retail and Premium Reseller locations, or possibly at 0$ on a 2 year term with carriers. The iPhone 5 will most likely get discontinued because of this. It has been confirmed that iOS 7 will still support the iPhone 4 and up, so users of those devices will get at least one more year of support out of them.
Other reveals at this conference will be a final release date and showcase of iOS 7, and a final release date for OS X Mavericks. The release date for iOS 7 will be September 18, followed by the release of the ‘5S’ and ‘5C’ on September 20. A couple of last minute surprises might include an Apple TV refresh (last update was March 2012), an update to the Airport Express, and a possible Mac Pro styled unveiling of an iWatch, with release either late Q4 or Spring 2014. The iPod touch could also see an update at this event, but I don’t see them making any major changes. The iPod lineup they have now is fairly solid, and a spec bump or size change wouldn’t really be worth doing at this event unless it was mentioned very briefly.
There will also be no updates to the iPads, as this will be done next month in October. A fully redesigned iPad 5th generation and updated iPad mini will be revealed, alongside updated Macbook Pro with Retina Display, the iMac line and a final release on the fully redesigned Mac Pro. The entry level Macbook Pro line may be finally discontinued, as there were no updates at WWDC.
With the holiday season approaching fast, Apple will waste no time unveiling and releasing all the new products in the pipeline for the rest of 2013. Keep an eye out for my next report once an October event is revealed, and follow along with the event on Tuesday, September 10 at 1pm EST. Liveblogs will be available on any major tech blog, although Apple may live stream the event as well.