Apple fans are always a little extra giddy this time of year. That’s because a new crop of gadgets and services are announced at its annual event, which took place this week.
This year was no different. New iPhones, Apple Watch Series 5, a bigger iPad and more are on the way. But are they worth all the hype?
Here’s Kim’s take on Apple’s latest event and everything you need to know about the new products and services.
What was the biggest takeaway from Apple’s event? Any surprises?
- No, there were no major surprises — at least where the iPhone 11 is concerned. Just about everything that was announced had already been leaked over the past few weeks and even months. And it’s pretty underwhelming, just as we expected. The base model iPhone 11 has two cameras on the back, while the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max have three including an ultra-wide lens. Oh, and they’re faster than the others.
- There was hope for a few new features that didn’t come to pass. For instance, signs pointed to reverse wireless charging and possibly even Apple Pencil support for the Pro model, but there wasn’t any mention. And of course, no 5G-capable models.
- A big surprise from the event was the price of Apple’s upcoming streaming service, Apple TV+. It’ll cost $4.99 a month when it launches on Nov. 1. Remember, Disney Plus costs $6.99 a month and launches 11 days later. And if you buy a new Apple device like an iPhone or iPad, you’ll get a year subscription for free. So there’s no doubt that Apple is ready to take on Netflix as well as Disney right out of the gate.
What about the other devices?
- As expected, the iPad is getting a refresh. What we didn’t know is that the base model is getting bigger, too. The 9.7-inch model is being replaced with a 10.2-inch version. The best part is, the price starts at $329. Now that’s a good deal.
- The Apple Watch Series 5 was also announced, but not much to cheer about there either. What’s new is an always-on display and more hardware and band options to choose from. You can even get one in a new titanium finish, to match your new Apple Card. They’re still missing the boat on sleep tracking, and that’s because it’ll still have the same 18-hour battery life as the Series 4. Make sure it’s all charged up for the day, and night.
If I have an iPhone 8, iPhone X or last year’s model, is there a real reason I should upgrade?
- That depends, but for most users, the answer is no. The iPhone 11 has a brighter OLED screen, a better camera system including night mode and a new slow-motion feature added to the front-facing camera. Unless you just have to take “slofies,” as Apple calls them, it’s not a standout feature; you might use it once then forget about it. It looks the same on the outside, notch and all, although it comes in six colors now.
- The iPhone 11 Pro is the biggest upgrade from last year’s but that’s still not saying much. There’s a third ultra-wide camera on the back and a faster processor that uses less power. Because of that, you’re supposed to get four more hours of battery life on the iPhone 11 Pro and five more on the iPhone Pro Max. If you’re looking for a reason to upgrade, the camera features are okay but the battery life could be the difference-maker. That, and if you want a strange new green-colored phone, which is also now an option.
- If you don’t have to upgrade, wait until next year when Apple is expected to release an iPhone that really does have useful features. It’s a no-brainer that they’ll release a 5G model in 2020, and probably include some of those other features we were expecting to see this year. Rumor has it they’ll also bring back Touch ID with a fingerprint reader under the screen. Great idea, but someone else will probably have it to the market first.
Is Apple’s new streaming service, Apple TV+, worth it?
- Yes, especially at the $4.99 monthly family plan. And a free year if you’re buying a new device? Absolutely. There’s not much to lose. With the content, there’s already a lot of buzz around the Apple original series, “The Morning Show,” starring Jennifer Aniston and Steve Carrell. And Apple says new shows will be added each month.
- For the kids, Apple Arcade will be launching on Sept. 9 for the same monthly price of $4.99. That’s cheaper than Google’s Stadia and Apple says new games will also be added each month.
When can I get the new iPhone and the other new tech they announced?
- As we expected, the new iPhones will be available for pre-order beginning at 5 a.m. Pacific on Friday the 13th. I don’t see why you’ll need to get up early because there shouldn’t be any crowds crashing the website, or lining up and breaking down the doors at the retail stores. The iPhone 11 starts at $699, while the iPhone 11 Pro starts at $999. If you’re ready to go all-out for the 6.5-inch screen on the iPhone 11 Pro Max, that one starts at $1,099.
- The new iPhones ship and will be in stores beginning on Friday, Sept. 20. That’s the day after iOS 13 becomes available to download.
- For the Apple Watch, the Series 5 is already available for pre-order and releases on the same day as the new iPhones, on Friday, Sept. 20. Those start at $399 for the GPS-only version and $499 if you want it to have 4G LTE-connectivity. With the new options available, the price can go way up from there.
- If you’re looking for the new iPad, you can pre-order that now as well, but it won’t ship until Monday, Sept. 30. Again, those start at $329.
- If there is something to get excited about from the event, it’s the new Apple streaming service. Because Apple hasn’t put a lot of effort into their hardware in years.