Apple sent out invitations Wednesday announcing September 7 as the date for its flagship iPhone launch event, where the company is expected to also introduce other gadgets like news iPads and Apple Watches ahead of the holiday season.
The event, with the tagline “Far Out”, will be streamed online on YouTube and Apple’s website. Apple launch events have been virtual since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic but starting with this year’s WWDC, the company has shifted its focus to a more hybrid approach, calling select media to attend the events.
Apple’s September event is dedicated to new iPhones and this year won’t be any different. Expect four new iPhone 14 models — or whatever they may be called — to be unveiled by CEO Tim Cook and team.
For the past few years, the iPhone lineup has been consistent, consisting of two entry-level models and two high-end models. While the standard iPhone 14 model will still drive sales, Cupertino may look at increasing the market share of its ‘Pro’ lineup in the high-end smartphone market, which is on the upswing due to an increase in the flow of cash in the hands of young, affluent consumers. The current rumour mill points to changes being made to its iPhone 14 lineup, with a clear distinction between standard and pro models. That will not only simplify the lineup but also increase the ASP (Average selling price) of the iPhone and improve Apple’s market share in the smartphone market.
The standard iPhone 14 won’t likely get any groundbreaking features. In fact, it will look very similar to last year’s model, featuring the same notch, dual-camera setup on the back, with a marginal increase in performance and battery life. Despite a gloomy economic outlook and increase in manufacturing costs, Apple may not change the price of the iPhone 14 and keep selling the most-popular iPhone model at $799 to remain competitive with Android devices from Samsung and OnePlus. The $799 will become the new starting price for the iPhone range.
But one iPhone 14 model that many hope could be in high demand during the festive season will be a new ‘Max’ variant. Analysts and insiders predict Apple will replace the $699 iPhone mini with the $899 iPhone 14 Max, the latter model will boast a 6.7-inch display but offers the same features and design as the standard iPhone 14. This model gives Apple a scope to charge more from consumers, thanks to the big-screen display and bigger battery. The $899 iPhone 14 Max will be positioned as an ‘aspirational’ device despite still being a mid-range offering.
For people willing to pay even more for smartphones, Apple will offer two ultra-premium smartphones — the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. Both models will see notch-less displays, a 48-megapixel camera, a new A16 processor and improved battery life. A $100 price increase on the iPhone 14 Pro/Pro Max is likely in store, given component price increases as well as added functionality. Many experts believe that there’s still room for Apple to go higher and a $100 price hike might not have a negative effect on sales of its ‘Pro’ lineup. Because consumers are willing to pay for larger screens and advanced features, the demand for iPhone 14 Pro lineup will continue to be high.
All four iPhone 14 models will also reportedly get an expensive new front-facing camera, which could be the reason why Apple is under pressure to increase the prices of its iPhones. The iPhone 14 launch event will also give Apple the opportunity to highlight iOS 16, the update to its mobile operating system announced in June. The free upgrade is expected to be rolled out to all new and old iPhones later in September.
Beyond iPhones, trade pundits expect Apple to release three new Apple Watch models: the Apple Watch Series 8, an updated Apple Watch SE, and an Apple Watch geared toward extreme sports. The sports model is expected to have the company’s largest smartwatch display to date, along with a bigger battery, rugged metal casing and a brand new sensor to detect fevers by taking the wearer’s body temperature.
The extreme Watch model is expected to cost more, with the price upwards of $900. With the ‘rugged’ Apple Watch model, experts hope Apple will get into a niche but extremely profitable watch segment aimed at hikers and athletes. Garmin is the biggest player in the extreme smartwatch segment.
Apple’s September 7 event comes at a time when high inflation tops consumers’ worries and demand for smartphones continues to fall. However, Apple is performing better than its peers and its iPhones remain bestsellers despite softening smartphone demand otherwise. In emerging markets like India, Apple has benefited from the expansion of the premium smartphone segment. The recall value of the brand alongside the strategy to keep the prices of its iPhones higher than the competition is working for Apple, despite a tiny market share.
With Samsung recently making headlines with the launch of Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Flip 4, analysts cautioned that expecting a foldable phone from Apple could be premature. Instead, analysts expect Apple to announce new services to keep consumers locked in the ecosystem. It will be interesting to see how Apple plans to make its iPhones more accessible, a hardware subscription model would make a lot of sense.