We were in Cupertino this week to see Apple unveil its latest crop of hardware. Here were some of our biggest takeaways from one of the biggest events in tech.
Apple’s Flagship Phones Have Never Been Easier to Choose Between
Since the advent of the iPhone X, the differences between Apple’s flagship smartphones have been tough to distill. The iPhone X and iPhone 8 were night and day in terms of style, but the iPhone X’s additional face-scanning and camera features didn’t clearly trump the value proposition of the $300-cheaper iPhone 8. The iPhone XR and XS were even tougher to delineate. The differences between the iPhone 11 and the iPhone 11 Pro, however, are very clear indeed. Do you need a phone with a camera that is capable of competing with a DSLR in terms of optical zoom and 4K video prowess? Then the Pro is for you. No? Just get the 11.
The iPad Is Going After Laptops, Hardcore
In a quick announcement at the front of Apple’s big event, we got the 7th-gen iPad, a 10.2-inch device that will run you $329 and, thanks to the new iPad OS, support keyboard and Apple Pencil input. Apple’s Smart Keyboard will cost you a cool $160, which kicks up the price but still results in a sub-$400 package that could prove a serious rival to Chromebooks and other cheap laptops in the same price range — depending, of course, on how well Apple’s iPad OS shapes up.
Apple TV+ Could Be a Game-Changer
Apple finally announced the details about its competitor to Netflix, Hulu and Disney+ and it’s cheap. Very. At $5 per month, Apple’s premium service will undercut Disney’s $7 a month offering, which was already almost half the price of Netflix. What’s more, a free year of Apple TV+ will come with the purchase of select new Apple devices, which gives the service a terrific chance to sink its teeth into you. Whether the actual shows are good enough to make it a must-have, though, remains to be seen.
You Can Get an Apple Watch for $200 Now
Apple announced a new Apple Watch today, bringing some added health features, a new always-on OLED screen and case options in ceramic and titanium. But the bigger news might be that the Apple Watch Series 3, a great gadget in its own right, is now available from Apple at a permanent price of $200, making it an ultra-low-cost entry point into Apple’s smartwatches.
Apple Is Saving Its Biggest Releases for Later
There are always rumors that don’t pan out but this event spawned more than most. Whispers hinted Apple might release a Bluetooth item-tracking competitor to the Tile line of products but while there was no mention on stage, the software hooks for such a device still exist in iOS 13, which means it’s almost certainly coming at some point. There was also no news on the AirPods front, despite rumors of a potential sweat-proof, active noise-canceling version. We can’t know for certain what the next revision of AirPods will feature, but they’re probably coming soon considering they’re being outclassed by competitors. And last but not least, rumors that Apple might include a rear-facing depth camera or an under-the-screen fingerprint sensor didn’t pan out, but both prospective features have bubbled up with enough frequency that they seem likely to come to an iPhone eventually, perhaps in a bigger upgrade next year.
We’ll just have to wait and see.