What exactly is on the agenda at Apple’s biggest keynote of the year?


It is that time of the year again. Apple’s annual keynote on September 7, which itself has been dubbed ‘Far Out’, comes a few days earlier than usually was the trend over the last few years. What isn’t likely to change is the articulation of anticipation. It is expected there will be new iPhones, another Apple Watch to join the existing line-up and not to forget, the AirPods Pro wireless earbuds are due for an update too.

The new iPhone line-up, expected to be called iPhone 14, should largely continue with the same template – two “Pro” phones, and two that aren’t. We are not entirely sure if the Mini will make a return this year – it was introduced in 2020 (as an iPhone 12 series phone) and duly got a specs upgrade in 2021 (part of the iPhone 13 series). The timing is ideal for Apple to try something different – a large screen iPhone (the 6.7-inch screen size as the Pro Max phones, though priced under $1000 (around 75,000). Will they, though?

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Another year of incremental iPhone updates?

There is no doubt that last year’s iPhone 13 was in the incremental update stage, post the big changes that defined the switch to the iPhone 12 from iPhone 11. The design was just one part of the wider overhaul. Yet, there is the sense that iPhone 14 will be a second successive year for a prudent approach to upgrades, instead of wholesale changes.

That means the ‘Far Out’ keynote will introduce us to a medley of the newer Apple A16 processor, camera upgrades, new iOS 16 software functionality and rework to the display which could see a redesigned (read, smaller – this has been a persistent demand) notch. That said, Apple will not compromise the responsiveness of Face ID on the iPhones. In fact, face detection with a mask should be faster with new face detection hardware.

It may be another year before Apple joins the iPads and Macs, with the Apple Silicon, or the M-series chips. The same could be true for the expected switch to USB-C too, which will be forced through at some point due to the regulatory intervention in many countries (the EU has made its decision, India is in discussions too).

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Speaking of cameras, could Apple finally switch from the 12-mgeapixel cameras (they’ve undoubtedly served iPhone users well over the years, and continue to do so) to larger sensors with more megapixels? That would be a winning combination, not just because there will be more image data to process, but the software smarts that Apple has developed over time (Deep Fusion, Smart HDR and ProRAW to name a few), will really come into their own.

Overall, we expect the design language to remain the same, though there will be footprint differences owing to larger batteries. We say that, because even in the last two years, Apple has consistently increased battery capacities while the newer generation processors have improved power consumption as well. There is no reason to change that working formula.

Beyond iPhone: The importance of the wearables ecosystem

For Apple, the Wearables, Home and Accessories category has been consistently increasing its share of the earnings pie and isn’t one the company is likely to ignore at the ‘Far Out’ keynote. It wouldn’t need to force an update through either. Two of the iPhone’s most popular companion accessories, the AirPods and the Apple Watch, are due for their moment in the spotlight.

The Apple AirPods Pro, the flagship wireless earbuds in the line-up, went on sale in October 2019. It has been a while since. We will likely see the AirPods Pro 2 (at least that’s the assumption they’ll be called). The design may not change much, but the improvements will be inside each earbud – the evolution of the H1 processor, wider codec support and working with newer Bluetooth standards. Would it be too much to expect a health tracking element to the earbuds?

It was last year when Apple was reported to be considering adding the health and wellness functionality to the AirPods, such as the ability to work as a hearing aid. Motion sensors in the earbuds can also warn a wearer when incorrect posture is detected. But 2022 may just be too soon for the AirPods Pro to get this functionality suite.

It’s been a year since the Apple Watch Series 7 went on sale – in three variations. The Apple Watch SE wasn’t updated last year, which could make it a prime candidate for an update this year. It’ll give Apple the pricing advantage as well since it’ll likely be positioned as the entry point into the updated Watch line-up. The first generation missed out on some functionality, including blood oxygen monitoring, but those limitations could be eliminated this time around.

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Could it be time to widen the Apple Watch line-up, which has largely had the same contours for years? If we aren’t wrong, the Series 4 from 2018 ushered in this design and it’s been similar since. Unlike smartphones, you can’t really go much larger with watches beyond a point, but if there is to be an Apple Watch Pro, what could it be? The logical answer would be ruggedness, considering Apple Watch’s health and fitness tracking suite is as geared for activity as it can be.

A rugged casing, perhaps frugal display tech and longer battery life, could make the core of the Apple Watch Pro. That would put it in direct competition with premium priced and activity focused watches made by Garmin, for instance.

Garmin’s high-end watches include the Epix 2 (priced around 1,11,990), the Fenix 7 series (around 1,00,990 onwards) and the more focused Forerunner 955 (around 63,990), which gives Apple enough margin on pricing too.

Will there be a “One more thing”?

We can hope. Likely not on the agenda for the ‘Far Out’ event are any updates for the iPad or the Macs, including new MacBooks. That could be a few weeks from now. Which leaves us with the slight chance there could be a new HomePod smart speaker. After all, Apple needs to get back into the smart speaker game, considering it is focused heavily on the ecosystem, and the larger HomePod has since been discontinued. For what it’s worth, we don’t see the Apple TV 4K getting superseded anytime soon.

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