Apple Event September 2021

Apple's autumn announcement brings bumper crop of newness

Image credit: Apple

In this year's annual September keynote event, Apple previewed a host of new products, including four new iPhone 13 models, two new iPads and the new Watch Series 7.

At its annual event, Apple announced updates to almost all of its iOS lineup of products (except the iPads Pro and Air), along with the latest iteration of its Watch wearable and new additions to its Fitness+ health and wellbeing service. All of the new products are available for pre-order and shipping either immediately or within the next few weeks.

As widely rumoured and expected, Apple unveiled the iPhone 13, in four different guises: Pro, Pro Max, regular 13 and Mini.

Apple claims the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max will be "more pro than ever before" and will have "the most advanced pro camera system ever on iPhone", with new Ultra Wide, Wide and Telephoto cameras.

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The new technology is designed to enable new photo capabilities, such as macro photography and up to 2.2x improved low-light performance. Both Pro models also now include Night mode. Video capture has also been enhanced, with a Cinematic mode for depth-of-field transitions, macro video, Time-lapse, Slo-mo, and better low-light performance.

For film professionals, both models also offer end-to-end pro workflows in Dolby Vision and, for the first time, ProRes, which is only available on iPhone.

The handsets feature Super Retina XDR displays with ProMotion and a 120Hz refresh rate, have been given a significant boost to battery life, promise a better 5G experience, and are powered by Apple's A15 Bionic, the fastest chip in a smartphone.

A new 1TB storage capacity is also introduced and the front cover of the phones features 'Ceramic Shield', which is rated as being tougher than any other smartphone glass. The iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max will be available in four colours: Graphite, Gold, Silver, and a new 'Sierra Blue'. Pre-orders begin Friday 17 September, with availability beginning Friday 24 September.

Greg Joswiak, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, said: “iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max make up our most pro iPhone lineup ever with the biggest advancement for our camera system, the best battery life ever in an iPhone and the fastest performance of any smartphone, setting a new standard for iPhone and enabling incredible experiences never before possible.”

The consumer/prosumer-level iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini also promise new camera innovations and are powered by the same A15 Bionic chip, with similar battery performance improvements.

The flat-edged phone will be available in five colours – Pink, Blue, Midnight, Starlight and (PRODUCT)RED – and have been designed to deliver the most advanced dual-camera system ever on an iPhone, with the new Wide camera with bigger pixels and sensor-shift optical image stabilisation (OIS) offering improvements in low-light photos and videos, and the Cinematic mode for more impressive video capture.

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The iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini will also have a Super Retina XDR display (with greater contrast ratio for true blacks and a 28 per cent increase in maximum outdoor brightness at 800 nits, with higher peak brightness for HDR content like photos and videos at 1200 nits) and that durable Ceramic Shield front cover, along with full 5G support, an IP68 rating for water resistance, and a boost to the entry-level storage, now starting at 128GB. Pre-order and shipping dates are the same as for the Pro models.

Joswiak said: “Our customers rely on iPhone every day, which is why we’ve made iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini more powerful, more capable and more fun to use. Both phones have beautiful designs, industry-leading performance and advanced camera systems with impressive computational photography features, all with incredible durability, water resistance and a big jump in battery life to ensure customers can depend on their iPhone when they need it. All of this, tightly integrated with iOS 15 and with privacy built in, make iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini an unbeatable choice.”

Apple also used the event to update two models in its iPad range: the mini and the original, entry-level iPad.

The new iPad mini has been given a tremendous performance boost, along with a new design. It now boasts a larger 8.3in Liquid Retina all-screen display (500 nits of brightness, a P3 wide colour gamut, anti-reflective screen coating, True Tone, and full lamination), with Touch ID built into the Home button on the top bezel, stereo 'widescreen' speakers (two at each end, when held in landscape mode), Apple's 'Centre Stage' feature for more engaging multi-person video calls using FaceTime and other apps, support for 5G, and the A15 Bionic chip. The addition of the A15 alone has boosted the mini's performance by an estimated 80 per cent.

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The new mini also comes with an industry-standard USB-C port for faster connectivity, easier charging and support for peripherals, such as external storage. This could be important, given that the only two internal storage options are 64Gb or 256Gb, with a price difference between the two models of £140 for that space premium.

There is also new support for the Apple Pencil 2nd generation, which conveniently attaches magnetically to the side of the mini for wireless charging and pairing. Finish options for the mini will be Pink, Starlight, Purple and classic Space Grey.

Joswiak declared: “With its ultra-portable design and wide range of uses from everyday tasks to creative and enterprise applications, there’s nothing else like iPad mini. The new iPad mini is a huge leap forward that can be held in the palm of your hand.”

The new iPad mini also marks a manufacturing milestone for Apple, with the model using 100 per cent recycled aluminium in the enclosure. Every model in Apple's iPad lineup now has a 100 per cent recycled aluminium enclosure. iPad mini also uses 100 per cent recycled tin in the solder of the main logic board and 100 per cent recycled rare earth elements in the magnets in the enclosure and the speakers.

Apple's original iPad – and most popular, in sales terms – was also given a spec bump, with what is now the '9th Generation' model acquiring the A13 Bionic chip, the Centre Stage video feature, True Tone for better screen colours, and double the entry-level storage, starting at 64GB like the mini (256GB is a second option).

The A13 Bionic chip, despite being two generations behind the cutting-edge A15 Bionic used in the other new devices announced, is still blazingly fast. According to Apple's tests, the A13 chip makes the new 9th-gen iPad up to 3x faster than the best-selling Chromebook and up to a 6x faster than the best-selling Android tablet.

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As the iPad of choice for mass purchase by education and enterprise customers, Joswiak noted that: “iPad has never been more essential for working, learning and communicating and we’re excited to bring one of the biggest updates ever to our most popular iPad. With the powerful A13 Bionic, more engaging video calls with Centre Stage and double the storage, the new iPad delivers advanced capabilities, versatility and simplicity at an incredible value.”

Rounding out the new hardware announcements is the Apple Watch Series 7, which features a larger, more advanced display, enhanced durability, faster charging, new aluminium case colours, and support for the forthcoming watchOS 8 operating system.

The Watch Series 7 has a reengineered 'Always-On' Retina display with more screen area and thinner borders, thus enabling that claim to be the largest and most advanced display ever. The physical Watch has also been given more rounded corners for a more refined look and feel, with the display having a unique refractive edge that makes full-screen watch faces appear to connect with the curvature of the case. Two new exclusive watch faces – Contour and Modular Duo – have been designed specifically for the new device.

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Apple is also touting the Series 7 Watch as its most durable model ever, with a stronger, more crack-resistant front crystal (claimed to be 50 per cent thicker than that of Apple Watch Series 6). It is also the first Apple Watch to have an IP6X certification for resistance to dust (crucial for beach and desert users) and maintains its WR50 water-resistance rating. The new charging architecture and Magnetic Fast Charger USB-C cable have been designed to enable 33 per cent faster charging and lock in the fabled all-day 18-hour battery life on a single charge.

Five new aluminium case finishes will also debut with the new Watch model, along with a range of new band colours and styles.

Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer, said: “Apple Watch Series 7 delivers significant improvements – from our largest and most advanced display, to enhanced durability and faster charging – making the world’s best smartwatch better than ever before. Powered by watchOS 8, Apple Watch brings useful new capabilities to help customers stay connected, track activity and workouts and better understand their overall health and wellness.”

Finally, in tandem with the new Watch announcements, Apple also detailed Apple Fitness+, which will be the first fitness service built entirely around Apple Watch. It will introduce a new body-conditioning workout type with Pilates and a simple way to practice mindfulness with guided Meditation. Fitness+ is also introducing a new program called Workouts to 'Get Ready for Snow Season', featuring two-time Olympic gold medalist and five-time world champion skier Ted Ligety, along with Fitness+ trainer Anja Garcia. Fitness+ will also introduce Group Workouts with SharePlay, where users can work out with up to 32 people at once to keep each other motivated.

“Whether you’re just getting started, trying something new, or switching up how you train your mind and body, the amazing and welcoming Fitness+ trainer team is here to help users live a healthy lifestyle, no matter where they are in their fitness journey,” said Jay Blahnik, Apple’s senior director of Fitness Technologies.

“We are excited to be introducing new workouts that bring Fitness+ users more options to stay active and motivated, plus immersive guided Meditation experiences that are approachable for all and easy to fit into your day. With new ways to work out together or alone – and coming to more countries later this year – we can’t wait to welcome even more people to experience Fitness+.”

Full details for all the new Apple announcements, as well as pricing, upgrade options, availability and other related technical and environmental data, are available from Apple.

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