Apple unveils new iPhone 14 Pro models, Watch Ultra, plus more
Image credit: Apple
The California-based firm's annual autumn event included world debuts for the new iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max; a standard iPhone 14; the Apple Watch Ultra tough timepiece; re-engineered AirPods Pro, and more.
The special virtual event – this year called 'Far Out' – was streamed yesterday evening (Wednesday 7 September) from Apple Park, the firm's Cupertino headquarters.
Apple used the event to unveil the latest models of its flagship devices in the form of the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max, describing this as "the most advanced Pro lineup ever", although arguably not without good reason.
The smartphones will debut a new feature dubbed the 'Dynamic Island' – a new design that introduces an intuitive way to experience iPhone, with relevant context-appropriate content presented – and the 'Always-On' display, so the user doesn't need to tap or lift their phone to check notifications (lying the phone face down will turn the screen off completely).
Powered by A16 Bionic – claimed to be the fastest chip in any smartphone – iPhone 14 Pro also brings with it a new pro camera system, with the first-ever 48MP main camera on iPhone, featuring a quad-pixel sensor, and Photonic Engine, an enhanced image pipeline designed to dramatically improve low-light photos.
The phones also include emergency situation-specific features such as Emergency SOS via satellite and Crash Detection for location by emergency services in the unfortunate event of a vehicle accident.
Four new colourways will be available: deep purple, silver, gold and space black, each iteration of iPhone getting its own colours. Pre-orders for iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max begin on Friday 9 September, with in-store availability due a week later.
Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, said: “Our customers count on their iPhone every day and with iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max we’re delivering more advancements than any other iPhone. iPhone 14 Pro introduces a camera system that empowers every user – from the casual user to the professional – to take their best photos and video, and innovative new technologies like the Always-On display and the Dynamic Island, which offers new interactions for notifications and activities.
“Groundbreaking safety capabilities bring users even more security, offering help when they need it most. And with the incredibly powerful and efficient A16 Bionic chip and all-day battery life, this is the best iPhone yet.”
A slew of other new features and enhancements also accompany the release of Apple's iPhone 14 Pro range: full and exhaustive detail is available online.
The standard iPhone handset was also given the 14 update treatment, with some of the same tech spec as its Pro brethren, such as Crash Detection, although not the Dynamic Island feature. The headline features for the iPhone 14 are primarily a new dual-camera system and what Apple hails as "the best battery life on iPhone".
The iPhone 14 Plus also introduces a new larger 6.7-inch size to join the regular 6.1-inch design in the range. Both models are powered by Apple's own A15 Bionic chip with a 5-core GPU for stellar performance and efficiency and with privacy and security built in.
The upgraded camera system offers new main and front TrueDepth cameras, plus the Ultra Wide camera, and the same Photonic Engine as the Pro range.
Body colours for the iPhone 14 range are midnight, blue, starlight, purple (not deep purple), and the ever-popular (PRODUCT)RED. Pre-order and instore dates are mostly the same as with the Pro range – 9 and 16 September – only with a slight delay for the new Plus size, arriving 7 October. Earlier this year it was reported that Apple was grappling with supply issues for components, mostly the camera and the screen, for this larger handset.
“With the new, larger 6.7-inch display on iPhone 14 Plus, users can enjoy more content onscreen when browsing the web and even more text,” said Joswiak. “Both phones have a powerful new main camera with a huge leap in low-light performance, advanced connectivity capabilities with 5G and eSIM, and the incredible performance of A15 Bionic, which helps enable even better battery life. All of this, tightly integrated with iOS 16, makes iPhone more essential than ever.”
New Apple Watches were also introduced, including the Series 8 and an all-new Apple Watch Ultra, a rugged, extra-tough watch "inspired by the most extreme activities".
This larger watch has a 49mm titanium case and flat sapphire front crystal for the biggest, brightest Apple Watch display to date. The Ultra is designed for endurance, exploration and adventure enthusiasts, with a number of features specifically designed to this end built in. New customisable watch faces, such as the Wayfinder face, feature a compass and the greater real estate allows more 'complications' (widgets) to be shown simultaneously.
The Apple Watch Ultra also has a new customisable 'Action' button in "high-contrast international orange" that gives the wearer quick physical control for a range of functions. In addition, the Ultra's Digital Crown has a larger diameter and coarser grooves, plus the side button standing proud from the case, so that they can be handled more readily while wearing gloves, e.g. when high up a mountain.
Apple Watch Ultra has been designed to offer the best battery life of any Apple Watch, reaching up to 36 hours during normal use, and a new low-power setting can extend this to almost 60 hours – obviously useful if you're going to be away from civilisation for an extended period of time.
Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer, said: “Inspired by explorers and athletes from around the world, we created an entirely new category of Apple Watch designed for new and extreme environments – it’s the most rugged and capable Apple Watch yet.
“Apple Watch Ultra is a versatile tool that empowers users to push their boundaries with adventure, endurance, and exploration.”
Apple Watch Ultra is available to order now.
Rather less dramatic, while probably holding more general appeal, the new Apple Watch Series 8 was also presented yesterday, along with a new Apple Watch SE.
The Apple Watch Series 8 retains its predecessor's large 'Always-On' Retina display and crack-resistant front crystal. Building on the Watch's best-in-class health and safety features such as the ECG app and fall detection, the 8 introduces temperature-sensing capabilities (e.g. for women to track their menstrual cycle), retrospective ovulation estimates, Crash Detection, and international roaming.
Meanwhile, the new, more affordable, Apple Watch SE again focuses on the core Apple Watch experience, including activity tracking, high and low heart rate notifications, and Emergency SOS, as well introducing the new Crash Detection feature and a completely redesigned back case that perfectly matches the three classic case finishes.
Both models will be powered by watchOS 9, which brings with it new and more customisable watch faces, an enhanced Workout app, sleep stages, a first-of-its-kind 'AFib History' feature, and an all-new Medications app.
Like the Ultra, Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch SE are available to order now.
“We hear from customers how Apple Watch helps them stay connected with loved ones, be more active and live healthier lives,” said Williams. “Apple Watch Series 8 reinforces our commitment in these areas with the addition of pioneering technology, while Apple Watch SE brings advanced core features at a new starting price. Powered by watchOS 9, the best smartwatches deliver more capabilities than ever before.”
Also announced at the special event was the second generation of AirPods Pro, inevitably dubbed "the most advanced AirPods ever".
Featuring a new H2 chip, Apple claims this allows the earbuds to "unlock breakthrough audio performance", although this is more about improvements to the Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency modes, rather than to the sonic qualities of the audio reproduction itself. The improvements are also touted to improve Apple Music's 'Spatial Audio' offering.
Other upgrades include touch control for media playback and volume adjustments directly from the stem, longer battery life, a new charging case, and an additional ear tip size for better fit options. The new AirPods Pro (aka '2nd generation') will be available to order from 9 September, with availability in stores from 23 September.
“AirPods revolutionised the wireless headphone category with an innovative design and incredible sound quality. With the new AirPods Pro, Apple raises the bar once again,” said Bob Borchers, Apple’s vice president of worldwide product marketing. “The new AirPods Pro deliver even better sound quality, a more immersive listening experience with Personalised Spatial Audio and transformative audio features like Adaptive Transparency. With up to double the noise-cancelling power of their predecessor, the world’s bestselling wireless headphones just got even better.”
Countering the negative environmental perception around wireless earbuds – with their perceived short shelf-life and somewhat 'disposable' nature – Apple notes that AirPods Pro use 100 per cent recycled rare earth elements in all the magnets and will also – for the first time – use 100 per cent recycled gold in the plating of multiple printed circuit boards. The case also uses 100 per cent recycled tin in the solder of the main logic board and 100 per cent recycled aluminium in the hinge.
Apple has a stated goal to completely remove plastic from all packaging by 2025 and while the company is already carbon neutral for its global corporate operations, it aims to be 100 per cent carbon neutral across its entire manufacturing supply chain and all product life cycles by 2030. By that time, every Apple device sold – from component manufacturing, assembly, transport, customer use, charging, all the way through recycling and material recovery – is intended to have net-zero climate impact.
Full details about all the announcements from Apple's 'Far Out' event are available online.
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