This week was a big one for Apple fans, as the tech giant unveiled its latest offerings to the world. Viewers got their first looks at the next generation of iPhones, smartwatches and more.
Unlike previous editions, this year’s event felt more evolutionary than revolutionary – while there were certainly some interesting reveals, there wasn’t anything that is likely to be considered a seismic shift in the same way that previous events have.
But that’s not to say that it was bad. There was a ton to like about the offerings on show, including new Airpods, iCloud+, and a look at iOS17. But a few things definitely stood out.
Let’s get into the big headlines from the event.
Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2
With more than 100 million units sold since its launch in 2015, the Apple Watch has become a mainstay of the brand, and a defining article of the smartwatch sector at large. Last year, the range was expanded to include the Apple Watch Ultra, a beefier counterpart targeted squarely at those who treasure an adventurous lifestyle.
The 2023 watches look much the same as the 2022 editions at first glance, but add some new and updated tech to the formula.
Both smartwatches get the shiny new S9 chip, which promises to boost performance while enabling new features such as:
- Improved dictation
- Name Drop, which makes it easier to share contact information with nearby users
- Double Tap, which allow users to double tap the thumb and index fingers of their together to control the watch
Of these features, Double Tap is perhaps the most interesting – this control method is shared by the announced but not-yet-released Apple Vision Pro headset, possibly hinting at a unified gesture control standard in Apple’s future.
The new Apple Watch Ultra also comes with its own tricks, including a specially designed watch face for better at-a-glance activity tracking, and the brightest display ever put into an Apple product.
iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus
It wouldn’t be an Apple event without an appearance from the progenitor of the modern smartphone, the iPhone. And this year didn’t disappoint, with the unveiling of the all-new iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Max.
To compliment its tweaked matte design (in happy pastels, if you want), the iPhone 15 is full of minor tweaks that combine to offer a nice step up from last year’s effort:
- An A16 chip, which made its debut in last year’s iPhone 14 Pro
- An improved camera system, including a 48 megapixel camera and a touted improvement in its ability to capture colour and tone
- Dynamic Island, a feature previously exclusive to the iPhone 14 Pro line, now makes its way downstream to the standard iPhones
While none of these changes – or others, such as the precision Find My feature or improved screen – seem like much, together they combine to create a pleasing upgrade to the previous experience.
iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max
Apple’s current flagship pair, the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max come with every bell or whistle you could want, including an entirely new material: Titanium.
That’s right, where more common phones might sport aluminium or stainless steel, these phones now boast grade 5 titanium, a first for an Apple phone. The titanium alloy used allows for a much lighter (but still strong) design.
The new A17 chip also makes this the most powerful pair of iPhones ever, with the grunt needed to turn them into genuine options for handheld gaming, while an on-board Neural Engine should make machine learning applications snappier than ever.
Finally, the phones come with a camera setup designed to go toe-to-toe with the world’s best, including a whopping 5x telephoto lens using prism-based trickery.
Big Green Apples
A major thread throughout the event was sustainability; Apple committing to full carbon-neutrality across its entire product line by 2030. And we even got to see the first tangible proof of this promise in the Apple Watch Series 9, which the company claims is its first fully carbon neutral device.
Other measures intended to reduce the environmental impact of Apple’s products include:
- Greater reliance on sea shipping, as opposed to air
- The extensive use of recycled aluminium across its products
- A move away from animal-based products in accessories such as watch straps and phone covers
- Eliminating the use of plastic in packaging
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg (so to speak).
Gone in a Flash of Lightning
As exciting as many of the announcements were, perhaps the buzziest was a comparatively small one: The imminent death of the Lightning cable standard.
In use since 2012, the Lightning cable was always a less-than-ideal solution, particularly as USB-C became the standard across the rest of the tech ecosystem in the years that followed. Not only was Lightning outclassed by USB-C in performance, the lack of a unified approach to cable standards by Apple led to no small amount of frustration amongst its faithful fans.
Now, the company is finally joining the rest of the world in the move to USB-C on all its products, simplifying cable management for all of us. Yes, this move was at least partly prompted by a rapidly approaching European Union deadline for all mobile devices to move to USB-C as a common standard.
But that doesn’t mean we’re not relieved anyway.
When They’re Hitting
So, the big question: When does South Africa get our turn with Apple’s latest and greatest? Unfortunately, not all is clear. The Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 have yet to receive dates for a South African release.
On the plus side, the iPhone 15 and its brethren have a clear timeline. The handsets are open for pre-order from 22 September, with full release coming on 29 September.
But why commit to an iPhone 15 when the next one will be out any minute? With Rentoza, you’ll be able to get your iPhone fix, and when you’re done you can upgrade to something else. Or even downgrade, your choice.
Because commitment is messy. Just Rentoza it.