This story is part of the Apple Event , our comprehensive coverage of the latest news from Apple headquarters.
Last year, Apple chose 5G wireless technology as one of the key new features of its iPhone 12, which promised faster downloads and more reliability. With the next iPhone this year, Apple may be looking to the sky for its next big breakthrough.
The tech giant is expected to offer new iPhones on September 14. which could include technology to make emergency phone calls even without a cellular signal. The new feature, which will reportedly rely on a chip designed to talk to satellites, may not arrive this year, according to a previous Bloomberg report. Regardless, the new iPhone is expected to continue to rely on 5G wireless technology for everyday connectivity.
If announced this year, the new feature could help Apple’s latest iPhone stand out even though it will look similar to last year’s device save for a rumored smaller notch for the front camera and sensors. Other rumored features include an improved camera , a better screen, and potentially new colors .
“The challenge is to get the same level of attention and create a cycle of updates,” said Carolina Milanesi, analyst at Creative Strategies. But, he said, Apple has the knack of creating something to get fans excited about.
An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment before the company’s event.
Read more: Apple Event Sept 14: How to Watch the Long-awaited iPhone 13, Apple Watch 7 Launches Live
This year’s launch will mark another test for Apple, which already has a billion iPhones in active use around the world. And the popularity of the phone continues to grow. Last year’s iPhone 12 was so successful that it pushed Apple’s sales and profits to new records, despite the device launching amid one of the worst health and economic crises in a century. The iPhone 13’s job will be to help Apple maintain momentum, even with a pandemic that stubbornly won’t go away.
Historically, the hype around new iPhones seems muted when the exterior design remains the same. Apple acknowledges this somewhat, adding an “S” to the name of these iPhones with internal changes, beginning with the 2009 iPhone 3GS, which the company originally said stood for “speed.” And while some critics might say that the S stands for “snooze,” Apple has used these iPhones out of the year to introduce new marquee features.
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When it launched a decade ago, the iPhone 4S featured Siri’s voice assistant . The iPhone 5S, in 2013, featured the Touch ID fingerprint sensor . The iPhone XS offered a ” markedly improved dual camera ,” wrote CNET critic Scott Stein on its debut in 2018. (But it was the iPhone XR, released the same year, that stole the show, with an attractive cheaper price. in exchange for a lower quality screen and camera).
It doesn’t matter if Apple calls its next iPhone iPhone 12S or iPhone 13, as it seems the internet has already christened it. What will matter is whether Apple can pack enough into the device to hit the mark after one of its biggest iPhone launches last year.
The good news for the company is that it already seems to have an advantage. A survey by SellCell, a phone reseller, found that 44% of current iPhone owners plan to upgrade to one of the four reported iPhone 13 models when they launch. That alone could amount to tens of millions of iPhones.
Read more: iPhone 13 – Sleek color options and a new design may be revealed at Apple’s event on September 14
“Apple does an incredible job creating successful products, seemingly year after year, like a pop band,” said Bob O’Donnell, research analyst at Technalysis. And like any band, he added, some releases may not reach the general population in the same way that a hit album does. “They are still good, and they are still important to the fans. That’s probably what we’ll see with the iPhone 13. “
Apple Watch Boost
The Apple Watch has become more than just an accessory for the iPhone.
Part of Apple’s success has been thanks to complementary products. like the Apple Watch , which starts at $ 279, and the company’s AirPods Wireless Headphones , which start at $ 159. That ecosystem of interconnected products and services has helped create a giant industry.
So it’s worth noting that while the iPhone may not have a lot of physical changes this year, the Apple Watch is reportedly going to.
The leaks suggest the Apple Watch 7 , as it may be called, will come in 41mm and 45mm sizes, slightly above the 40mm and 44mm being offered today. That slight increase is expected to account for a new flat-edge design, marking a significant change from the curved edges that Apple has. used since the device was launched in 2015 . Reports from Bloomberg and Apple leakers suggest that screen bezels can also shrink, allowing for a more visible screen area.
Although the Apple Watch does not sell as well as the iPhone (Apple does not even publish the individual income of the device), it reportedly sells better than the entire production of the Swiss watch industry. And it has become a key halo device for iPhones, with Apple saying that 75% of shoppers are buying their first Apple Watch.
“Traditional Swiss watchmakers like Swatch and Tissot are losing the smartwatch wars,” wrote Neil Mawston, an analyst at Strategy Analytics, in a report last year. “Apple offers a better product through deeper retail channels and appeals to younger consumers who increasingly want digital wristbands.”
Last year it was all about 5G for Apple.
5G keeps making waves
Apple watchers saw a safe bet with the iPhone 12 when it launched last year. The tech giant was finally embracing ultra-fast 5G wireless technology, playing off a culmination of years of hype from mobile operators . Now, a year later, Apple CEO Tim Cook said he believes that last year’s record iPhone sales were just the beginning of 5G wireless upgrades.
“We are just in the early days of 5G,” Cook said during a conference call with analysts this summer. One piece of information he pointed out was that people around the world and in the US still don’t have easy access to 5G signals. That gives people less reason to upgrade now and potentially more reason to buy when the signals hit.
While carriers have 5G coverage across the country, speeds are often disappointing relative to ad marketing. Consumers have not been too quick to adopt the technology and many people still do not have the new wireless signals available around their homes. But operators have been constantly updating their networks, improving on those mediocre first experiences. Both the iPhone 12 and its newer sibling will benefit from the upcoming changes.
Satellite connectivity could also offer an added incentive to help the iPhone stand out from the rest. It remains to be seen if this is a regular benefit or more of an emergency use feature, as rumors suggest.
What is certain is that Apple will make sure to promote some feature of the iPhone 13 as a breakthrough that makes the device the next must-have product. But with a similar design and an S-type year, that could be a tough sell, even when it comes to Apple’s most loyal fan.