Apple Inc. will once again hold prices steady as it debuts its new iPhone 14 line, which will feature free satellite connectivity for two years.
Despite expectations that Apple
Outside of the pricing news, Apple’s biggest iPhone 14 feature announcement concerned the introduction of emergency satellite services for the new devices. Apple was long rumored to be exploring satellite connectively for the iPhone, and that feature finally emerged Wednesday, as Apple announced that iPhone 14 owners will be able to send simple texts in emergency situations if they don’t have WiFi or cellular connectivity.
Apple plans to offer the services for free for the first two years of iPhone 14 ownership, though shares of satellite partner Globalstar Inc.
The entire iPhone lineup is receiving emergency SOS functions leveraging satellite connectivity. While communicating complex messages via satellite can be difficult using hardware like the iPhone, the company tried to simplify the process by giving users questions to answer about their emergency situations when they’re in need of satellite communications.
A company representative said during Apple’s presentation that “It took years to make this vision a reality.” The feature will launche in the U.S. and Canada in November.
Apple is adding a new phone to its lineup in the iPhone 14 Plus, a 6.7-inch smartphone that is larger than the 6.1-inch iPhone 14. The company teased enhanced camera functions, including a larger sensor and a faster aperture that will better capture color. Apple said the camera will have a 49% improvement in lowlight capture and better Night Mode capabilities. The front-facing camera will also bring improvements in lowlight capture, as well as auto-focusing that the company says will generate better selfies. Apple is also adding an “action mode” for video taken while running or otherwise on the move.
The iPhone 14 will support eSIMs, so users can connect multiple wireless plans to a single phone. U.S. models will do away with the SIM tray so that users won’t have to deal with physical SIM cards. The iPhone 14 will have crash detection, just like the Apple Watch Series 8 line.
The iPhone Pro line will, in a sense, actually lose a feature: The infamous “notch.” Current iPhone users are used to seeing a black cutout at the top of their devices in the area where the facial scanner and front-facing camera are housed, but Apple plans to make that area “dynamic” with the new iPhone line. That means the area — which Apple is calling a “dynamic island” — will change sizes and shapes depending on the type of notification or function.
An Apple representative said during the event that the design was “sure to become iconic” and that “each alert has its own personality.”
Apple also refreshed its Pro lineup, though it’s keeping sizing the same. The iPhone 14 Pro will come in a 6.1-inch configuration, while the iPhone 14 Pro Max will feature a 6.7-inch screen.
Apple promises thinner borders and a brighter screen on these new phones, which will have an always-on display for the first time, allowing people to see the time without raising their phones or tapping on the screen.
The iPhone Pro functions leverage the company’s new A16 chip, which Apple said focuses on enhancements in power efficiency, display, and camera functions. The devices will have a 48-megapixel camera and a larger sensor than what’s on the current Pro models. Apple says the camera features will enhance lowlight capture, and that the phones will have “all-day” battery life. They’ll also offer emergency satellite connectivity, like the iPhone 14 line.
The iPhone 14 Pro starts at $999, while the iPhone 14 Pro Max will begin at $1,099. Those prices are consistent with last year’s models, despite expectations that Apple would boost the price by about $100.
Preorders for the iPhone 14 begin Sept. 9, with the iPhone 14, iPhone Pro and iPhone Max expected to arrive on Sept. 16; the iPhone 14 Plus is expected to hit stores on Oct. 6. The iPhone 14 begins at $799, the same price as last year, while the iPhone 14 Plus will start at $899.
Apple led off the event with news on three new Apple Watch models and updated AirPods.
Apple said that temperature sensing on the new Apple Watch Series 8 will be helpful for women’s health as it can offer a retrospective estimate of when someone ovulated. The watch will also provide updates on whether a user’s menstrual cycle deviated.
Apple noted that the health data is encrypted end-to-end so that the company isn’t able to see the data, a nod to concerns about law enforcement attempting to obtain data about women’s menstrual cycles after the Supreme Court ended the constitutional right to an abortion earlier this year.
The new smartwatch will also add safety features meant for car crashes. The device will aim to detect the forces of a crash with a new accelerometer and other technology. Apple is also adding low-power mode to the watch, which will disable features like the always-on display and the always-on workout detector, enabling users to conserve battery life.
The Apple Watch Series 8 will be offered in four colors — midnight, starlight, silver and red — as well as three stainless steel finishes. The Series 8 will start at $399 with just GPS and $499 when adding cellular. Consumers can preorder today, with availability beginning Sept. 16.
Apple also unveiled the Apple Watch Ultra, a new smartwatch model. The company said the device, which features a 49-millimeter case, has a new design relative to existing models and offers functions for scuba divers and other adventure lovers.
The watch has a new action button that supports “quick physical control for a range of functions.” The digital crown has been updated as well, and Apple said that the watch is optimal for those wearing gloves. It will feature a second speaker for users looking to make outdoor calls in windy conditions, and cellular connectivity will be featured in all models. All Ultra devices will cost $799, and users can preorder the device today before it becomes available Sept. 23.
The company also announced a new Apple Watch SE in midnight, silver, and starlight that is 20% faster than the previous model. It will start at $249 with GPS and $299 with cellular connectivity.
Apple’s event brought updates to the AirPods Pro as well, with the new earbuds featuring a chip meant to support Apple’s Spatial Audio, which the company said delivers a more immersive listening experience. They will also provide enhanced noise-canceling functions versus their predecessor.
The new AirPods Pro offer more listening time, at six hours per charge, and they’ll have touch sensors for volume control. Users will be able to use their Apple Watch chargers to juice up the earphones, in addition to the traditional charger. They’ll cost $249 and orders open Sept. 9 for Sept. 23 availability.
Apple did not show off its expected next product category, a virtual-reality headset, as it instead focused on updates for products that have already proved successful. Those hopeful Apple will wade into the headset market will likely have to wait until later in 2022 or early 2023 to see what the company has up its sleeve.
Apple stock closed up 0.9% Wednesday, after dipping into the red as the event began. Shares have declined 12.2% so far this year, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average