If you sat out the Apple Event this morning, I won’t blame you. As a rule, keynotes are not terribly exciting, even though Apple’s flair — and the debut of the new Steve Jobs Theater — help to make what typically amounts to a bunch of dudes standing on a black stage gesturing at large photos considerably more interesting. What we care about are the new devices, what they do, and how much they cost. So let’s skip the theatrics and get right to it.
The Apple Watch has been something of a punch line since its launch in 2015. The Series 3 appears as though it could correct some user complaints. The Heart Rate feature is getting performance upgrades, including the ability to measure resting and recovery heart rates.
The biggest change, though, is the addition of cellular functionality. What does that mean? The Apple Watch now enables Siri to talk back to you, and, best of all, it can be used as a phone. (Syncing with your iPhone’s phone number.) The dream of talking into your wrist like a Power Ranger is finally here. What was once a high-end Fitbit has transformed into a tiny computer.
Apple TV 4K
The 4K and HDR upgrades to Apple’s streaming box are significant, as is the ability to upgrade existing Apple TV purchases to 4K for free. Apple is also getting live sports, though details about which leagues and when were scarce. (You could really tell the makeup of the event’s audience by the profound lack of applause during this announcement.) The new Apple TV starts at $179 and can be preordered on September 15.
iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus
And this is what we’re here for! The new “cheap” (ha!) iPhones are the 8 and 8 Plus. They will be sold in three colorways: silver, space gray, and a pinkish hue that Apple insists on calling “gold.” (True to form, Apple has a strange history of defining “pink.”) These new phones have a new-and-improved screen that adjusts to ambient lighting, and more powerful speakers with deeper bass capability.
But here’s what really matters: This phone is faster, thanks to the new A11 Bionic chip, and it supports Apple’s new wireless charging. And, as per usual, there’s the improved camera. It has a 12-megapixel camera, and the 8 Plus has two 12-megapixel cameras that help support its new portrait-lighting features, which, honestly, look great.
Both phones were also built for AR, which should be moderately exciting for Pokémon Go enthusiasts. (Looking at you, Claire.) Perhaps most exciting for those of us who are really over clearing out our photos and podcast downloads is that they come in 64-gigabyte and 256-GB sizes. The iPhone will retail for $699, and the 8 Plus for $799. They can also be preordered on September 15.
That new wireless-charging feature in new iPhones extends to the Apple Watch Series 3 and Airpods (provided you upgrade to the optional case) as well. And Apple has a new mat that can house and charge all three. It’s not available till next year, though.
If you saw those images of the 8 and 8 Plus and were thinking “Wait, what, is that a home button?” then the announcement of the iPhone X either stoked your fears or made your dreams come true. Yes, that’s right, there is no home button. The X is all screen, edge to edge, glass on the front and back. The phone is water- and dust-resistant and comes in space gray and silver. The new OLED screen boasts a Super Retina HD Display, which is just like the Retina Display, but super. What makes it super? Glad you asked: a higher resolution (2436 x 1125) and 458 pixels per inch.
But how do you use it if there’s no button?! Well, like the old iPhone, you raise to wake, and tap on the screen (after unlocking with Face ID; read all about Face ID here) to unlock. Swiping from the bottom of the phone will now take you home. In addition to simply using your phone, the new facial-recognition feature brings Animoji, which is — you guessed it — emoji that you can animate with your face. It is simultaneously creepy and wonderful.
The iPhone X starts at $999, and is available for preorder on October 27. Behold: The era of the thousand-dollar iPhone is upon us.