What Apple showed at the September 2023 Keynote: iPhone 15 (now titanium), new Apple Watch and the end of the Lightning era
At September 2023 Keynote Apple introduced a new generation of iPhone and smart watches Apple Watch. The main “surprise” was known long before the “day X”: the iPhone (and along with it the case of headphones AirPods) really got a USB-C connector. Some other innovations have been announced, but is there anything really bright, significant and innovative among them?
Following the tradition established in the pandemic times, the presentation was in the form of a broadcast of a previously recorded video, and now it is available worldwide, including Russian viewers, on YouTube and the official website of the company.
Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2
Let’s start, like the speakers of Apple, with smart watches. For several years now, the manufacturer from Cupertino has not changed the design of the model. Except that it adds new colors of the case and experiments with the design of straps. The ninth generation is no exception.
Neither in terms of appearance (if you do not count the color/strap), nor in terms of the set of sensors, the watch has not changed compared to last year’s version. If we talk only about the “hardware” component, the main innovation is a new single-chip system Apple S9. The manufacturer promises maximum smoothness of animation and other advantages, but even getting the model on hand, it will be difficult to check this. Although we believe that everything works smoothly. As well as previous generations at the time of their release, yes.
Much more should be noticeable another innovation: the screen has received twice as high maximum brightness – 2000 nits (that is 2000 cd/m²). Probably, this is relevant for southern regions, where there is a lot of bright sun. Although the previous 1000 nits – also a lot, and doubtful that at such brightness even with aggressive external lighting user could face any problems. Anyway, let it be.
And yet the main change – in another. And here we are talking not only about hardware, but about hardware-software innovation. This is the appearance of a new gesture control: double tap each other with your thumb and index finger. This way you can turn off the alarm clock, end a phone call, and do many other things. This is ensured by analyzing data from accelerometer, gyroscope and optical sensor.
The main question is how the system will separate conscious movement from accidental. But we want to believe that Apple developers have taught their product to recognize movement accurately enough to correctly determine the user’s intentions.
Let’s note new color modifications and new strap options. We were especially impressed by Nike bracelets colors. We admit, here designers really tried hard.
In addition to the base model, Apple also updated the flagship Ultra. But here the improvements are rather formal and cosmetic. The peak brightness is now 3000 nits, double tap control is naturally also supported, and the promised battery life is 36 hours in standard mode. Although, to be honest, the further, the more obvious how much Apple lags behind competitors in this part, whose watches of comparable functionality and size work for a week and longer.
Oh yes, we also need to say that Apple now proudly notes the “carbon neutrality” of its watches: this means that there is no carbon dioxide emissions in the process of their production.
The most amusing, or rather – cringy moment of the presentation was a scene with “Mother Nature” – a lush black lady who passionately interrogates employees and Tim Cook himself about environmental improvements. And they, like schoolchildren, obediently report (save your eyes and ears!). All this lasts a long time, a long time, a long time … No, we are not against planting forests in Paraguay, but against the background of the lack of really bright product innovations, this looks like an attempt to divert attention. Moreover, planting forests in Paraguay cannot be checked by a simple user, but the lack of noticeable innovations in fresh devices is obvious.
And this applies primarily to Apple Watch. There are, of course, some other small things – for example, if you turn on the search for a smartphone on your watch, then the watch shows you literally in meters how far you are from the phone and whether you are moving in the right direction to it. In addition to this, new modular dials appeared, diving depth logs, improvements in cycling workouts … But all this together hardly pulls even a numbered update of the OS, not to mention a new product.
iPhone 15 / 15 Pro
The main innovation of the announced generation is the replacement of the connector with USB-C. This change, as you know, is forced: Apple had to abandon the proprietary Lightning under pressure from the European Union, otherwise the company’s smartphones would be completely closed to the European market. The Americans resisted as best they could, but in the end they went for an undesirable step for them.
It was undesirable, first of all, for commercial reasons. Using Lightning, Apple forced users to buy branded accessories at inflated prices. And although, of course, there were plenty of unofficial options on sale, their purchase always carried some risks – for example, after another update, charging could simply stop working. Well and secondly: abandoning Lightning in iPhone inevitably entails changes in the design of other products using the same connector. And this is an additional cost. But nothing can be done about it. And here Apple together with iPhone 15 announces new cases for AirPods headphones (now – with USB-C connector) and wired headset with USB-C plug.
As always, there were nuances. The USB 3.1 Gen2 interface with data transfer speeds up to 10 Gbps is supported only by iPhone 15 Pro / Pro Max, while regular iPhone 15 / 15 Plus use USB 2.0. But in any case for the user only pluses in switching to USB-C. Even for those who exist exclusively in the apple ecosystem. After all, both Mac computers and iPad tablets have long used USB-C. And that means you won’t have to carry and keep extra cables at home anymore. And there will be no more problems when you need to ask someone for charging. That’s it, USB-C won completely: the last bastion fell.
What else is interesting about the new generation of iPhone?
Here Pro models are in a more advantageous position. They have one more (besides fast USB-C) undeniable trump card: titanium body.
This feature was given special attention at the presentation. Even the fact that a similar material is used by the operating rover was mentioned. Well, in the case of iPhone 15 Pro / Pro Max titanium provides not only exceptional strength but also impressive lightness. It is stated that this is the lightest iPhone in the Pro line.
The shape of the body has also changed slightly – pay attention to rounding edges. However, this will hardly be very noticeable from side view but owner will definitely feel different.
And another design innovation: replacing sound switch lever with Action Button – a button that user can assign different actions to when pressed including turning off sound.
It is located above volume buttons and this solution seems quite controversial as surely at first owner will confuse Action Button with power button which is on other edge. On other hand idea of customizing functionality of this control element and letting user decide how to use it makes sense. Someone may find it more important to quickly turn on camera than turn off sound. Or launch translator. Well and so on. Let’s see how it settles down.
Among other important features of iPhone 15 Pro / Pro Max – traditionally new version of SoC (3-nanometer Apple A17 Pro), main camera module 48 MP, five-fold zoom with telephoto lens and – most intriguing – ability to shoot 3D video for later viewing on Apple Vision Pro. For this two cameras are used simultaneously and in principle there is nothing fantastic in idea.
However manufacturer suspiciously little told about this possibility mentioning it literally “through comma” and not giving any technical details. In what format and resolution will video be? How can it be edited outside iPhone? In general all this needs to be checked in practice and such option will appear not soon – even if sanctions are not taken into account. After all mixed reality headset Apple Vision Pro has not yet gone on sale.
What of this is there for younger models of iPhone 15? Main camera 48 MP zoom (though 2× not 5×) new chip (though A16 which was in last generation of “pros” not A17 Pro) dynamic notch Dynamic Island again inherited from iPhone 14 Pro / Pro Max. And – yes new pink color (hello “Barbie”!).
Not very impressive? Well, what are you rich in. This is really one of most boring updates of iPhone let it be with such long-awaited (though again not accentuated) innovation as abandoning Lightning.
Really loud innovations at presentation – one-two and counted. USB-C and 48 MP camera for all iPhone 15 titanium body and Action Button for iPhone 15 Pro / Pro Max control of watch by double tapping each other with thumb and index finger … That’s probably all. The rest – either cosmetic improvements or obvious things like new SoCs colors of case and straps for watches. It feels like Apple is going along beaten track and doesn’t know how to surprise anymore so its speakers led by Tim Cook just repeat same formulas (like “even further”) like a mantra from year to year but in reality there is nothing behind it.
True, it should be taken into account that not so long ago apple company presented Apple Vision Pro so there is no need to talk about lack of innovation yet. But apparently there was not enough strength for smartphones and watches and we still have not seen virtual reality headset. Of course new iPhone will still be bought (below – American prices for whole current line of smartphones). And in segment of smart watches Apple still holds leadership. But how long will reputation strength last?
What is the new feature of iPhone 15?
The new feature of iPhone 15 is the Dynamic Island, an innovative way to interact with important alerts and Live Activities. The Dynamic Island is a cutout on the top of the screen that can display different information depending on the context. For example, you can see the next direction in Maps, control music, get real-time updates on food delivery, ride sharing, sports scores, travel plans, and more. The Dynamic Island also adapts to the orientation of the phone, so you can use it in portrait or landscape mode. You can learn more about the Dynamic Island from this article.
- Apple unveils iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max – Apple Newsroom
- Apple debuts iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus – Apple Newsroom
- Apple introduces the advanced new Apple Watch Series 9 – Apple Newsroom
- Apple unveils Apple Watch Ultra 2 – Apple Newsroom
- Apple introduces new AirPods Pro (2nd generation) with USB‐C charging capabilities – Apple Newsroom
- Apple unveils its first carbon neutral products – Apple Newsroom
- Sell your old iPhone model online – iGotOffer
- Sell your old Apple Watch model online – iGotOffer
- Everything About Apple’s Products – The complete guide to all Apple consumer electronic products, including technical specifications, identifiers and other valuable information.
Apple iPhone 15 Event: Everything Revealed in 11 Minutes [Video]
Video uploaded by CNET on September 12, 2023