This September’s Apple (AAPL) media event just wrapped up, and as expected, the company took the veil off the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.
Apple also proved it’s not about to give up on the living room, with a new Apple TV that plays video games and uses Siri voice control.
Another long-rumored AAPL device — the super-sized iPad Pro — also showed up as part of the “monster announcements” Tim Cook promised to start the show.
We’ll examine each:
New iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus
If there was one thing we were sure of from this event, it was new iPhones. And AAPL did not disappoint, unveiling the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.
As is Apple’s habit with “S” models, they look visually similar to last year’s iPhones, but incorporate significant hardware and feature upgrades, namely …
- 3D Touch (Force Touch) support
- Higher-resolution 12 MP iSight camera with 4K video support
- Faster second-generation Touch ID sensor
- The fastest iOS processor yet in the A9
- Stronger 7000 series aluminum
With 23 LTE bands and both LTE and Wi-Fi twice as fast as before, the iPhone 6s is being pushed as a traveler’s best friend. And for those wishing to journey from Android, Apple is publishing an app to automate the process of exporting data from an Android smartphone to iPhone.
Tim Cook described the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus as the most advanced smartphones in the world and they need to be with cheap smartphones like those from China’s Xiaomi getting better, less expensive and more aggressively marketed.
AAPL also added a new color option, in Rose Gold-colored aluminum.
New iPhones will be available for pre-order in the same price and configuration as last year’s model (in other words, starting at $199 on contract). The iPhone 5s becomes the new bargain iPhone. Apple is also offering its own monthly installment iPhone upgrade program, with a new iPhone each year, starting at $32 per month — putting it in competition with carriers.
The iPhone 6s launches on Sept. 25, while iOS 9 launches Sept. 16.
New iPad Pro
“The biggest news in iPad since iPad.”
That’s how Apple described the iPad Pro as the device finally made its debut.
The most powerful iPad ever, it’s also the biggest with a 12.9-inch display and 5.6 million pixels. The iPad Pro is aimed squarely at the enterprise and professional market where Microsoft (MSFT) has been making headway with its Surface Pro — although the big iPad’s gaming and movie viewing capabilities were also featured.
Powered by the new A9X chip, the iPad Pro is touted as having desktop-class performance, and AAPL says it’s faster than 80% of portable PCs.
And like the Surface tablet, Apple is bringing out a detachable smart keyboard and a stylus (the Apple Pencil).
Is Apple gunning for Microsoft?
Well, part of the iPad Pro demo was a presentation by the VP of Microsoft’s Office team, so they actually seem to be playing nice.
AAPL says the iPad Pro will be available in November, with a starting price of $799. Apple’s also releasing a new iPad Mini 4.
New Apple TV
With the Apple Watch launch out of the way, there is probably no single AAPL product that’s been written about as much lately as the Apple TV.
Apple was a living room streaming pioneer and leader, building the Apple TV into a billion-dollar business before seemingly becoming distracted and ignoring it for the past several years. As Google’s (GOOG,GOOGL) Chromecast and then Amazon’s (AMZN) Fire TV overtook the Apple TV, AAPL failed to update its hardware, finally resorting to discounting the old Apple TV boxes in a halfhearted attempt to avoid being relegated to has-been status.
AAPL finally (finally!) took the wraps off a new Apple TV today, promising to make this a very interesting holiday shopping season. Besides streaming video, the new Apple TV plays video games and has its own App Store (drawing on AAPL’s strong relationship with iOS game developers), it’s the central hub for HomeKit automation, and it incorporates both touch control and Siri voice control. Universal apps let developers release a single-purchase app for the Apple TV, and iOS mobile devices so consumers pay once to play everywhere.
Search has been expanded to include not just iTunes, but also other app-based services like Hulu and Netflix (NFLX).
At $149, it’s a jump in price compared to the previous $99 entry, but AAPL is keeping the previous-generation Apple TV in the lineup as a cheap streamer option.
The new Apple TV will be taking on the streaming competition from Amazon, Google and Roku, and its gaming chops have the potential to make it a less expensive alternative to game consoles, especially the family-friendly Nintendo (NTDOY) Wii U.
The new Apple TV goes on sale starting in October for $149, with a $199 version that doubles storage to 64GB.
Apple Watch News
We’ll end at the start: Apple kicked off today’s event with an Apple Watch update.
AAPL noted the smartwatch had passed the 10,000 apps milestone and hit a 97% customer satisfaction rating. This was followed by a demo of new WatchOS 2 apps, including AirStrip on Apple Watch being used to monitor pregnancies at home and in the hospital.
New Apple Watch bands include a Project Red version and a partnership with Hermes — with new leather bands and custom watch faces. AAPL also is offering the cheaper Apple Watch Sport models in Gold and Rose Gold colored aluminum.
New Apple Watch models and straps are shipping today, and WatchOS 2 arrives Sept. 16.
Last year’s September Apple event was a big deal for the iPhone (literally, as the Apple smartphones finally caved to consumer demand for larger screens).
This year’s was about adding the polish to keep the iPhone on top, keeping the Apple Watch momentum going and kickstarting the struggling iPad division. And the new Apple TV proved AAPL is still serious about the living room.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.