The fall Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) event held few surprises, raising questions about whether AAPL can inspire consumers to upgrade this round.
Apple took the wraps off the new iPhone 7, Apple Watch Series 2 and AirPods, offering incremental upgrades all around.
The fall’s most anticipated tech event has wrapped up for another year, as Apple finally ended months of speculation to reveal a basket of products.
Wednesday’s event was packed with new product reveals, demos and previews. Apple CEO Tim Cook & Co. showed off audio accessories, iOS games, a re-vamped Apple Music and versions of Apple’s various operating systems — all arriving this fall.
But the iPhone 7 and Apple Watch 2 were the stars of the show.
iPhone 7: Yup, the Headphone Jack is Dead
We’ve heard about it for months, and the rumors were confirmed. The iPhone 7 has no headphone jack. Apple says not to worry, though. It’s including a pack-in Lightning-to-3.5 mm adapter so you can plug in those old headphones if you really must.
Other updates include a dual lens camera on the iPhone 7 Plus with optical zoom, a big boost in processing and graphics power, IP67 water resistance, 32 GB as the new base storage and a new Home button. You can get the full details on our iPhone 7/iPhone 7 Plus feature.
Apple Watch Series 2
IDC released figures Tuesday showing Apple Watch sales took a dive in Q2, slumping by 56.7% compared to 2015.
So Wednesday’s announcement of the follow-up Apple Watch Series 2 — could they not have simply called it the Apple Watch 2? — arrives just in time and should help sales recover. The form factor looks exactly the same as the original. However, this time around there’s a new White Ceramic option replacing the gold Edition.
New for the Apple Watch Series 2 is a waterproof designation to 50 meters, a built-in GPS, a display that’s twice as bright as the first generation and a snappy new CPU to drive higher performance apps. With the ability to track swimming and a GPS that accurately tracks movement without having to carry an iPhone adding to its fitness cred, it’s well-positioned to take on competition from Fitbit Inc (NYSE:FIT), whose activity trackers have been gaining smartwatch-like capabilities.
Also helping to take on fitness tracker rivals is a new collaborative offering from Nike Inc (NYSE:NKE), the Apple Watch Nike+, featuring exclusive Nike watch faces and sports bands.
In a further boost to its smartwatch sales ambitions, AAPL is keeping the original Apple Watch (now the Series 1) as an entry-level model. Pricing starts at $269 even though Apple is updating it with the new dual-core CPU from the Series 2.
We heard about Apple filing to sell “AirPods” a few days before the big event, and now we have conformation that they are exactly what we suspected: Bluetooth wireless earbuds.
Well, Apple says they use a custom W1 wireless chip, but beneath the marketing-speak, that appears to be Bluetooth (eliminating the standard jack then also offering high end wireless earbuds that are incompatible with everything but the latest Apple devices probably would have been pushing it too far).
The AirPods have five-hour battery life, include a charging case and feature Siri integration. And you can listen to music on them. Apple describes them as “magical” in a generally over-the-top series of zingers designed to discredit the headphone jack.
Pricing and Release Dates
- Apple says the iPhone 7 will start at $649, and are available for preorder starting Sept. 9, with retail availability for Sept. 16.
- The Apple Watch Series 2 (including the Nike+ models) starts at $369, with that fancy White Ceramic option starting at $1,249. They are available for preorder starting Sept. 9, with retail availability for Sept. 16.
- AirPods are $159 and will come out in late October.
- The new operating system releases arrive through September, starting with iOS 10 and watchOS 3 on the 13th, followed by macOS Sierra on the 20th, then tvOS 10.
Apple needs the iPhone 7 to be a hit. However, with what amounts to an incremental, lookalike update with the loss of the headphone jack causing controversy, the outlook for this launch wasn’t exactly great. Still, Samsung (OTCMKTS:SSNLF) did hand Apple a gift with its exploding Galaxy Note 7 recall.
Preorders of the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus start on Friday, so we’ll soon know if Apple was able to capitalize on its rival’s misfortune. We’ll also have a pretty good idea of whether the Apple Watch Series 2 has the features to revive AAPL’s smartwatch game.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.