Apple event recap — iPhone 13, Apple Watch 7, new iPad mini 6 and more
All the big Apple announcements in one place
Apple introduced two new iPads, four new iPhones and an updated Apple Watch during its Sept. 14 product event, while also leaving a few rumored products waiting in the wings.
Still, more than half-a-dozen product launches is nothing to sneeze at, especially when led by the iPhone 13 series. While there are plenty of similarities between this year's phones and the iPhone 12 models from 2020, there are significant enough changes — especially on the iPhone 13 Pro models — to tantalize people to upgrade.
Here's a closer look at what Apple announced at the Apple event and when you can get it.
iPhone 13: Like last year, Apple is introducing four phones, and they have the same prices as the iPhone 12 lineup — $699 for the iPhone 13 mini, $799 for the iPhone 13, $999 for the iPhone 13 Pro and $1,099 for the iPhone 13 Pro Max. But there are several upgrades here.
The phones have smaller notches as rumored, and major improvements to the cameras, including big sensors to let in more light. All four models support a new Cinematic mode which brings Hollywood-style rack focus to the videos you shoot. And it's all powered by the faster new A15 Bionic processor.
The iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max see the more substantive changes with improved telephoto lenses plus 120Hz ProMotion displays that adjust their refresh rate for smoother, more immersive experiences.
The best news is the promise of better battery life across the board, thanks to bigger batteries and other tweaks.
Apple Watch 7: Apple's new watch is arriving later this fall with a bigger, brighter screen, thinner display borders and faster charging (though not longer battery life, we're sad to say).
Another highlight is the crack-resistant display for better durability. The new watch will start at $399 while the Apple Watch 3 and Apple Watch SE will remain as lower cost options.
iPad 9: Apple's standard iPad gets an A13 Bionic processor, an improved 12MP front camera that adopts the Center Stage feature and better low-light photography. It's arriving next week at $329.
iPad mini 6: Apple's smallest iPad sees its first update since 2019, with a new edge-to-edge display and Touch ID button similar to the one Apple introduced with the iPad Air. Center Stage video and Apple Pencil support is included in this $499 model, which ships next week.
Missing in action from this event was any news of new MacBooks — which we expected to be left out — and the AirPods 3 — which surprised us by its absence. Apple did detail new features coming to its Apple Fitness Plus subscription service, though.
Be sure to also check out our archived live blog below for more details, as well as our live reactions to every big announcement as it happened and an embedded replay of Apple's product event announcements.
So today's the big day. And the iPhone 13 is coming. Think you'll upgrade? Well, here's the one feature we're hoping to see to make Apple's new iPhones worth buying.
iOS 15 is also coming this week and will get a recap at the Apple event. So here are 8 of the new iOS 15 features you'll want to try out.
A last-minute case leak adds further credence to the leaks we've heard about the iPhone 13's design. It basically looks like an iPhone 12 but we expect a smaller notch.
Interested in the new Apple Watch design? Then here are the colors we are expecting to see from the Apple Watch 7.
Another leak has the iPhone 13 tipped to get 1TB of storage space, which isn't a first for smartphones, but could be pretty massive. It would be a boon for people who capture a lot of photos and videos.
New iPad mini 6 leak alert! Or at least an alleged one, claiming there'll be Apple Pencil 2 support, a USB-C port, Smart Connector, and a trio of colors. The jury's still out on whether it'll be revealed today.
iPad mini 6 all the information I have#Apple #iPadMini6 pic.twitter.com/GRyNwiUrt9September 12, 2021
It's looking like the new iPhone could get a ProMotion display, and we have a good breakdown of why an iPhone 13 120Hz display is a big deal for users.
The AirPods 3 are expected to launch today but could be more expensive than the AirPods 2. At least that's according to Apple oracle and analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has the next-gen wireless earbuds tipped to be sold alongside the previous generation.
Well this won't come as a huge surprise to people who follow tech events, but Apple has its own 'like' animation for Twitter for the Apple event, with a like flashing up a luminescent Apple logo before tuning into a heart.
Time to shine#AppleEvent pic.twitter.com/K65FBt7wlVSeptember 14, 2021
Given the whole "California streaming" tagline for the Apple event, we'd be somewhat curious as to whether there'll be any mention of Apple TV Plus. We've heard no leaks around it, but maybe Apple has managed to keep the lid on a few surprises.
If you're not convinced by the design of the iPhone 13, then you might want to wait for the iPhone 14. According to the early claimed leaks so far, it could finally drop the display notch and lose the camera bump. And Face ID could even be hidden under the iPhone 14's display. That would be cool, but we'd be curious to see how Apple would pull that off.
More claimed iPhone 13 case renders have been posted by serial leaker Evan Blass on his evleaks Twitter account. They give us yet another look at how Apple could have shrunken down the display notch, finally!
Apple hates it when case makers publish device-bearing renders prior to launch... pic.twitter.com/uA6wUvoXE3September 14, 2021
Uh-oh! The Apple Store appears to be down. But that's actually a good thing as it means Apple is likely refreshing its product lineup ahead of the Apple event, meaning we could see iPhone 13 pre-orders go live today.
The Apple Store is down! The average Store downtime is about 3 hours and 29 minutes – https://t.co/hnhhIQ6KjHSeptember 14, 2021
And here's our take on the iPhone 13 case leaks. It's not going to revolutionize the iPhone's current design, but we're absolutely ready for a smaller notch.
Don't expect so see the much-rumored MacBook Pro 2021 14-inch or a refreshed 16-inch MacBook Pro today, as they've been tipped for a separate Apple event, likely in October time. But Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has claimed the new M1X MacBook pros could arrive in "the next several weeks" at a second Apple event that may also feature iPads.
We've perused the rumor that the iPad mini 6 will be inspired by the iPad Air, and we reckon Apple could be onto a winner here. A sleeker design with slimmer bezels and extra functionality could make for a rather impressive compact tablet.
Tom’s Guide’s editors are making their predictions for the Apple Event. Global editor in chief Mark Spoonauer thinks the camera upgrades will be the highlight of the iPhone 13.
“If the rumors are true, I think people will be talking about the improved Night mode and portrait mode video. Right now the iPhone 12 really struggles when shooting the moon or stars,” Spoonauer says.
Meanwhile, it's all about the display upgrades for managing editor of news Roland Moore-Colyer: "I really hope to see Apple adopt a 120Hz refresh rate across all iPhone 13 models. But it looks like only the iPhone 13 Pro will get it.
"But having used the Oppo Find X3 Pro for months now, I'm utterly enamoured with high-refresh rate displays, so if the iPhone 13 Pro gets one, it'll be the Apple phone for me."
Senior staff writer Kate Kozuch would like to see Apple adopt the much-rumored under-display Touch ID. Sadly, it looks like she'll have to wait until the iPhone 14.
"The return of Touch ID would make all my iPhone 13 dreams come true. Yeah, it's probably not happening, but under-screen Touch ID would make getting into my iPhone so much easier," said Kozuch.
More of an Android user, editor in chief Marc McLaren still feels that camera improvements are again the big draw of Apple's next-gen phone.
"The iPhone 13 Pro will supposedly be getting some big new camera skills such as autofocus on the wide-angle lens and a bigger sensor," he said. "If true, this could push the iPhone even further ahead of the competition when it comes to photography. And let's face it, that's a far bigger deal for most people than whether it has a slightly smaller notch."
Finally. The iPhone 13 is tipped to ditch the measly 64GB storage option (opens in new tab) and start with a base 128GB of storage. This would put Apple's new iPhone on par with the best Android phones.
If you haven't done so yet, update your iPhone to iOS 14.8 right now. Apple has issued an emergency update for iPhones and iPads in response to a serious spyware flaw.
The iPad 9 has just been tipped to launch today (opens in new tab) alongside the iPhone 13. It's definitely not set in stone, but we could see a larger 10.5-inch display, faster A14 Bionic chip and more RAM inside Apple's most affordable tablet.
Feeling nostalgic as we wait for the iPhone 13 launch? @SuperSaf (opens in new tab) has a closer look at the original iPhone on video, and it looks positively tiny.
Happy #AppleEvent Day 😎To mark the occasion, I got hold of the FIRST iPhone from @GridStudiocc 😍 This phone really changed the game! pic.twitter.com/6JMxxfHvCPSeptember 14, 2021
If this Tim Cook tweet (opens in new tab) is to be believed, today's Apple Event is coming to you live from the Joshua Tree National Park.
Good morning from somewhere a little different this time. We’re California streaming in 3 hours! See you soon. 👀 #AppleEvent pic.twitter.com/C5V5hiel8FSeptember 14, 2021
Nah, that's probably not true. But we'd guess this tweet sheds more light on the California Streaming theme of the event, with Apple likely featuring executives talking up its products from the four corners of California instead of from around the Apple campus, as has been the case in previous virtual events.
Celebrity cameos were a mainstay of Apple events back when these things were held in person. (Remember that time back in 2014 when U2 showed up to help launch the iPhone 6, and suddenly there was a new U2 album on our phones? Good times...) But the pace of celebrity walk-ons has tapered off in the COVID-19 area, as Apple has taken its events virtual.
That said, we'd wager there's a non-zero chance of a Ted Lasso cameo today, though perhaps a Schmigadoon-style musical number is too much to hope for.
With the Apple Store down — see our earlier live blog update — it's a pretty good better that there will be things to pre-order at the end of the day. If you're hoping one of those things is an iPhone, be sure to check out our iPhone 13 pre-order guide, which we plan to update with all the information from retailers and carriers just as soon as it comes in.
In the meantime, you'll find links to the top iPhone retailers and a guide on what to expect in terms of ordering info and potential deal.
Sure, you can watch the Apple event live stream, or follow along here in the live blog or even watch the Tom's Guide Twitter account (opens in new tab) for updates. But you can TikTok your way through today's proceedings, too, and Tom's Guide is here to helpl
Here's a TikTok of our own Kate Kozuch previewing today's big Apple reveal (opens in new tab).
@tomsguide (opens in new tab)
Will you watch today’s #Apple event? #iphone13 will make a big debut, but we could see new #airpods, a new #ipad and the #applewatch7, too! 🍎 #tech♬ Tech (V1) - Brian Englishman (opens in new tab)
We're expecting Apple to reveal release dates for iOS 15, iPadOS 15 and watchOS 8 today. (We could also get the release date for macOS 12 Monterey, though if Apple is holding a separate Mac event in a few weeks, it wouldn't be out of the ordinary for Apple to release a macOS update then.) In fact, Apple could go so far as to roll out the new software updates today.
But even if the latest software updates aren't available until next week, that raises the inevitable question — should you update right away or should you wait for an update or two before taking the plunge?
It's never a bad idea to wait, as that gives Apple a chance to stamp out any lingering bugs. And you can also judge how smooth the upgrade process is by seeing how people react on social media. In terms of iOS 15, at least, I've been testing the beta since it came out in June — you can read my iOS 15 beta hands-on to see what I think. And I've found it to be pretty stable, with the most persistent bug being that apps occasionally crash when I try to launch them and I'll need to launch them once again — not exactly a showstopper of a bug.
So if you normally proceed with caution around software updates continue to do so. Otherwise, if you're feeling adventurous, these feel like pretty solid updates.
We mentioned potential Apple Watch colors earlier, but what about the iPhone? As you can imagine, iPhone color rumors are a big source of speculation leading up to any iPhone launch. After all, the color of the phone is the first thing people see, so clearly, everyone wants an iPhone that makes a good impression.
In the case of the iPhone 13, think pink. Apple is going with that as a color option for the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini, according to rumors. Pink would replace Green among the current color options, with white, black, purple, blue and Product [Red] all returning from the iPhone 12. Or so the rumor goes.
On the iPhone 13 Pro front, expect fewer color options, though two of them are likely to be new. Apple is reportedly adding matte black and bronze as options alongside silver and gold.
As always, it will be interesting to see which colors people embrace and which ones will be in ample supply.
Got plans for after the Apple event? Tom's Guide editorial director Mark Spoonauer will be appearing on the Future Tech Show with Laptop editor-in-chief Sherri Smith to talk about whatever Apple announces.
The show gets underway at 3 p.m. ET/noon PT, and you can watch along on YouTube (opens in new tab) or on the embedded stream below.
If you're looking for a last-minute prediction to wow friends and family with, it's not out of the question that Apple could talk about Apple Arcade today. It would make particular sense if the iPhone 13 Pro models do get 120Hz displays, since immersive gaming would be one of the known benefits of having a fast-refreshing 120Hz display.
Apple could stoke enthusiasm for 120Hz displays by talking about games on Apple Arcade that have been optimized for the faster refresh rate — at least, that's one way to talk up both the benefits of Apple's new phones plus its subscription services.
This isn't based on any rumor or inside knowledge — just some speculation on our part. We'll see if it's correct in a little more than an hour.
If this were an in-person product launch, about now, Apple would be opening the doors, and tech reporters would be tweeting out photos of the Steve Jobs Theater. In lieu of that, here's a photo of my TV, opened to the TV app on Apple TV, which will be live streaming the event.
The Steve Jobs Theater, this ain't.
If you like your iPhone 13 predictions last minute, AppleInsider (opens in new tab) has posted a round-up of what the analysts at TrendForce think about the upcoming phone announcements. What they're forecasting is consistent with the iPhone 13 rumors we've been tracking.
- The iPhone 13 Pro will get ProMotion displays — that's the dynamically adjusting 120Hz refresh rate — and a 1TB storage option.
- As with the iPhone 12, all the iPhone 13 models will have AMOLED screens.
- Sensor shift stabilization, a feature on the iPhone 12 Pro Max's camera, will be available on all four iPhone 13 models.
- LiDAR returns, though the story doesn't specify if that's just returning to the Pro models or if the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini are joining in on the fun. We've heard dueling predictions on that front.
Only another 50 minutes or so, and we'll find out who's right.
Some last-minute reading, while we're waiting for Apple to flip the switch on today's presentation: The iPhone 12 was a big hit, helping Apple enjoy record sales throughout the past year — even at times when iPhone sales tend to peter out. One of the big reasons was the addition of 5G.
So how does Apple follow that up? True, not everyone upgraded to a 5G iPhone since the iPhone 12's release, so there will still be some upgraders for that feature. But what else? Here's how Apple could make the case that the iPhone 13 is the device you need.
It has only now occurred to me that there could be a good reason for Tim Cook to be wandering around the desert (opens in new tab), other than the fact that Joshua Tree is a lovely national park, and well worth a visit (though maybe not in the summertime). The iPhone 13 is rumored to be getting some form of satellite communication — likely a way to send alerts via text when a cellular connection isn't available.
Having spent some time in Joshua Tree National Park, I can tell you that it is also an ideal place to show what happens when you can't pick up a cellular connection. So chalk that up as another last-minute prediction.
If you're following along at home, Apple's live stream is now live — if you define "live" as showing the Apple logo floating above a field of flowers while soothing music plays.
Strap yourself in, folks.
And we're underway with a musical number — California Soul — with shots of music makers around the state of California. In addition to that desert Tim Cook tweeted from, we've got coastal, forest and city scapes, so Apple is leaning into its home state here.
Oh, Tim Cook is in a theater, not the desert. Well, that's a disappointment.
We're starting with Apple TV Plus, as Tim Cook recounts the critical and award acclaim Apple shows are getting (obligatory Ted Lasso mention). And we're going to get a preview of some of the shows coming to Apple TV this fall. That includes returning favorites — The Morning Show — as well as new programs like Jon Stewart's upcoming show and programs with Tom Hanks and Paul Rudd.
We're getting a new iPad, the iPad 9 to be exact. It will be powered by the A13 processor, which Apple says is 3x faster than the best selling Chromebook and 6x faster than the best selling Android tablet.
Apple's also touting the neural engine on the A13 processor, as well as the upgraded 12MP ultrawide camera that's now on the front of the iPad. To go with that camera, the iPad will adapt the Center Stage feature from the iPad Pro, so that you remain in the shot as you move around.
Center Stage works in FaceTime as well as third party apps like Zoom and Blue Jeans. It works with things like TikTok too, which should impress the young'ins.
The new iPad starts at $329 for 64GB (which is twice the storage as before). The education price is $299, so clearly Apple is touting this as a tablet for schools.
We're getting a second iPad too — the iPad mini 6 in purple, pink, starlight and space gray. You get a liquid retina display with an all-screen design and new enclosure.
Because the screen is edge-to-edge, Touch ID has moved to the button on the top of the screen — a trick Apple borrowed from the iPad Air (and should add to its phones, if you ask me.)
Apple is adopted the USB-C port for the mini, same as the IPad Air. So that's a faster data connection. Apple's touting the speed and improved neural engine on the iPad mini, too. (If they mentioned what chip is powering the tablet, though, I missed it.)
But the biggest connectivity addition may be the inclusion of 5G. Presumably that will be included with the cellular option of the iPad mini, as opposed to the Wi-Fi-only version of the tablet.
As with the other iPad (and the iPad Pro before it), the iPad Air adds the Center Stage feature. (It's almost as if video conferencing has become important over the last 18 months.)
Like the iPad, the iPad mini now has Apple Pencil support. So basically, this tablet is becoming a lot like Apple's full-sized iPad only shrunken down.
The iPad mini costs $499, with Wi-Fi and cellular connections. Like the main iPad, it's available to order today and on-sale next week.
The iPads now dispensed with, Apple turns to the Apple Watch. Tim Cook says Apple is continuing to push the boundaries of what the Apple Watch continue to do. And to show you what that means, chief operating officer Jeff Williams has been dispatched to the central coast of California to talk about new cycling features in watchOS 8. The best addition: fall detection in case you and your bike take a tumble.
But we're not just here to talk about how watchOS can now better track cycling — Apple's introducing a new generation of Apple Watch, the Series 7. It features the largest display ever — 20% more than Series 6. Borders are just 1.7mm, 40% thinner than last year's watch, to maximize screen area.
We get rounder corners for the display, not the flat edges that had been rumored. More importantly, the watch is 70% brighter when your wrist is down, so that it's easier to check the time. ("Discretely," Williams adds.)
Series 7 has WR50 water resistance and is more durable than before. Charging's been improved to be 33% faster, but Apple Watch users will be disappointed that Apple is still only touting all-day battery life. We had been hoping that Apple would boost how long its watch would last.
The watch will come in Midnight, Starlight, Green and Product [Red] colors. Additional colors for available for stainless steel.
The Apple Watch Series 7 starts at $399; it won't be available until later this fall (possibly confirming rumors that the Apple Watch is experience production displays.) The Apple Watch Series 3 remains in the lineup for $199 while the Apple Watch SE costs $279.
It wouldn't be an Apple Watch presentation without talk of Apple Fitness Plus, the subscription service available in six countries. Fifteen countries will add the service later this fall with subtitled workouts.
Among the additions to Fitness Plus are pilates, guided meditations and a new workout program that takes its inspiration from winter sports (Workouts to Get Ready for Snow Season).
Apple is also introducing Fitness Plus Group Workouts through Share Play. The feature will be available through iPhone, iPad and Mac, and support up to 32 people at once. Presumably, with SharePlay not coming when iOS 15 launches, that feature will be delayed until later this fall. Otherwise, Apple says that new features are arriving next month.
By the way, here's our report on the iPad 9 and all the new features Apple announced earlier.
Sound the iPhone 13 alarm. Apple's ready to show off the new phones. A lot is the same from last year — Ceramic Shield display and straight edges — though the camera array is rearranged to be diagonal. The notch is smaller, too as rumored, and there are five colors — pink joins black, white, red and blue.
The iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini have new displays that are 28% brighter than before. And inside there's the new A15 Bionic chip, which features a 6-core CPU and 4-core GPU. Apple says the CPU is the fastest of any phone, and we'd believe that claim given how the iPhone has smoked Android devices in past benchmarking.
Let's talk cameras. There's a next-generation image signal processor powering what Apple touts as the the most advanced dual-camera system it's put on any phone.
The main 12MP sensor is larger to let in more light, and the sensor shift stabilization introduced in the iPhone 12 Pro Max is coming to the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini. That should mean sharper photos.
A new ultrawide camera is included to better capture dark areas.
On the video front, Cinematic mode can adjust background and foreground focus to make your videos look more like the movies you see on the big-screen. You start recording and Cinematic mode holds focus on the subject, transitioning the focus in real time. One of the neater tricks is when your subject trains her focus away from the camera, the iPhone will adjust the focus as well. You're also able to tap to shift focus or lock it on another subject
Camera demos don't always translate well to video, but this one really impressed.
Apple says the iPhone 13 features customized antennas to add more 5G bands than before — pretty impressive given the array of bands the iPhone 12 support. Apple's promising 5G support for 200 carriers in 60 countries and regions by year's end.
Let's be frank — battery life on the iPhone 12 wasn't great. Apple apparently heard those complaints because it's promising better battery life for the iPhone 13. Specifically, the iPhone 13 mini will last 1.5 hours longer than its predecessor while the iPhone 13 could last up to 2.5 hours longer.
Credit a bigger battery, the A15 processor and power optimizations resulting from software and hardware integration. This is one feature we definitely hope lives up to Apple's billing.
Prices are the same as last year — $699 for the iPhone 13 mini and $799 for the iPhone 13. Thankfully, you'll get more storage, as the phones now start with 128GB of storage instead of a paltry 64GB. There are also 256GB and 512GB options.
Apple's promising trade-in deals to lower the cost of your new iPhone, which I'm sure we'll find out about later today.
"Say, aren't there usually Pro versions of those iPhones?" Right you are, friend. It's time to talk iPhone 13 Pro — "our most Pro iPhone ever," Tim Cook says.
You get four finishes — graphite, gold, silver and Sierra Blue. Sounds like the color rumor mongers missed the boat here. You get the ceramic display and IP68 water resistance, as before, and a redesigned interior makes room for a bigger battery.
Sounds like the iPhone 13 Pro gets a slightly modified A15 chip, with a 5-core GPU. Apple is touting it as the fastest graphics experience on the iPhone ever.
As widely anticipated, Apple is bringing ProMotion displays to the Pro lineup, with the ability to scale between 10Hz and 120Hz, depending on what you're doing on the screen. That includes adjusting the refresh rate based on how quickly you're scrolling through the screen
Apple's presentation features developers — largely from games and creative apps — talking about the responsive, lack of lag and more detailed graphics that appear, thanks to ProMotion graphics.
There's an all-new camera system, highlighted by a 77mm telephoto camera with 3x zoom. The ultrawide camera has a wider aperture than before for brighter sharper photos. The sensor on the main lens is larger, too, and Apple's touting the astrophotography aspects of that, as well as better low light images.
All of the cameras have Night mode, including the telephoto lens.
Kathryn Bigelow, who's won two Oscars, and cinematographer Greig Fraser are showing off what the iPhone 13 Pro cameras can do with video capture. It will not surprise you to learn that they were impressed with Cinematic mode and the ability to create depth from a lens.
Later this year, Apple is bringing ProRes Video to the iPhone 13 Pro. A15 Bionic adds hardware acceleration for ProRes video, allowing you to record 4K at 30FPs right in the camera app. As ProRes is favored in the movie-making industry, that's invaluable to creative pros.
We mentioned bigger batteries and Apple is promising longer battery life for the iPhone 13 Pro (1.5 hours longer than the 12 Pro) and iPhone 13 Pro Max (2.5 longer than its predecessor). That's great news for the 13 Pro Max considering the iPhone 12 Pro Max just missed out on landing on our list of the best phone battery life.
Price are the same as last year — $999 for the iPhone 13 Pro and $1,099 for the iPhone 13 Pro Max. And yes, the long-rumored 1TB model is now with us.
All four iPhone 13 models go on pre-sale this Friday (Sept. 17) and hit stores on Sept. 24.
Apple's wrapping things up, which means it's true that any Mac announcements will have to wait for a future event. Also missing — more curiously — are the rumored AirPods 3.
While we're talking about things that haven't been announced, the Apple presentation came and went with no mention of the release dates for iOS 15, iPadOS 15 and watchOS 8. If we had to guess, the software's going to debut before the phones hit the stores on Sept. 24, so we'd guess early next week.
And that does it for Apple's product event. We'll have more on what was announced all across Tom's Guide. Thanks for joining us.
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