Coverage: Apple’s annual product love fest is Wednesday
Apple is holding a live event Wednesday at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California, and speculation is rampant about the next iPhone, whether an updated Apple Watch update is coming, and all other manner of Apple rumors.
John Patrick Pullen of Fortune had the news:
New Apple iPhones are all but guaranteed, but the devil is in the details, and 9to5Mac has done some excellent sleuthing during the past two weeks. Within hours of the Apple event being announced, the news site revealed two new iPhones were to be unveiled. Coming with 5.8- and 6.5-inch OLED displays, the new Apple handsets will reportedly be named iPhone XS.
As for the new iPhones’ storage, speed, color, and other details, there’s remains a lot of guessing, but few guarantees. The new iPhone will likely have a faster chip than iPhone X, possibly a camera spec bump, a bigger battery on the larger handset (and you’ll need more power to drive that bigger 6.5-inch display). IPhone S-models are typically where Apple rewards more patient upgraders with gotta-have features. For instance, digital voice assistant Siri was introduced on the iPhone 4S and Touch ID for unlocking phones using fingerprints to verify identity rolled out on the 5S. Speculation is that Apple may turn on the iPhone’s NFC capabilities so users can bump their phones together to transfer money to each other through Apple Pay. But if I had an Apple Buck for every rumor I’ve heard like this, I’d be a rich man with a dented iPhone.
Micah Singleton of The Verge reported that Apple does not plan any announcement about Beats, its headphone company:
In fact, any and all evidence surrounding new headphones from the company points toward new products directly from Apple. There’s a strong chance that we’ll see an updated pair of AirPods. There has also been talk about Apple producing its own over-the-ear headphones, which would presumably compete against options from Beats, the headphone company Apple spent $3 billion acquiring.
There’s a good chance 2018 will end with no new products from Beats at all, which is uncharted territory for the headphone maker. Since Apple bought Beats Electronics in 2013, its subsidiary has released either a new pair of headphones or a speaker every year until now. That may seem like a jarring shift at first, but upon closer inspection, you’ll notice that Beats has largely only made iterative updates: it’s on the third edition of its Solo, Studio, and Powerbeats lines, all of which have received minor updates over the years instead of releasing truly new and innovative products. The last new headphones it introduced were the BeatsX back in 2016, and those have yet to receive an iterative update.
What Beats has done extremely well is leverage its position as a staple of youth, sports, and fashion culture. You’ll see Beats headphones being worn by many of the top athletes in the world and in a number of music videos from major artists in order to sell the same headphones over and over again, despite the lack of new hardware. Beats consistently releases new colorways of its headphones (a marketing strategy popularized by Jordan Brand and employed throughout the sneaker and fashion industry) to keep its brand relevant. But one would think Apple spent billions on Beats for more than its engineering team that helped create Apple Music and some periodically repainted headphones.
Jesus Diaz of Fast Company wrote that Apple needed to make its new XS phone smaller:
There are many reasons why Apple is doubling down on bigger phones (read my colleague Mark Sullivan’s take here). But I wish the XS were closer in size to the iPhone 4–and that the XS actually meant “Extra Small.”
The iPhone 4 was the perfect phone. At 4.5 inches by 2.31 inches by 0.37 inches and weighing just 4.8 ounces, it was compact, fast, and beautiful. It embodied many of Dieter Ram’s design principles (although not all of them). Nothing was superfluous. Its form factor perfectly adjusted to your hand’s anatomy. It was my favorite iPhone ever, followed by the iPhone 5–which was a bit bigger but still manageable, simple, comfortable. I would still like to take it out for a drink to talk about the good old times.
This isn’t just idle nostalgia. As phone screens have gotten bigger, so too has our tendency to overuse them. Larger screens make it dead simple to shop, check social media, and watch videos. So we do these things ad nauseam, isolating ourselves from the present and the real world around us.
By contrast, smaller phones, such as the iPhone 4, are still big enough for the basics: You can write a short email, receive and reply to messages quickly, get directions, check your schedule, or glance at the news headlines. But anything more involved becomes difficult. You have to zoom and pinch and swipe and scroll. Who wants to do that? With a small screen, the phone becomes a useful extension of your brain. It doesn’t take over your brain.