Live Blog

Apple Unveils Its Latest iPhone and Smartwatch Models

Tim Cook to Usher in New Era for iPhone

Tuesday September 12, 2017
Welcome to our TOPLive blog for Apple's product launch event. At 10 a.m. PT (1 p.m. ET), the company is expected to unveil its new iPhone lineup. Join us then for full news coverage and analysis.

Expectations are lofty. After all, this is the 10th anniversary of the original iPhone, a gadget that upended the industry and created an ecosystem of apps and accessories. The new iPhone won’t be a case-study in innovation, but more a matter of perfecting features already in rival devices.

If history is any guide, it will be a hit. Millions are already locked into the Apple ecosystem and trust the company to deliver its signature performance and elegance. And Apple's ``best, not first'' philosophy, has consistently succeeded where others have failed. You want proof? More than 1.2 billion iPhones have been sold in the past decade.

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Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
Hi everyone! I am Mark Gurman, and I'll be your lead blogger today for the Apple product event. We're reporting live from the new Steve Jobs Theater at the Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California, and just as the new hall is taking Apple into a new era, today's event will be a major milestone for three new products, including the iPhone.
Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
Here are the rest of today's contributors:
  • Gerrit De Vynck, technology reporter
  • Shira Ovide, Bloomberg Gadfly columnist
  • Elena Popina, stocks reporter
  • Douglas Zehr, Bloomberg Intelligence editor
  • Molly Kissler, social media monitor
An Apple employee assists with check-in at the Steve Jobs Theater before today's event:
Photographer: Michael Short/Bloomberg
A few of the Apple universe's great and good spotted at the Steve Jobs Theater: Lord Foster (architect behind the new HQ, as well as Bloomberg's new London HQ, incidentally); cultural polymath Stephen Fry; industrial design chief Richard Howarth; hardware SVP Dan Riccio; chips SVP Johny Srouji; and Laurene Powell Jobs, to name but a few. 

I wonder whether board member Al Gore has sidled in somewhere...
The iPhone represents about two-thirds of Apple's sales, and any time the company unveils a new model, it's a significant day not only for consumers, but also for investors. For the first time, Apple will be debuting three iPhones today, including successors to the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus as well as a new high-end premium model, the iPhone X.
Shares of Apple have soared 39% this year, and the analysts' average target price implies a 9.1% advance over the next 12 months from Monday's close. Citic Securities initiated coverage with a ``buy'' recommendation and a 12-month price target of $200, the second-highest among about 50 analysts covering the stock. This target price implies a 24% rally over the next year.
The Apple Watch and Apple TV only represent a small slice of the company's overall sales, but the Watch has been showcased as key to augmenting iPhone sales, while Apple TV is the centerpiece of the company's growing original-video strategy: It's the place Apple wants people to watch its shows.
Investors are hoping new iPhone features such as 3-D sensing capabilities and improved cameras release the kind of pent-up demand seen in 2014, when the iPhone 6’s introduction drove Apple’s shares to outperform the Nasdaq Composite Index by 9.5% over the following two months.

Here are our expectations for the new premium iPhone model:

  • New Design: The most immediate and obvious change with the high-end phone will be its design. It’s an all new look for the iPhone that drops the bezels around the display. Essentially, almost the entire front of the phone is the screen save for a cutout at the top for the earpiece, selfie camera, and sensors. The sides of the phone will now be a stainless steel band and the back will be made of glass – like the iPhone 4 from 2010. The rear cameras will also now be vertically, not horizontally aligned, which may make for better AR apps.

  • Edge-to-Edge Screen: an OLED display that more accurately reproduces colors. It’s a significant change that makes images on the screen much crisper. The screen itself is slightly larger than the one on the iPhone 7 Plus (5.5 inches), but because of the slimmer bezels, the phone’s overall size will be closer to that of the smaller iPhone 7.

  • No Home Button: Ten years after debuting the Home button as the main physical control on the device, Apple is removing it for the premium model. In its place: a virtual bar that can be dragged up to activate features like multitasking and to close apps. See our in-depth story on the change from last month.

  • No Touch ID: Also gone is the iPhone’s fingerprint scanner. Introduced with the iPhone 5s in 2013, the Touch ID scanner in the Home button has allowed people to unlock their iPhones in a split second. The company tried to embed it into the screen itself, but faced manufacturing problems, Bloomberg has reported.

  • 3-D Face Unlock: In place of Touch ID will be a 3-D facial recognition scanner. The sensor is designed to scan the user’s face within a few hundred milliseconds. It is designed to work even if the device is lying flat on a table, rather than close up to a face. The sensor would also be used to authenticate payments and launch secure apps, Bloomberg has reported.

  • Inductive Charging: A new feature for the iPhone, but one that has been on competing smartphones for years, is likely to be inductive charging. This would allow a user to rest the iPhone on a charging pad instead of plugging it in.

  • Faster Processor: Apple is preparing to flex its chip muscles yet again with a new chip for the iPhone likely to be dubbed the “A11.” The processor is said to be based on a new 10nm manufacturing process, which means the chip will be easier on the battery, potentially making the new iPhone last longer.

  • New Software: As usual, the new iPhone will ship with new software -- iOS 11. Key additions include a redesigned Control Center quick settings panel, support for augmented reality apps, Apple Pay support in iMessage, maps for inside airports and malls, and a dedicated app for managing files.

  • Other Models: The other two models are expected to look similar to the current iPhones, but will have a faster processor and, potentially, glass backs to support inductive charging.
"It was only fitting that Steve open his theater," Cook says. 

The video played Steve Jobs narrating with a black screen behind him.
Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
Cook is taking a moment to reflect on Jobs -- a really emotional introduction. Some Apple watchers said the company would never look back, but obviously a tribute to Apple's co-founder and creator of the iPhone, iPad and many other products is necessary and deserved.
Source: Apple
Cook says Steve Jobs started working on Apple Park over 10 years ago -- "a workplace of the future."
Apple Visitors Center in Cupertino, California. Photographer: Michael Short/Bloomberg
``There's not a day that goes by that we don't think about him,'' Cook says about Jobs. 

Are they trying to recapture some of the magic that went along with early Apple keynote events? Some have said they've grown routine and repetitive with time.
Cook now turns to discussing the hurricanes disrupting Texas, Florida and the Caribbean. He says Apple is working with Hand in Hand and the American Red Cross to help. He reiterates that donations can be made via iTunes and the App Store. 

"I hope that you open your heart to this important effort."
Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
Cook on the venue: "It's the most state of the art theater ever." 

It is indeed something to behold. With its all-glass exterior, it feels like you're inside a building yet still outside.
Also on the docket are new models of the Apple Watch and Apple TV. Here's what we're expecting from the Watch:

  • Cellular Data: The most significant new hardware feature will be an option for an LTE radio. This means users will be able to buy a version of the Watch that can connect to cellular data networks, including Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, and AT&T in the U.S. and some carriers internationally, and leave their iPhone behind.

  • New Bands: Since the first Apple Watch launched in 2015, the company has refreshed its selection of straps every six months or so. The last bands came out in March, so it would make sense for Apple to roll out a fall collection today.

  • New Software: As previewed at Apple's June developers conference, the company is rolling out a new Siri-powered watch face that can preview your day, improvements to the Workout and Apple Music apps, and support for connecting to gym equipment. Apple is also adding capability to send and receive money from contacts via Apple Pay.
And what we're looking for from the new Apple TV set-top-box:

  • 4K Video Streaming: TheApple Is Said to Plan 4K TV Box Reveal in New Living Room Pushmain upgrade will be support for 4K video, a standard with much higher resolution than 1080p. Of course, you'll need an updated TV to make use of it. Apple has been in talks with popular video streaming apps, TV studios, and movie companies about supplying 4K content for the box.

  • HDR Video Streaming: To go along with 4K, Apple is planning to support HDR video playback as well. This standard shows video with more vivid and brighter colors.

  • Faster Processor: The updated box will feature a faster processor to stream the higher-resolution video content.

  • Improved Live TV Integration: Right now, users can quickly view live TV streams from a number of Apple TV applications by asking Siri or launching the apps. Apple is testing expanding that access to the TV app that it brought out last December. People would still have to enter their cable or satellite company login, but they’ll be able to see live news and sports offerings in a single view.

  • New Software: Uncharacteristically, Apple didn’t discuss the update to tvOS at its developer conference, but it did release a beta version to developers. With the new version, users can synchronize the placement of app icons across multiple Apple TV boxes and the software can shift to a dark mode at night.
Ahrendts is going over new additions to Apple Stores, including outside plazas for their bigger locations (the new San Francisco branch has one) and seasonal window shopping-like walls with accessories.
Ahrendts is previewing some new Apple Stores, including the 5th Avenue location in New York (which will keep the Glass Cube). She also says there will be a revamped Paris store and a Milan location. She's also discussing a store taking over the Carnegie Library in Washington.
Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
Apple used to disclose sales from its retail stores but stopped a few years ago. In the 12 months ended in September 2014, it sold more than $21 billion of merchandise at its own stores, 12% of total sales in that period.