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CUPERTINO, California, Sept 13, (Agencies): Apple on Tuesday unveiled a number of new phones, including its most expensive one yet, as well as new versions of its Apple Watch and its streaming TV device. Here’s a rundown of the announcements.
Apple is releasing a super-premium iPhone with a super-premium price tag, starting at $999. The new iPhone X — pronounced like the number 10 — will have a screen with higher resolution and richer colors.
It will also lose a distinct home button to make more room for the 5.8-inch display. That’s slightly more than the Plus model’s 5.5 inches, though the phone’s size is closer to the regular iPhone model.
The features are similar to what Samsung offers.
The new design will enable new ways to interact with the phone. Instead of pressing the button to get the home page, you swipe up instead.
Apple is also offering the ability to unlock the phone with facial recognition rather than a fingerprint or passcode. Though some Android phones offer this, Apple is adding sensors to improve performance and says it worked with mask designers during testing to improve security. An executive initially failed to unlock the phone this way in a demo Tuesday, though.
The new phone, which is coming Nov 3, will also permit animated emojis that mirror your facial movements and promises two more hours of battery life than what’s in the current iPhone 7. Such an iPhone has been widely anticipated for the iPhone’s 10th anniversary and comes just weeks after Samsung unveiled its own super-premium phone, the $930-and-up Galaxy Note 8.
Apple is refreshing its lineup of iPhones with camera, display and speaker improvements.
The new phones promise to shoot pictures with better colors and less distortion, particularly in low-light settings. The display will adapt to ambient lighting, similar to a feature in some iPad Pro models. Speakers will be louder and offer deeper bass.
The new iPhone 8 will keep its predecessor’s size — 4.7 inches — but have a higher starting price of $699, up from $649. The 5.5-inch iPhone 8 Plus starts at $799, up from $769. The new phones come out Sept 22
Apple is bucking its traditional naming convention by calling the new phones iPhone 8 rather than 7S. The S designation might have given consumers the impression that the new phones are mere incremental updates from the current iPhone 7.
The Plus version will continue to have two camera lenses and now has the ability to optimize lighting as you shoot.
Both versions will allow wireless charging. Many Android phones, including Samsung’s, already have this.
Apple is coming out with a new smartwatch designed to be less dependent on the iPhone. A new model will still require a companion iPhone, but comes with cellular access. That makes it possible to do more — like receiving messages — while the phone is at home. The watch will use the same number as the phone. The feature will require a $5 or $10 data add-on to an existing phone plan.
The new cellular model, called Series 3, will start at $399. One without cellular goes for $329, down from $369 for the comparable model now. The original Series 1, without GPS, sells for $249, down from $269. The new watch comes out Sept. 22.
Existing Apple Watches will get a software update next Tuesday that will provide more analysis of your heart rate. The Series 3 also delivers warnings for elevated heart rate when you don’t appear to be active.
A new version of the Apple TV streaming device will be able to show video with sharper “4K” resolution — a step up from standard high definition — and a color-improvement technology called high dynamic range. Many rival devices already offer these features. However, there’s not a lot of video in 4K and HDR yet, nor are there many TVs that can display it.
Apple says it’s been working with movie studios to bring titles with 4K and HDR to its iTunes store. They will be sold at the same prices as high-definition video, which tends to be a few dollars more than standard-definition versions. Apple says it’s working with Netflix and Amazon Prime to bring their 4K original programs to Apple TV, too.
The 4K version of Apple TV will cost $179 and ships on Sept 22. A version without 4K will cost $149.
More than two years after releasing the Apple Watch, Apple Inc has finally been able to replicate 1940s comic strip technology, an advance that analysts say will spur sales.
The Series 3 of the Apple Watch features wireless LTE connectivity. That means customers will be able to make phone calls or send text messages from the watch without needing to have an iPhone nearby, as they do with earlier models.
The ability to make calls with a wristwatch has captured the imagination of tech enthusiasts at least since it was prominently featured in “Dick Tracy,” the comic about a private detective who, starting in 1946, used calls from his wrist to help bust bad guys.
“This has been our vision from the beginning,” Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams said at the launch event.
“Now you can go for a run with just your watch and still be connected. It’s really nice to know you can be reached if needed.”
To be sure, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd has sold smart watches with mobile data connectivity since 2014, but the first devices were bulky and suffered from poor battery life because the data connection consumed extra power. They also require a separate phone number.
Apple claims its new Series 3, on the other hand, will have up to 18 hours of battery life and is just a fraction of a millimeter thicker that its previous Series 2. And it will have the same phone number as a customer’s iPhone, which will still be required for the initial set up of the watch.
Apple said that all four major US carriers will offer service for the watch, and AT&T Inc and T-Mobile US Inc both said it would cost an extra $10 a month.
Analysts generally believe the new connectivity could ignite sales, though there is little consensus as to how much.
At $399, the new Watch is only slightly more expensive than the previous model, the $329 Series 2, which introduced standalone GPS capability. That $70 extra buys much more useful capabilities — including the ability to stream music from Apple Music.
“The third time is the charm for the watch,” said Bob O’Donnell of Techanalysis Research.
What may hold some consumers back is the monthly recurring charge, which would far exceed the extra cost of the Series 3 over older watches over time, said Brian Blau, an Apple analyst with Gartner. “Yes, you do have to pay for that extra data plan, but it sounds like the carriers are at least going to make it relatively easy to do,” Blau said.
Apple does not say how many Apple Watches it sells. Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi believes Apple will sell 12 million watches in its fiscal 2017 and 14 million to 15 million in fiscal 2018. Gene Munster with Loup Ventures predicted a much bigger bump, to 26 million units in 2018.
Either way, Apple is putting new pressure on smartwatch rivals such as Fitbit Inc and Garmin Ltd, which would be hard-pressed from a technical and business standpoint to match Apple’s wireless features.
But the new Apple Watch still requires an iPhone, which Fitbit believes leaves it ample market room to sell wearable devices that work with all phones, not just iPhones. “With Android comprising approximately 80 percent of the global smartphone market, broad compatibility remains a core differentiator for Fitbit,” the company said in a statement to Reuters.
Garmin did not immediately respond to a request for comment outside normal business hours.
The Watch will remain a blip in Apple’s sales, which were $215 billion last year. But it may be taking its place as part of a family of products that Apple loyalists cannot do without — all by making a schoolboy fantasy from the 1940s into reality for the masses.