Fall is just around the corner, and Apple is hosting a live event. You know what that means—new iPhone incoming! We expect Apple to announce four variants of the iPhone 13, a slightly larger Apple Watch, and several other products during its stream. Here are all the leaks and rumors we’ve collected in anticipation.
You can tune into the California Streaming launch event Tuesday, September 14th at 1 PM EST (10 AM PST) on YouTube, Apple’s Events page, or within the Apple TV app.
Most Apple experts agree that the iPhone 13 is an iterative upgrade over its predecessor. Think of it as a refinement on the iPhone 12—we’re sticking with the same four-model lineup and flat-edged design, but with just enough improvements to make people envious.
One of the iPhone 13’s defining features may be a smaller Face ID notch, which is Apple’s first step toward an iPhone with a fully edge-to-edge display. Reports suggest that Apple could also replace the iPhone’s OLED display (introduced in 2017) with a battery-friendly LTPO panel, the same kind that Apple uses in its smartwatch.
The reduced battery impact of this LTPO panel could accommodate an Always On display, which will provide important information (such as the date and time) even when the screen is “turned off.” Always On display could make its way to older iPhones through the iOS 15 update, but I wouldn’t count on it.
There’s also a chance that Apple could stick 120Hz display panels in the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max, providing iPhone owners the buttery-smooth scrolling and gaming experience that Samsung and OnePlus users have bragged about for the last few years.
A larger battery and slightly thicker iPhone frame could help mitigate the 120Hz display’s power demand. And while Apple isn’t ready to abandon the Lightning port, it will probably stick a stronger MagSafe magnet in the iPhone 13.
Camera improvements are a given in any iPhone, as processor upgrades increase the power of Apple’s computational photography AI. That said, slightly larger camera hump could accommodate new hardware for all of the iPhone 13’s lenses, and we expect Apple to improve on the iPhone 13’s ultra-wide camera. A new astrophotography mode is also in the cards, allowing you to take better pictures of the night sky.
There are still some unknowns here, though. Rumors suggest that the iPhone 13 could contain a Qualcomm satellite radio to make calls without cell service, but there just isn’t enough info to back up this claim. We don’t know how powerful the new A14X or A15 chip is, and of course, we still aren’t 100% sure that Apple is sticking with the “unlucky” iPhone 13 name.
Apple Watch Series 7
Apple could also launch its new Series 7 Watch during the California Streaming event. But aside from a larger screen and new design, the Apple Watch Series 7 may be an underwhelming upgrade.
We expect the Apple Watch Series 7 to sport a flat-edged design, similar to what Apple uses in the latest iPhones and iPads. Leaked photos of the Apple Watch Series 7 wristband also point to a larger screen, although we don’t know the screen’s new dimensions. We’re not sure if the new Apple Watch will work with existing wristbands, unfortunately.
Improved ultra-wideband support could also make its way to the Series 7 Watch, although we’re not sure how Apple will take advantage of the feature. Either the company is trying to boost the smartwatch’s UWB-enabled features (the Find My network, iPhone unlock, etc), or the upcoming WatchOS 8 update comes with some new UWB-based software.
Some rumors suggest that Apple will release a new Watch SE this year, though it may not come until 2022 (when we expect the company to launch a “rugged” Series 7 Watch). New Apple Watch health sensors for blood glucose and body composition aren’t expected for another year or two.
AirPods Gen 3
It’s been nearly three years since Apple launched the Gen 2 AirPods, and some analysts expect Apple to launch a new Gen 3 model on September 14th. But to be honest, we really aren’t sure what new features will appear in the rumored AirPods—assuming that they even exist, of course.
Apple experts and leakers can’t seem to agree on the 3rd gen AirPods’ design or feature-set. Some sources, like Bloomberg, point to new motion sensors for fitness tracking, but not much else. Other outlets suggest that the new AirPods will support ANC and Spatial Audio, which would make sense, given the current wireless headphone market.
For what its worth, a leaked photo of the new AirPods show that they may sport a redesigned ear-tip, similar to the one that Apple uses in the AirPods Pro. This new ear-tip could keep the new AirPods from falling out of your ear and create the physical seal that’s required for ANC.
Unlikely: iPad Mini, 16-inch MacBook Pro
We’re almost certain that Apple will announce a new 16-inch MacBook Pro and iPad Mini in 2021. But if the company follows last year’s schedule, it probably won’t announce these products for another month or two. (Otherwise the Apple Event would be like 4 hours long.)
But let’s take a quick look at the new (rumored) iPad Mini and MacBook Pro, just in case.
If Apple releases an iPad Mini 6, it will probably have a larger display (still less than 9 inches) and a new flat-edged design. While it probably won’t run on an M1 chip, it could contain the same A14 Bionic chip that’s in the 2020 iPad Air.
The 16-inch MacBook Pro was expected to launch during Apple’s summer event, but may have been delayed due to supply shortages. Either way, we expect it to run on an M1X processor, which is basically an M1 chip with extra CPU and GPU cores. Rumors suggest that the new MacBook Pro could also sport MagSafe charging, an HDMI port (!), and an SD card slot.
What Does “California Streaming” Mean?
One more thing; there may be some significance to the “California Streaming” event name. Yeah, Apple is streaming its event from Cupertino, I get that. But as people lose their minds over Ted Lasso, the first genuinely successful Apple TV+ show, I can’t help but wonder what Apple has in mind.
Apple may announce a ton of new shows for Apple TV+, for instance. It could also have a new Apple tvOS software upgrade up its sleeve, or maybe an Apple TV streaming stick that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.
Or maybe Apple has a big announcement for its Music streaming service. Such an announcement would be appropriate if Apple launches its AirPods Gen 3, although I’m not sure how Apple Music could improve any more than it already has this year. After all, Apple Music gained lossless streaming and Dolby Atmos support just a few months ago.
Hey, the “California Streaming” tagline could have nothing to do with Apple’s existing services. Perhaps the company is planning to debut a game streaming platform to rival Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Netflix. It would definitely explain Apple’s refusal to allow these services on the App Store.