What to Expect at the Apple Event: New Apple Watch Series 6, iPad Air, No iPhone 12
Last Minute Updates
Some last minute leaks have come in ahead of Tuesday's event, confirming which devices we can expect to see Apple unveil, and which features those devices might offer.
AirPods and iOS 14
Apple introduced a new version of the AirPods Pro firmware that supports spatial audio for the first time. Spatial audio is an iOS 14 feature that enables a stereo surround-style experience on iPhone and iPad. The release of the firmware right before the event suggests that we will likely see the Gold Master of iOS 14 tomorrow with a public release coming a week later.
According to often-accurate analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the event will not include new iPhones, and will instead focus on new Apple Watch and iPad Air models. Kuo believes the new Apple Watch models will have a similar form factor to the Series 5, with the key new feature being blood oxygen sensing.
Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has shared similar expectations, and he too expects Tuesday's event to focus on the Apple Watch Series 6 and the iPad Air, while the new iPhone 12 models will come in October. Gurman is expecting blood oxygen monitoring for the Apple Watch Series 6, along with a new lower-end Apple Watch model and an all-screen iPad Air.
Both the Apple Watch Series 6 and the new low-cost Apple Watch (which some are calling "Apple Watch SE") are expected to come in 40 and 44mm size options with GPS and LTE models available.
Jon Prosser, who has a mixed record when it comes to leaks, this morning shared details about Apple's long-awaited AirTags and the smaller HomePod that Apple is working on. Prosser says it is "likely" that AirTags will be unveiled alongside the HomePod mini at Apple's event tomorrow. Both products are "technically ready," and "in terms of production schedule, they are done, and could possibly be announced."
In addition, proven leaker known as "L0vetodream" has said that the Apple Watch Series 6 would come in a new, unspecified color and perhaps have fast-charging functionality. Given that the iPhone 12 has been repeatedly rumored by a variety of reliable sources to be arriving in a new blue color, it seems likely that the new color will be blue to match.
We may also see a new 8th-generation low-cost iPad tomorrow, according to leaker Evan Blass. The updated tablet is expected to feature an A12X chip and it will continue to offer a Lightning port.
Make sure to read on below for more of what we expect to see.
Apple is holding a digital-only fall event on Tuesday, September 15, but this year's event may be different from other September events we've had in the past because we might not see iPhone announcements.
Current rumors indicate Apple's September 15 event, which features the tagline "Time Flies," will focus on the Apple Watch Series 6 and new iPads, with a second iPhone-focused event coming in October. We've rounded up everything we know about the products that Apple might announce at the event so you know what to expect when Tuesday rolls around.
The bundle would allow customers to subscribe to several different Apple services in a discounted package. These packages could include Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, iCloud, and Apple News+. Apple is also rumored to be launching a fitness subscription service as well. If Apple introduces Apple One at Tuesday's event, it could introduce this new fitness service as well, which would also potentially be available in the Apple One bundles.
The service would offer virtual fitness and workout classes via an app for iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV.
Apple Watch Series 6
Apple releases iterative updates to the Apple Watch each year, and this year's Apple Watch Series 6 is expected to feature the same design as the Apple Watch Series 5, with no external design changes that we know of at this time.
It could feature a new system-on-a-chip that will bring performance and battery life improvements, along with better water resistance and improved wireless transmission for faster WiFi and cellular speeds. A battery said to be for the Series 6 has leaked and it features 303.8mAh, which is not a huge improvement over the current 296mAh battery in the Series 5, so any battery life gains are likely to come from efficiency improvements.
Right now, rumors suggest the biggest feature we'll see in the Series 6 is blood oxygen monitoring, which would let the Apple Watch detect and monitor the oxygen levels in the blood.
Normal blood oxygen is between 95 and 100 percent, and when blood oxygen levels drop below that, it can be indicative of a serious health problem that needs immediate medical attention.
According to code for the Apple Watch found in iOS 14, the Apple Watch will provide notifications when blood oxygen levels drop below a healthy threshold, so Apple Watch owners can get quick help when affected by a respiratory or cardiac problem. The feature is of immediate interest in the pandemic because the virus can cause oxygen levels to drop and people experiencing reduced oxygen intake need emergency assistance.
Along with blood oxygen levels, there have been loose rumors about mental health capabilities that would let the Apple Watch Series 6 detect panic attacks or high levels of stress, with the watch then providing breathing exercises to help calm people down. If rumors are accurate, such a feature could take into account blood oxygen levels, heart rate, breathing rate, and other data to determine stress level.
Alongside the Apple Watch Series 6, we could see a new lower-cost Apple Watch option that replaces the Series 3. One rumor suggests that the new low-cost Apple Watch will be a modified Series 4 in 40 and 44mm size options with features like the ECG app and always-on display removed to keep the price more affordable.
The information about a new lower-cost watch comes from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, who often shares reliable info about Apple's plans, while the detail about a modified Series 4 comes from leaker Jon Prosser, who has a mixed track record when it comes to leaks.
Want to know more about the next-generation Apple Watch? Make sure to check out our Apple Watch roundup.
Rumors about the next-generation iPad Air are exciting because it looks like this could be the first Apple device that features Touch ID that's available outside of the standard Home button.
The iPad Air is said to feature an all-display design much like the iPad Pro, with a 10.8 to 11-inch screen size. Instead of featuring a notch, rumors have suggested the iPad Air will feature Touch ID, either under the display or built into the Side button of the device.
We don't typically get as much information about iPad rumors as we do about iPhone rumors, so it's still unclear which Touch ID method we can expect, if Touch ID is indeed planned for the iPad Air.
Like the iPad Pro, the next-generation iPad Air could feature a USB-C port instead of a Lightning port, which would allow for charging with USB-C cables, and Apple may release a Magic Keyboard alongside it.
Other iPad Air rumors suggest it will feature a Smart Connector (for the aforementioned Magic Keyboard), four stereo speakers, and an A14 chip.
Many of the rumors about the new iPad Air have made it unclear if the information pertains to the iPad Air or the low-cost iPad, so it's not clear where the more affordable iPad stands. Apple could also be planning a low-cost iPad refresh, but iPad rumors have been confusing enough that we aren't quite sure what to expect.
For more on what we know about the iPad Air, check out our iPad Air roundup.
In Case There Are iPhones
Apple's September 15 event is supposedly going to focus on the iPad and the Apple Watch rather than the iPhone, which is hard to believe because we've had a September iPhone event for years now, but everything is different this year because of the ongoing health crisis.
iPhones aren't coming out until October because of production delays, so the word is Apple wants to announce the iPhones closer to their October launch date rather than in September when customers have to wait more than a month to get their hands on the new devices. We're getting a September event with the iPad and Apple Watch (and maybe some extras), and there will presumably be a second October event for the iPhone.
In case that info is wrong and we do get iPhone announcements at the September 15 event, here's what to expect:
Apple is releasing a total of four iPhones in 2020, adding one extra to the 2019 lineup. There will be two lower-cost affordable iPhones and two more expensive Pro models. The lower-cost iPhones will come in 5.4 and 6.1-inch sizes, and the pricier Pro models will come in 6.1 and 6.7-inch sizes.
The 5.4-inch iPhone will be the smallest iPhone that Apple has introduced since the 2016 iPhone SE, while the 6.7-inch iPhone will be the biggest iPhone released to date.
We have part leaks, renderings, schematics, and a lot more detail on what to expect from the new iPhone 12 models over in our full iPhone 12 roundup, which is a must read for those who are interested in what's coming.
All four iPhones are expected to feature edge-to-edge displays and Face ID with notches, but this year, they're all going to have OLED displays with Apple doing away with LCD. There were rumors about smaller notches, but it doesn't look like Apple is shrinking the notch design with this year's iPhones.
The Pro models might also have 120Hz ProMotion displays, also an iPad Pro feature, but rumors are mixed on this point and it's not clear if Apple has worked out battery life issues caused by higher display refresh rates.
Design wise, Apple is expected to introduce some changes. Rather than the rounded edges that we've had since the launch of the iPhone 6, the iPhone 12 lineup is expected to feature a design with a flat-edge frame similar to the iPad Pro or the iPhone 4. The Pro models will have a stainless steel frame while the lower-end models will have an aluminum frame, and all four will have glass fronts and backs.
A rumored navy blue color might replace the midnight green in the Pro models, and the more affordable iPhones could also get some new color options.
The more expensive iPhones will have three-camera setups and at least one of the Pro models will have a LiDAR Scanner like the iPad Pro, though it's possible both models will have LiDAR sensors. LiDAR Scanners will bring new AR and photographic capabilities. The more affordable iPhones will feature dual-lens camera setups much like the iPhone 11.
The three-lens camera setups could come with an improved telephoto lens with 3x optical zoom and improved Smart HDR for better low-light performance. Better image stabilization could also be coming to the ultra wide-angle lenses, and new camera modes might let the Pro models shoot 4K videos at 120 and 240 frames per second.
All of the 2020 iPhones will have 5G modem chips, but there are two kinds of 5G, and it looks like the iPhone 12 Pro models will be the only ones to support the fastest 5G, which is mmWave 5G. mmWave 5G is short range and will be used in cities and urban areas, while Sub-6GHz 5G is slower than mmWave but longer range and more appropriate for widespread use. For more on the differences between mmWave and Sub-6GHz 5G, make sure to read our guide.
Apple will equip all of this year's iPhones with a faster, more efficient 5-nanometer A14 chip, which will bring performance and efficiency improvements for speedier operation and perhaps longer battery life to compensate for the 5G battery drain. As for RAM, the Pro models are expected to get 6GB RAM, while the iPhone 12 models could have 4GB RAM.
Because 5G modem chips are so expensive, Apple is looking to cut costs. Rumors suggest the iPhone 12 models won't ship with a power adapter or EarPods in the box, but Apple will offer a 20W power adapter that can be purchased separately.
Japanese site Mac Otakara believes that Apple's long-rumored AirTags are finally going to launch this fall. The site said alongside new iPhones, so we might not see the AirTags at this event, but it's a possibility.
AirTags are Tile-like Bluetooth tracking devices meant to be attached to items like keys, wallets, cameras, and odds and ends that are valuable and easily lost. With AirTags, these items can be tracked right in the Find My app right alongside iPhones, iPads, and Macs.
We don't know what AirTags will look like but based on images found in iOS, they could be small, circular tags with built-in Bluetooth and ultra-wideband support. Ultra-wideband is notable because iPhones with a U1 chip will be able to better track positioning with more accuracy than Bluetooth alone. If keys are lost down the couch cushion, as an example, the iPhone will be able to locate them right away.
AirTags may attach to items with rings or adhesive, and there are mixed rumors on charging. There might be a built-in rechargeable battery that works with an Apple Watch-style charging puck or a replaceable CR2032 battery.
Anything lost will show up on the Find My map with an associated address, and when the iPhone is close by a lost item, Apple may offer up an augmented reality map with specific positioning to make it easier to find what's missing. AirTags will also be able to play a sound when close to an iPhone.
iOS 13 introduced a feature that lets Apple products communicate with one another when offline, so a lost iPhone can ping off of someone else's iPhone that it comes into contact with even when there's no cellular or WiFi connection. This same feature is expected to be coming to the AirTags, and it will let millions of iPhones all around the world track lost items, giving Apple's trackers a leg up over other trackers on the market.
For more on AirTags, we have a guide that outlines all of the rumored features that we know so far.
Apple is working on high-end over-ear headphones that could be called the "AirPods Studio," and the new headphones could launch at Apple's fall event as they're expected to come out before the end of 2020.
AirPods Studio will be the third product in Apple's AirPods lineup, with Apple planning to sell the headphones alongside the AirPods and the AirPods Pro. Like the AirPods Pro, the AirPods Studio will feature Active Noise Cancellation to minimize ambient noise.
Other features may include equalizer adjustments available through an iOS or Mac device, and head and neck detection, which would work similarly to the ear detection in the AirPods but would be able to tell if the headphones are on the head or around the neck.
An orientation feature will allow the AirPods Studio to detect the left and right ears for routing audio channels, and there will be no right or wrong side for wearing the headphones.
Bloomberg believes Apple is working on two designs for the AirPods Studio. One is a higher-end premium version and one is fitness-focused and made from more breathable and lighter weight materials.
Both versions are expected to include magnetic ear cups and headband padding that can be swapped out for a customizable look, similar to Apple Watch bands. We don't know what the AirPods Studio will cost, but rumors predict the new headphones will cost about $349.
We have more info on the AirPods Studio in our AirPods Studio roundup.
More Affordable HomePod
Apple's original HomePod hasn't sold well even with price cuts due to its high price point in comparison to competing products like the Amazon Echo and Google Home, so Apple is working on a smaller, more affordable version that could launch this year.
We don't know a whole lot about this smaller, cheaper HomePod, but it's expected to feature the same general HomePod form factor, just shrunken down, and Apple could remove some of the tweeters (dropping from seven to two) to cut the price.
Wireless Charging Mat
Apple nixed its AirPower charging mat in March 2019, but behind the scenes, work has continued on some kind of wireless charging product. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who often shares accurate insight into Apple's plans, says that Apple is working on a "small wireless charging mat."
We don't really know any other reliable information about the charging mat that's in development, but presumably it won't be on the scale of the AirPower, which rumors say failed because of issues with overheating and interference.
First Apple Silicon Mac
Apple in June officially announced its work on its own Arm-based Apple Silicon chips designed for Macs, which will be similar to the A-series chips that are used in iOS devices. These chips are designed in-house by Apple and will lead to higher-performance and more efficient Macs that have deeper integration between hardware and software.
Apple will be ditching Intel chips in favor of its Apple Silicon chips and Apple is planning to transition the entire Mac lineup to Apple Silicon hardware. That transition starts in 2020, and Apple has promised to release the first Arm-based Mac before the end of the year.
There is no official word on which Mac will be the first to get an Apple Silicon chip, but rumors have suggested it will be the MacBook Pro, which could perhaps come in a new 14-inch variant to replace the 13.3-inch MacBook Pro. The MacBook Air and a new 24-inch iMac are also expected to be some of the first Macs to be updated with Apple Silicon chips, and there have even been rumors about a new 12-inch MacBook with Apple's chip technology.
Whichever Mac is released with an Apple Silicon chip, it's coming sometime in the fall of 2020. We could perhaps see it announced at Apple's September 15 event, but it may be a bit early for Apple to debut the new Mac, so it's not a sure thing.
We have a lot more information on the Apple Silicon chips and what the transition away from Intel will look like in our Apple Silicon guide.
Apple will live stream its September 15 event on the Apple Events website, YouTube, and in the Apple TV app on the Apple TV. For those unable to watch, MacRumors will provide live coverage here on MacRumors.com and through our MacRumorsLive Twitter account.