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What to Expect From Apple’s September iPhone Event

[Update: The iPhone event will be held Sept. 12 and Images of the new iPhone have reportedly leaked]

September is just a few short days away, so speculation about Apple’s annual late summer announcements is running rampant. We’ve rounded up the best available rumors to provide you with our best estimate of what may be announced to the public.

When and Where?
All of Apple’s big product reveals are now held at the Steve Jobs Theatre at Apple Park, except for those that are made at the World Wide Developers Conference in San Jose, California. Speculation on the date of the September event is hovering around Sept. 12 based on the timing of previous events. That’s a Wednesday, so it’s likely that pre-orders for new iPhones and other products announced at the event may begin either on Friday, Sept. 14 or Friday, Sept. 21. My personal guess is Friday the 14th.

As for the release of the new operating systems, that could happen either on Wednesday, Sept. 12 or (if Apple executives aren’t superstitious) on the 13th…

What’s Most Likely To Be Announce
iOS 12: Announced at the WWDC 2018 Keynote in June, iOS 12 is Apple’s next generation mobile operating system. Developers and the public have both had an opportunity to put the operating system through exhaustive beta testing, and it seems to be pretty stable at this point. New features include:

  • Significant performance improvements
  • New FaceTime and Messages features such as Memoji
  • The new Screen Time tools to limit the amount of time spent on mobile devices or in specific apps
  • Improved notifications that are less disruptive and more helpful
  • Better AR features including the new Measure app for measuring lengths and areas with an iOS device
  • Photos enhancements like sharing suggestions, places search and events search
  • Better portrait mode lighting in the Camera app
  • The addition of the Stocks and Voice Memos apps to iPad, as well as a redesigned Apple Books app

One feature that won’t make it to iOS 12 is Group FaceTime, which was pulled from the latest beta versions of iOS 12. There’s a good chance that it will be added to a later ”dot” release of iOS 12, but Apple apparently feels it needs more work.

macOS Mojave's Dark Mode and Group FaceTime -- the latter is a feature that won't make it to the initial release
macOS Mojave’s Dark Mode and Group FaceTime — the latter is a feature that won’t make it to the initial release

MacOS 10.14 Mojave: As with iOS 12, Mojave has been in testing for nearly three months and — from personal experience — is very stable. I’m using Mojave on a production MacBook Pro, something I have refused to do with previous beta versions of macOS. I’ve experienced no crashes, no incompatibilities with existing apps, and the OS (in my opinion)  is faster, more stable, and more refined that macOS High Sierra. New features announced for Mojave include:

  • Much better performance on most Macs
  • An all-new dark mode — I love this mode!
  • Dynamic Desktop that changes wallpaper based on the time of day
  • Stacks
  • Quick Actions
  • An all-new screenshots tool
  • The addition of the Home and Voice Memos apps to macOS
  • A redesigned Mac App Store
  • Improved privacy and security features

Under macOS High Sierra my MacBook Pro acted quite “flaky” when I popped the top of the laptop. Most of the time it would act as if I had rebooted the device instead of just waking it from sleep, and it took forever to log in. Touch ID never worked for me. Now it responds as I expect — I open the lid of the MBP and tap on the Touch ID pad on the Touch Bar, and I’m logged in. 

I have to say that one of my favorite features (other than Quick Actions) is quite simple. I use 2-factor authentication for a number of websites, and now Mojave automatically enters the numbers from the incoming text messages into the 2-factor authentication fields. 

New iPhones: Three new iPhones are expected at this event, and we’re not going to even try to imagine the naming convention. The first phone is expected to be similar to the iPhone X, with a 5.8-inch screen size. The next will be a 6.1-inch model, which may or may not have the same OLED display as the current iPhone X, while the last will be a super-sized iPhone X with a 6.5-inch OLED screen. With phones sporting screens of this size, who needs an iPad mini?

So the big deal will be screen size; all three models are expected to have screens that are the same or significantly larger than the 2017 models.

Apple Watch Series 4: A new Apple Watch series with a reduced-size bezel — making the watch smaller — is expected this year as well. Considering the popularity of the LTE model of the Series 3, expect that to continue to be an option with the newer Apple Watch. A long shot would be the addition of a FaceTime camera to the Apple Watch…

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images via Forbes
Apple AirPower charger. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images via Forbes

AirPower: Remember Apple’s all-in-one charging pad that would charge your iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods? It was announced a year ago, but still hasn’t made it to market. This would be a perfect time for Apple to roll out not only the AirPower pad, but the new AirPods case that will work with the pad.

New MacBook Air: High on the list of expected announcements is that of a new MacBook Air. It’s been three years since the low-cost MacBook has been updated, and all rumors point toward a new 13-inch model with a Retina display — something that’s been lacking in previous MacBook Airs. I can’t see Apple delivering a new Mac without moving it to the latest port technology, so expect the new MBA to have one USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 port (I can’t see Apple wanting to raise the cost of the MacBook Air by adding a second port). 

New iPad Pro: The 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pros could both use an upgrade, and what better time to do so than now. Rumors have pointed to several new models with much smaller bezels and — you guessed it — Face ID. 

You know what else I’d like to see with the iPad Pro? Replacing the Lightning port with a USB-C / Thunderbolt 3 port. It would speed transfers tremendously and open this “Pro” device to high-end peripherals. Imagine being able to connect to a large 4K display with a single cable, perhaps being able to back up the iPad Pro to a Thunderbolt 3 drive. This is unlikely, but I can dream, can’t I?

New iMacs, both 21.5-inch 4K and 27-inch 5K models: I use an iMac as my main work computer, and I’d love to see Apple create a new 27-inch 5K model that’s not as thick and heavy as the existing version. It’s quite possible — removing the bezel from around the 5K display would drop the size considerably, moving from hard disk drives / Fusion drives to solid-state drives (SSDs) exclusively could help reduce the thickness of the device, and removing all legacy ports in favor of USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 would bring the workhorse platform up to the new standard. 

Once again, I’d expect Apple to move Face ID to the iMac. Hopefully, the rather dated FaceTime camera will be updated to at least a 1080p 16:9 camera (if not 4K), and the “bezel notch” will include the other sensors required to enable Face ID.

Remote Possibility
New Mac mini Targeted at Pro Users: Several rumor sites have pointed to a new Mac mini targeted to professional users (the “prosumer market”), but we’ve all been disappointed for the past few years. I’d be very happy if Apple created a new user-expandable Mac mini with multiple USB-C (3.1) / Thunderbolt 3 ports, but I’ve had my hopes dashed before and I honestly don’t think it’s going to happen this fall.

Whatever the case, Apple is likely to both surprise and disappoint those of us who watch the company for signs of new innovations in its product line. At least there’s less than one month to wait for the latest announcement.

Steve Sande
the authorSteve Sande
Contributing Author
Steve has been writing about Apple products since 1986, starting on a bulletin board system, creating the first of his many Apple-related websites in 1994, joining the staff of The Unofficial Apple Weblog in 2008, and founding Apple World Today in 2015. He’s semi-retired, loves to camp and take photos, and is an FAA-licensed drone pilot.
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  • I love my iPad mini. I really want a newer/updated one though as it is getting long in the tooth. I don’t want a huge phone. I’d like a normal size phone and a new iPad mini please. Thanks.

  • Steve, I also use a 27″ iMac 5K (Late 2015), and while I think you’re right about the SSD, and the USB-C, it would jack the price up once again. My 2015 version is a feather compared to the beastly 2009 27″ that is still in service.

  • I have been working with Mojave Public Beta which has been the most stable beta I have ever participated in.

    However, the big fail in my opinion of Mojave is the redesigned MacApp Store. It brings with it all of the short comings of the iOS App Store and no added usefulness whatsoever and is a serious downgrade from the current MacApp Store.