For months, Apple fans have been furiously speculating about what the company has in store for the big event. Rumors have leaked out in dribs and drabs, often thanks to unnamed sources in Apple’s supply chain or eagle-eyed developers poring through early iOS 11 builds. Over the weekend, a major leak — apparently from within Apple — may have spilled some (or even most) of the beans.
Woven into the background of all of these product rumors is, of course, the lingering question of whether Apple can ever repeat the innovation it displayed with the first iPhone after ten years of evolution. Questions about Apple’s ability to innovate have plagued the company since the death of co-founder Steve Jobs, and this provides a big opportunity for Apple to shake those doubts.
We’ll be on-site in Cupertino, Calif., at Apple’s new $5 billion headquarters to bring you all the latest news. You can check back here at 12:30 p.m. for live updates. But, to tide you over until the lights go down, here’s a rundown of what you can expect from today’s event:
Three new iPhones
We’re expecting three phones today: a basic iPhone, an iPhone Plus and a tenth-anniversary edition. According to the leak over the weekend, that will likely be an iPhone 8, an iPhone 8 Plus and an iPhone X.
That means Apple’s skipping the iPhone 7s name altogether, which may be confusing to some but could indicate a cleaner break from the last generation of phones we’ve seen. The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are expected to get serious speed upgrades and improvements to the camera software for pictures and Apple’s augmented reality push.
All models may also get a wireless charging option, which would be a first for any iPhone.
The $1,000 iPhone X
Looking at the iPhone X specifically, analyst and Apple enthusiasts expect this tenth-anniversary iPhone to be completely redesigned. The key difference is likely to be an all-screen front, similar to what we’ve seen from Samsung’s “Edge” phones. The iPhone X is also expected to have an OLED screen, which would be a first for the iPhone and could give it better battery life, more vivid colors and sharper resolution. But those screens don’t come cheap, which is why analysts expect the iPhone X will have a base price around $1,000.
The screen change would also mean that there’s no home button. Leaks have indicated that some of the traditional functions of the home button — such as summoning Siri — will move to the side-button.
But what about the fingerprint reader, which you can use to authenticate purchases from iTunes, the App Store and Apple Pay? Well, that takes us to our next expected feature …
The high-end iPhone, at least, is expected to incorporate advanced facial recognition technology, which can sense how far away something is from the camera. This creates, essentially, a 3-D selfie, which reports indicate is complete, complex and secure enough to use for financial transactions. (Facial recognition technology currently on competing phones, such as Samsung’s, can sometimes be tricked by photos.)
A more independent Apple Watch and AirPods
The Apple Watch may also see a major upgrade that allows it to do more without being tethered to your phone for a cellular connection. Being able to connect to cellular networks on its own, even if it’s just for Maps or fitness apps, could help Apple increase its appeal for people who don’t always want to keep their wrist in range of their phone.
That could be particularly useful for Apple’s core audience for the Watch: fitness buffs. The Watch could play music or podcasts, track health metrics and map out a run on its own.
Leaks over the weekend also suggest that Apple’s wireless headphones, AirPods, may get an external battery indicator on their case. Right now, that light is on the inside of the case.
A 4K-ready Apple TV
Apple’s making a big push into making its own shows and shoring up its position in the living room. A 4K-capable Apple TV set-top box would put it on par with competitors on a technical front, and also strengthen its already impressive media store. While 4K adoption has been slow to get started, analysts say it’s starting to reach a tipping point — meaning that it’s a good time for Apple to make sure it supports the ultrahigh definition standard.
Answers to lingering questions
While we think we have the highlights of what Apple’s got on tap, there are some lingering but important questions. One very practical one, for example: is Apple going to improve the battery life on its iPhones?
Apple has also been plagued by rumors that the “iPhone X” will either be delayed or perhaps in short supply at launch because of its complexity. If Apple’s unable to meet demand, it could mean a frustrating few months for Apple’s most faithful customers.