Apple is holding its annual iPhone-centric event on Tuesday, September 14, and like last year, it will be entirely digital. We’ve been hearing rumors about what’s coming for many months now, so we have a good idea of what to expect.
We’re expecting the new iPhone 13 models and Apple Watch Series 7 models to debut at the event, along with new Apple Watch bands and iPhone cases. We could also get the AirPods 3, and there are also other products on the horizon like new iPads and the M1X MacBook Pro, but with Apple rumored to be holding multiple events over the next few months, this one may have more of an iPhone focus.
This guide highlights everything that we’re expecting to see at the September event based on the rumors we’ve heard so far.
Apple will release four iPhones in 2021, including a 5.4-inch iPhone 13 mini, a 6.1-inch iPhone 13, a 6.1-inch iPhone 13 Pro, and a 6.7-inch iPhone 13 Pro Max. If that sounds a lot like the iPhone 12 lineup, well, it is.
The iPhone 13 models will be almost identical to the iPhone 12 models, and we’re expecting few design changes. That said, the new models might be just a little bit thicker, and there could be new colors. A darker graphite gray shade and bronze have been rumored, but not confirmed, as has a pink shade.
The side button, mute button, and volume buttons may be a bit lower and some of the biggest design changes are coming to the camera. The iPhone 13 Pro will have a bigger camera bump and the iPhone 13 mini and iPhone 13 will have lenses arranged diagonally. Camera bumps may be thicker, but individual lenses will protrude less.
On the front side, we’re expecting a smaller Face ID notch with the speaker moving to the top edge of the display. There may be some improvements to Face ID itself, but we haven’t heard that from a reliable source.
The iPhone 13 Pro models are rumored to be getting a 120Hz “ProMotion” display to finally put the iPhone on par with the iPad Pro. This will be enabled through new low-power LTPO backplane technology, which may also facilitate an always-on display similar to what we have on the current Apple Watch models.
Inside, the iPhone 13 models will have a 5-nanometer A15 chip and as with all updates to the A-series chip, it’s expected to bring faster performance and efficiency improvements that will boost battery life.
Qualcomm’s X60 modem will bring faster 5G connection speeds and better 5G coverage, and Apple is expected to bring super-fast mmWave connectivity to more countries. As for WiFi, iPhone 13 models may support the latest WiFi 6E specification.
Apple is rumored to be using bigger batteries in all the iPhone 13 models, which might bring longer battery life, but the always-on display and 120Hz refresh rate might eat some of that up on the Pro models. We’ve heard a rumor that wired charging might be faster with support for up to 25W, and reverse wireless charging is a possibility but hasn’t been confirmed by a reliable source.
Camera technology improves each year, and rumors suggest all of the new iPhones are getting updated features. Some of the biggest improvements will come to the iPhone 13 Pro, which is expected to be on par with the iPhone 13 Pro Max this year with a better telephoto lens.
The iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max are expected to get sensors with larger pixels to improve photos in low-light conditions, and the Ultra Wide camera on these models will feature autofocus and an improved f/1.8 aperture for low-light improvements. The sensor-shift stabilization feature available in the Pro models is expected to come to the entire iPhone 13 lineup for much better stability for the Wide camera. On the Pro models, the Ultra Wide camera may also use sensor-shift stabilization.
A new cinematic video mode will work like Portrait mode but for video, and Apple is adding ProRes support to the Pro models, which is the video equivalent of ProRAW. The built-in camera filters will be improved and will be applied to objects and people more precisely rather than being overlaid on the entire photo, plus Night Mode could get better colors and new features for recognizing the night sky.
The iPhone 13 models may support up to 1TB storage for the first time, up from the prior 512GB maximum.
There were rumors of a portless design and under-display Touch ID, but those did not pan out and we’re no longer expecting those features. For more detail on what’s coming in the iPhone 13 lineup, we have a dedicated iPhone 13 roundup.
Apple Watch Series 7
No new health features are expected for the Apple Watch this year, but it is getting the first redesign we’ve seen since 2018. The Apple Watch Series 7 will better match the iPhone 13 because it’s adopting the same flat-edged design, which is a major change from the curved edges the Apple Watch has had since its 2015 introduction.
The Apple Watch Series 7 will come in new 41mm and 45mm size options, up from 40mm and 44mm. Combined with thinner bezels, this will allow for significantly larger displays that will also include a new lamination technique that brings the display closer to the watch’s surface.
We could see new color options, such as a green color that could join or replace the blue shade introduced last year. Rumors have been mixed on whether the new design will make the Series 7 thicker or thinner, so we’ll have to wait to see.
An updated S7 chip will be included in the Series 7, and because it’s smaller, it leaves more room for other components like a bigger battery. New wireless connectivity is expected, as is an improved version of the current U1 Ultra Wideband chip.
Apple is designing new Series 7-exclusive watch faces to go with the larger displays, including a Modular Max face, a Continuum face, and a new world time watch face. Alongside the launch of the new watch, Apple is debuting new “Time to Run” and “Audio Meditations” features that will accompany the “Time to Walk” option that was introduced earlier this year.
Apple has reportedly been having some difficulties ramping up mass production of the Apple Watch Series 7, so while we expect to see an introduction at this event, its actual launch could be delayed a bit compared to the iPhone 13 or initially available only in very limited quantities.
For more on the Apple Watch Series 7, we have a dedicated guide that aggregates everything we know about it so far.
Apple’s most affordable earbuds are getting an update in 2021, and it could come at the September event, although we’re a bit less certain it’s coming at this event than we are with the iPhone and Apple Watch. Whenever they arrive, the AirPods 3 will get a design overhaul with a more AirPods Pro-like look.
We’re expecting an AirPods Pro design with shorter stems, and there are mixed rumors on whether or not the new AirPods will have the same silicone tips or if they’ll retain the current no-tip design, but it’s looking like they’ll be a tipless hybrid of the current AirPods and AirPods Pro.
The case is shorter and wider than the current AirPods case and is more similar to the AirPods Pro case.
New internal hardware with an updated wireless chip is a possibility, and we could see extended range and battery life improvements. The AirPods 3 won’t get AirPods Pro features like Noise Cancellation, and they’ll still be the most affordable AirPods.
New Software Updates
Apple is expected to release iOS 15, iPadOS 15, watchOS 8, and tvOS 15 just a few days ahead of when the new iPhone models are set to become available.
If the iPhone models are announced on the 14th and are set to launch on the 24th, for example, we could see the software updates launch on the 22nd.
Alternatively, some of the software updates could come as soon as the 15th if Apple repeats last year’s timing. Either way, Apple will let us know the launch dates for the software on event day.
If Apple follows its recent pattern of releases, macOS Monterey may be released a bit after iOS 15 and its sister updates so we may not see Monterey until later in September or in October.
Expected Later This Year
Last year, Apple held events in September, October, and November, and it was an autumn event extravaganza. Multiple events proved to be successful, and it’s something we’re also counting on this year.
2020 was a special situation because of the iPhone delay, so we may only get two events this year, but three is still a possibility. Here’s what we may see at events held in October and/or November:
- MacBook Pro – Apple is working on an updated version of the MacBook Pro that will come in 14 and 16-inch size options. It will have thinner bezels and a larger display, along with a redesigned chassis. It will mark the return of MagSafe connectivity over USB-C, and Apple is also bringing back the HDMI port and SD card slot. The new MacBook Pro models will do away with the Touch Bar in favor of a row of function keys, and in many ways, this redesign will mark a return to the pre-2016 MacBook Pro. Most notably, the upcoming MacBook Pro models will use a new “M1X” chip that’s an upgrade to the M1.
- Mac mini – According to Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman, Apple is working on a new version of the Mac mini that will feature an M1X chip. This new Mac mini will replace the current Intel version of the Mac mini and it is coming “in the next several months.”
- iPad 9 – There is a new version of the low-cost iPad in development and it’s expected to launch before the end of the year. It will continue to have a Home button, but it will get an updated 10.5-inch display and it could be thinner and lighter than prior models. A faster A-series chip is also expected.
- iPad mini 6 – Apple has major changes in store for the iPad mini 6, which is expected to be updated with an all-display design. Like the iPad Air, it will have no Home button and it could feature a Touch ID power button.
How to Watch
The iPhone 13 event will kick off on Tuesday, September 14 at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time. Apple will live stream the event on its website and on YouTube.
For those unable to watch, MacRumors will have live coverage of the event both on MacRumors.com and through our MacRumorsLive Twitter account.