WASHINGTON, September 13, 2017 – As they do every year, Apple bigwigs made a big splash with their annual September product announcement gala. Long a key fall event in San Francisco, Apple’s main event was held this year for the very first time in the company’s new Steve Jobs Theater, part of the company’s still evolving spaceship campus in Cupertino.
Dozens of sites and columns with better connections than I have are loaded with juicy technical details – and occasional criticisms – of Apple’s updated iPhone line. So I’ll leave the low-level tech-weenie/nerd stuff to them and give you a short checklist of phones and features you’ll see in these new handheld devices, which boast redesigned bodies, brighter and more detailed screen colors and resolutions, and considerably evolved camera units.
This one’s the long-anticipated 10th anniversary, Rolls-Royce of the iPhone product line. And for heaven’s sake, don’t call it the “iPhone X.” Haven’t we already learned from our experiences with OS X that “X” is pronounced “Ten”? So, repeat after me: iPhone Ten. Good. Now we’re politically correct.
- Costs $999 more or less.
- Ready to ship on November 3, 2017.
- Physical design highlighted by all-glass device back, “pearlescent” finish, full screen front, no front button, “3-D” touch.
- Available colors currently include space gray and silver.
- Amped up features headed up by fancy new “super retina” screen boasting 2.7 million pixels, promoted as the highest pixel density resolution ever for an iPhone. 1 million-to-one contrast ratio on new 5.8-inch OLED display.
- Boasts an additional 2 hours of battery life per charge over earlier models.
- Supports wireless charging via upcoming iOS 11.
- Facial recognition ID security implemented in this model, though it could prove quirky in its initial iteration.
- Super upgraded camera components. (See below.)
iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus
- Costs roughly $50-200 more than previous model, with the 8 Plus model coming in at the higher price points.
- Latest “normal” upgrade includes heavier duty “aerospace grade” enclosure materials, said to consist of “super-strong “glass and steel-reinforced case.
- Upgraded display and speakers.
- Wireless charging under new iOS 11.
- New, more powerful A11 “Bionic” processor purportedly 25-70 percent faster than iPhone 7 processors.
- New Apple-designed graphics processor.
- New sensors in a dual camera, plus “machine learning,” should result in better videos with less background noise, improvements more notable in the Plus model.
- Like the iPhone X, iPhone 8 models will feature 3-D touch technology and new and better speakers
Note: While iOS 11 is supposed to support wireless charging and recharging, the company’s “AirPower” wireless charging system won’t be revealed until 2018. So it’s uncertain when wireless charging for these new phones will actually become a reality, though it will likely happen sooner rather than later.
While Apple’s new iPhones were the stars of this show, Apple’s enigmatic Apple TV strategy took a modest leap forward at Tuesday’s Cupertino event. The fact still remains, however, that the available features touted on the upgrade to this once-promising device are having a hard time keeping up with those offered by more widely-implemented (and better priced) devices like Roku. At any rate, here’s what’s up with:
- Apple’s first upgrade to Apple TV since 2015 is now called Apple TV 4K.
- Device can be ordered starting Friday, September 15, 2017, with availability starting a week later on September 22.
- Cost: $179 for 32 GB set top box, $199 for 64 GB edition.
- Powered by new Apple-designed chip used in current iPads, device capable of higher resolution content from cooperating streaming video providers. Company currently working with Netflix and others to make this a reality.
- Live sports and news to be added to Apple TV coverage, though with dying ESPN being fundamentally transformed into MSNBC 2, it’s hard to imagine that this addition will have much impact for disgruntled sports fans.
Not done yet. There’s more:
Apple Watch 3
- Here’s the big breakthrough Apple Watch adopters have long awaited: Built-in cellular/wireless data untethered at last from the iPhone. This makes the new Apple Watch Series 3 a standalone device for the first time.
- Like Apple TV, order period starts Sept. 15, 2017, and the Watch begins shipping a week later on Sept. 22.
- Physical watch is the same size as the previous model and will make use of your current iPhone telephone number.
- Watch 3 adds more health-oriented features, including recovery heart rate, can stream “millions of songs,” and powers up Siri support.
- Tech stuff: Dual-core processor, more power efficient (implying longer battery life between charges.
- Apple Watch is the #1 watch in the world, ahead of traditional brands, Apple CEO Tim Cook boasted, demonstrating over 50 percent growth when compared to the previous fiscal year.
- Apple’s retail outlets have undergone “rethinking” and will be gradually updated to a new format through 2018.
As we predicted in an earlier column, Apple’s recently high-flying stock came down to earth Tuesday even before the big Cupertino show began. The stock (symbol: AAPL) is dropping further on Wednesday, currently standing (as of 12:44 p.m. ET) at $159.22 per share, off $1.65 per share for a current -1.01% loss on the day. However, for the moment at least, the stock has recovered from its morning low of $157.91 per share.
Those looking to get into the stock before it starts climbing again, (which it often does after its customary post-September Event selloff), might start looking for an entry point here. On the other hand, Apple pessimists figure this company has already peaked forever and are at least implying the selloff should continue.
We’ve successfully and profitably used Apple products since 1983 and still find them to be easier to use and much more economical to use than competing products.
For example, a current MacBook Pro that we own is now in its 8th year of service. It’s still fairly robust, indicating you get a lot for the premium price Apple charges for its devices. We expect this trend to continue.
This little secret, which the routinely Microsoft-centric press never notices or reports, accounts in large part, we think, for the continued loyalty of Apple customers, auguring well for future profitable upgrade cycles.
In addition, in another facet of Apple’s business rarely reported in the press, Apple’s iTunes, App Store and Apple Pay features continue to generate a significant and increasing portion of the company’s over all sales and profitability, creating a reliable revenue stream that has become to some extent, impervious to the vagaries of device sales.
Ditto Apple’s “Car Play,” which is becoming more common in the automotive world. Increasing new cars modeled manufactured by a variety of vendors now offer this convenient and competitive Apple interface.
The main downside to Apple’s stock for some analysts is the disappearance – at least for now – of Apple’s vaunted “iCar” autonomous automobile, which, at least informationally, has dropped into some distant black hole. No word as to whether the company has placed a Cone of Silence over this effort or dropped it entirely. The shrinkage of staff devoted to the effort would seem to support the latter of these two theories.
Bottom line: If you’re a fan of Apple as a key growth stock, there may be an entry point here, given the current action of the stock. But if you think the company is becoming another IBM and/or Microsoft – boring, but stable and predictable with good dividends – and if you prefer faster action in your portfolio, you might want to look somewhere else to bolster your portfolio.
As for us, we’re undecided at the moment. AAPL can be volatile, and we’ve won a few rounds and lost a few rounds trading this stock. We’re tempted to get in here for the upgrade cycle. But we’d hate to the move until most of the fickle AAPL traders have exited their positions. Alas, given our lack of supercomputing capacity here, this will have to be an educated guess at best.