Apple unveils new iPhone and Fitness Watch at annual event

For the past decade, September has been the month when Apple unveiled its latest iPhones. The company has made amazing advances in technology, year after year, propelling its business as Apple becomes the most valuable company in the world.

But as the iconic device progressed and its improvements gradually increased, the tech giant shifted its focus to newer products with more runway for innovation: the Apple Watch and AirPods.

Apple on Wednesday unveiled a fitness-focused version of its wearable computer, the Apple Watch Ultra. Aimed at triathletes, remote runners, scuba divers and outback enthusiasts, the $800 rugged model boasts a larger screen and improved durability. It also has an Action button for easier use while wearing gloves, larger speakers for calls in windy conditions and a larger battery with up to 36 hours of battery life when charged.

New features of Apple’s wireless earbuds, AirPods Pro, include the ability to change the volume with the swipe of a finger.

While the iPhone still accounts for more than half of Apple’s sales, smartwatches and AirPods, which require the iPhone to function optimally, have helped the company build a fortress around its most important devices, deepening customer loyalty.

“The more products you have from Apple, the more impossible it is to leave Apple to another player,” said Francisco Jeronimo, vice president of hardware research at IDC, the market research firm. “Your entire life becomes part of one ecosystem.”

Apple has used the iPhone, which has more than a billion users, to enter new markets and conquer unrelated businesses. Apple helped revolutionize the financial industry with its credit card, the watchmaking profession with its own watch and the audio industry with its wireless headphones.

The Apple Watch Ultra is the latest example of how the company is expanding its arms. It’s pushing Apple into a corner of the Garmin-dominated smartwatch market, which brings in $2.6 billion in sales to endurance sports competitors, according to IDC. Mr. Jeronimo said that with the recognition of the Apple brand and the popularity of the iPhone, it should be able to carve out that stake. It already claims nearly 51 percent of the smartwatch market, more than double its closest competitor, Samsung.

Garmin said Wednesday that Apple’s move to adventure smartwatches has validated the business it’s built.

“We will continue to push the boundaries of GPS-enabled technology and remain committed to creating innovative products designed for active lifestyle customers around the world,” said Krista Klaus, a company spokeswoman.

In addition to the fitness-focused watch, Apple has released an update to its traditional watch, the Series 8, with a body temperature-tracking sensor and a feature called “collision detection,” which can identify when an Apple Watch wearer is in a car crash and notify Family and Emergency Services.

Apple unveiled the products at the Steve Jobs Theater on its campus in Cupertino, California, the first time it has held a production event there since 2019. The venue was packed with journalists and staff, who celebrated the return to normalcy by cheering like Tim. Cook, CEO of Apple, took the stage to deliver an informative ad detailing the new products.

Apple Watch’s new capabilities have overshadowed more modest updates to the iPhone lineup. Apple has released introductory and pricier versions of the iPhone 14 with 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch screens. Both models add satellite phone capabilities, allowing users to call emergency services in rural areas and other remote environments so they can get help if they get lost on a hike or find themselves in another stressful situation.

The cheaper iPhone 14, which costs $800, features last year’s processor, but it upgraded the front and rear cameras with larger sensors to take clearer photos in low light.

Apple has kept the biggest design changes for the iPhone 14 Pro, which costs $999, the same price as last year’s flagship phone. The new phone scrapes the bump in its Face ID system in favor of a small hole that contains the front camera and displays alerts and notifications. The phone also has an “always on” screen to illuminate information like the clock without unlocking the phone, and a slimmer black border around the screen.

Unlike the lower-priced iPhone 14, the Pro model features a new processor, the A16, which supports an improved camera with a larger sensor for better photos. It also supports new machine learning algorithms to improve image detail and sharpness.

Despite having some of the highest prices in the smartphone market, the iPhone has enjoyed a revival in business during the pandemic. In its last fiscal year, Apple reported record revenue of $192 billion from the iPhone alone, a 14-year-old device that has become known more for incremental improvements than revolutionary innovations.

Apple expects the iPhone 14 to maintain this momentum. Although other smartphone makers are cutting production as the global economy slows, Apple plans to produce more phones than it did a year ago, according to Susquehanna Group International, a financial company.

The company has expanded its customer base in recent years by offering seven iPhone models, ranging in price from $429 to more than $1,500. Its premium pricing has helped bring together a wealthier clientele than competing smartphone makers, but about a third of iPhone buyers earn less than $50,000 a year, according to Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, a technology research firm.

The iPhone 14 may be more famous for where it was made than for its new features. This year for the first time Apple will assemble some of its flagship phones in Indiapart of a strategy to reduce its dependence on China, where it produces the vast majority of its products.

Efforts to diversify its supply chain have gained greater urgency for Apple this year amid the turmoil caused by the epidemic in China and rising geopolitical tensions over Taiwan’s status.

“We are in the post-iPhone maturity phase,” said Bob O’Donnell, founder of Technalysis Research. “It’s getting more and more difficult to tell the generations apart from the machine.”

Leave a Comment