What to expect from Apple’s innovation-focused iPhone event

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Apple 2019 Fall press event invitation
Apple is promising tons of innovation.
Photo: Apple

A whole lot of innovation is in the offing for Apple’s biggest hardware event of the year. CEO Tim Cook recently promised that Apple will unleash its strongest product lineup ever, and next week’s “By Innovation Only” event could be just the tip of the iceberg.

Thanks to a glut of leaked info, we have a pretty solid idea about what new hardware to expect during the event. iPhones obviously will steal the spotlight, but Apple might unleash a few surprises as well.

This is what we think we’ll see during the 2019 iPhone keynote, which starts at 10 a.m. Pacific on September 10. Apple will live-stream it from the Steve Jobs Theater at Apple Park in Cupertino, California.

Apple 2019 iPhone event predictions

Three new iPhones

iPhone 11 Max on colorful background. Notice anything different
Notice anything different?
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

Just like last year, Apple is expected to unveil three new iPhone models. There will be a cheaper option similar to the iPhone XR and two higher-end models with pretty much the exact same internal specs but different screen sizes, just like the iPhone XS and XS Max.

Rumors for the names of the new handsets have been all over the place, but it sounds like the iPhone XR successor will be called the iPhone 11. The other two models reportedly will be called the iPhone 11 Pro and the iPhone 11 Pro Max, which is somehow even worse than iPhone XS Max.

The design of the new iPhones likely will look pretty similar to the iPhone XS. However, Apple will undoubtedly pack a bunch of new features inside. Apple is predicted to add two-way wireless charging, a speedy A13 processor, better water resistance, bigger batteries, and new color options. The iPhone 11 Max Pro might also add Apple Pencil support.

On the two high-end models, Apple will supposedly add some big improvements to the cameras. The front-facing selfie cam should get a bigger sensor. On the back, Apple is expected to add a third camera lens, paving the way for better low-light photos.

Even though all the other major smartphone-makers will add 5G to their top-of-the-line handsets this year, we expect Apple to hold off on 5G modems until 2020. The new iPhones also will be missing 3D Touch. (Apple plans to replace it with long-presses in iOS 13. You probably won’t even notice it disappeared.)

Apple Watch Series 5

Apple Watch likely will gain new health-related features.
Apple Watch likely will gain new health-related features.
Photo: Lewis Wallace/Cult of Mac

Other than new iPhones, the only other new hardware we suspect we’re getting is the Apple Watch Series 5. Even that is a bit of a mystery, though. The rumor mill simply did not churn out many Apple Watch Series 5 scoops this summer.

Clues indicate new Apple Watches with ceramic and titanium casings will arrive, but they could just be additional Series 4 entries. A photo of an alleged Apple Watch Series 5 popped up on Instagram last week. But it looks very similar to the Series 4, with an edge-to-edge display, a familiar band design and the same Digital Crown. That photo could be totally fake, but all indications point to Series 5 being a pretty ho-hum update.

If a Series 5 arrives, new features likely will include a faster processor and better battery life. Apple also could add improved water-resistance, heart-rate sensor and ECG functionality.

The biggest improvements, though, likely will come on the software end. Just this week, a rumor about new sleep-tracking functionality bubbled up. That could come to current Apple Watch models without the need for a Series 5.

Tons of Apple software updates

Some of the best iOS 13 features are ones Apple never mentioned
Apple never even mentioned some of the best iOS 13 features.
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

Even though Apple unveiled its big software updates for 2019 at its Worldwide Developers Conference this spring, we’ll still hear a lot about them during next week’s event. iOS 13, macOS Catalina, watchOS 6 and tvOS 13 should all land shortly after the event. Because the WWDC 2019 keynote is mostly geared toward developers, Apple will go over all the new features again. But this time, the pitch will focus on everyday users.

For the first time ever, Apple is branching the iPad update into its own platform, so we’re getting an iPadOS 13 alongside iOS 13 this fall. Both add some seriously huge updates to their respective devices. Dark mode looks like one of the most promising new features. Apple also plans to bring big improvements to Safari, Maps, Photos and Reminders, along with new Memoji and Animoji, better privacy features, new audio tools and more.

One more thing…?

Apple has some of the best storytellers in the world working on Apple TV+.
Apple has some of the best storytellers in the world working on Apple TV+.
Photo: Apple

Apple undoubtedly has a ton of new hardware in the pipeline this year. However, we probably won’t see all of it at the “By Innovation Only” iPhone event. We know new iPads are coming along with a 16-inch MacBook Pro. Those likely won’t get unveiled until October or later. Potentially water-resistant AirPods 3 are also in the works, but considering Apple updated the wireless earphones earlier this year, we don’t think the redesign will land until 2020. Apple’s Tile-style tracker could make an appearance this month though.

The most likely surprise at the iPhone event could be an updated Apple TV set-top box. Diggers found references to a new Apple TV in iOS 13. It looks like Apple will boost the processor to an A12 chip, making the Apple TV hardware even better for gaming.

With the launch of Apple Arcade and Apple TV+ on the horizon, Apple could turn the last portion of the event into a celebration of its new video games, TV shows and movies. We could finally learn the launch date and pricing for new streaming service Apple TV+. Cupertino could even treat us to some new trailers for Apple TV+ shows the company spent an ungodly sum of money buying and producing.

What do you want to see?

What Apple products do you expect (or just want) to see showcased at next week’s big Apple event? Leave your predictions and wildest dreams in the comments below.