Apple’s Fall Product Event: iPhone 13, What’s New, and Why We Are Not Super Excited

A few notable mildly exciting mentions for the iPhone 13 include a smaller notch, a somewhat faster A15 Bionic chip, improvements to the ultrawide lens, dynamic refresh rates, and bigger batteries.

Apple’s Fall Product Event: iPhone 13, What’s New, and Why We Are Not Super Excited
Photo by Quinn Battick / Unsplash
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Apple’s Fall Product Event was a little bit underwhelming. We knew Apple would announce iPhone 13 and we also got hints that the product wouldn’t be much of an upgrade. Unfortunately, it isn’t. It only got spec’d up in its battery life adding what Apple says is 1.5 to 2.5 hours longer battery life depending on the model, and a few spec bumps to the A14 Bionic that was then repackaged as the A15 Bionic. Apple also introduced the iPhone 13 Mini, iPhone 13 Pro, and iPhone 13 Pro Max. It also added to the lineup a new iPad and an all-new iPad Mini. Apple also announced the Apple Watch Series 7 in its virtual event held on the 14th of September. Apple’s Fall Product Event was underwhelming and fell short of its Spring-Loaded Event.

Important Security Update: iOS 14.8

To kick it off, please make sure that you have updated your iPhone to iOS 14.8. This particular update is imperative and includes mitigations for iMessage vulnerabilities that allowed iPhone to be exploited by the Pegasus Spyware. Through iMessage, Pegasus could infect, for a lack of a better word, and infiltrate your phone in a no-click intrusion. As such, please make sure you have updated your iPhone, if possible, to the latest iOS version which, as of the time of writing this article, is iOS 14.8.

We are yet to know whether those using older models such as iPhone SE and 6 will get the new iOS 15 but are guessing that iOS 14.8 will be the last update for those particular models. For iPhone 6S, however, there are indications that the phone will be able to run iOS 15 and will be supported. As such, regardless of what device you are using, if it can be updated to iOS 14.8, it’s better you update early and stay secure.

Anything at All that is Exciting from Apple this Fall?

iPhone 13

A few notable mildly exciting mentions for the iPhone 13 include a smaller notch, a somewhat faster A15 Bionic chip, improvements to the ultrawide lens, dynamic refresh rates, and bigger batteries. The catch though is that most of these improvements are majorly on the Pro models. iPhone 13 Pro comes with a new display called the ‘Super Retina XDR with ProMotion’ with double the refresh rate of previous iPhones. The iPhone 13 Pro will have 1.5 hours longer battery life with a 6.1” screen. It will retail at $999.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max will come with a 6.7” screen and will have a 2.5-hour longer battery life. It will retail for $1099. The two iPhone 13 Pros will come in a new “Sierra Blue” color variation and will have three rear cameras as opposed to only two in the non-Pro versions. The cameras will include an ultra-wide camera, said to focus on objects as close as two centimeters, a wide camera, and a zoom lens. The two phones will also have the option for 1TB of storage.

For the non-Pro models, the mildly exciting news is that they get nearly a 1.5-hour longer battery life, a smaller notch, ‘improved’ 5G connectivity and a ‘faster’ A15 Bionic chip. We are skeptical about the said improvements from an upgrading perspective. The iPhone 13 comes with a small camera redesign with the two cameras now diagonally placed. One of the two is a 12-megapixel wide-angle lens that Apple says comes with a bigger sensor, one that captures 50 percent more light. One of the two cameras will also be able to hold focus on moving objects, a feature christened ‘Cinematic Mode’.

Both the Pro and non-Pro models will share the A15 Bionic chip. Apple will also expand 5G coverage to more countries for all the iPhone 13 models. The same goes for Fitness + which will expand to more countries and include new languages such as Spanish.

In summary, there isn’t much to upgrade to if you are using last year’s iPhone 12. If you are on older models, however, making the jump directly to iPhone 13 could be worth your buck. Apple has been embroiled in a lot of controversies, especially with issues of privacy and hence we are a little un-excited about Apple’s fall product event. A case in point is when Apple said that they would scan images on Apple devices to look for what they called ‘child abuse’. It raised concerns about whether scanning said images would not amount to a breach of privacy against Apple devices’ users. The company has since reneged and opted not to go on with the initiative.

New iPad and the All-New iPad Mini

We love the concept of reducing costs and providing cheaper alternatives. Unfortunately, most times this means fewer features and a kind of dumbing down of the devices’ capabilities. The new iPad is a low-cost version of last year’s iPad. The iPad will have an improved 12-megapixel front camera for better video calls, capability for LTE wireless connection, and a speedier A13 processor. It will start at 64GB of storage and will go for $329.

The all-new iPad Mini is a tough one for us because as with many users, we wondered what’s the point of introducing a smaller iPad when there are Pro and Pro Max iPhones that do what iPads have tried to duplicate all this while. The iPad Mini will feature an 8.3” screen and will have a flatter design similar to that of the iPhone 12. It also features stereo speakers and a 12-megapixel rear camera. It comes in various new colors including lighter hues of pink, brown, black, and even purple. The top button of the iPad Mini includes a Touch ID sensor. Unfortunately, the device only uses a USB-C connector and not last year’s flagship Lightning connector. Further improvements include compatibility with the Apple stylus and 5G connectivity. The iPad Mini will go for $499.

Apple Watch Series 7

Major improvements in the Apple Watch Series 7 over the Series 6 include faster charging, 20% more screen area, and a software redesign that allows the watch to show more information on its screen. The new Apple Watch Series 7 also comes in titanium, steel, and aluminum cases which will vary in pricing. It will also include new watch faces and will be available in new colors such as pink and green. Apple Watch Series 7 will also retain the ability to be used with Apple Watch bands from older models. Apple touts the Apple Watch Series 7 as the most durable ever and says it will use watchOS 8 and have all-day battery life. Disappointingly, the Apple Watch Series 7’s release date was not announced. The company is said to be experiencing production delays.

iOS 15

The new iPhone models will ship with iOS 15 which comes with some notable features. A case in point is ‘Focus’ which will allow users to mute notifications from certain apps and set modes such as ‘Working Out’. The modes tell the phone to either let or not let some apps such as work and email apps make notifications. iOS 15 will also allow users to jointly stream videos from subscription services on FaceTime, a feature named ‘FaceTime Shareplay’. Other updates include support for FaceTime calls with Windows and Android users and iMessage features that help you organize and track links and photos that have been shared with you. There are also improvements to Apple Maps for easier and more interactive navigation.

Key Take-Aways

Overall, Apple’s Fall Product Event was underwhelming. The company was keen to market its Apple TV + service, starting the event with clips from its shows on the service. The company has invested heavily in content for streaming and is keen to spike subscriber numbers. For its release this fall, the iPhone 13 base model isn’t a stone's throw away from last year’s iPhone 12. iPhone 13 Pro Models are to iPhone 12 Pro models aren’t that much farther apart either. The new iPad Mini is a good thought but doesn’t have the oomph to encourage buyers to pick it over last year’s 12.9” iPad. The same can be said for the low-cost iPad. Apple Watch Series 7 seems promising but we are not certain that it is much of an upgrade over the Series 6.

Should You Upgrade?

If you’re on older models, upgrading to the new iPhone 13s is recommended, especially if you are upgrading to the Pro models. If you’re using iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro models, then upgrading may not mean a huge feature bump. The notch is smaller but if you already have an iPhone with a notch, you have probably already gotten used to it and may not notice a huge difference. Some users find it annoying and the smaller notch will still be annoying. The screen sizes for the newer iPhone 13 models are similar to those of the iPhone 12s and, therefore, there is no ‘screen incentive’ to upgrade.

If you bought the 12.9” iPad, stick to that and if you have Apple Watch Series 6, upgrade to Series 7 because you want better battery life, or new colors and finishes. You will have to wait, however, because the release date and pricing of the Apple Watch Series 7 are yet to be announced. All in all, not much is upgrade-worthy in this year’s Apple fall product event and that means savings for you! Tell us what you think about the new devices. Are you excited about the new devices or are you a little underwhelmed like us?

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