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Sep 08, 2016

Apple to show off new iPhones

Apple is expected to show off new iPhones, an updated smartwatch - and maybe some new gear for listening to both - during its annual fall product launch event on Wednesday.

Hard-core Apple fans will be watching closely for details about the newest features coming to Apple’s gadgets, from a widely anticipated dual-lens camera for the iPhone to a rumored GPS sensor in the Apple Watch.

But even casual users of consumer technology may be interested to see if Apple follows through on reports that it’s eliminating the iPhone’s analog headphone jack, since that could pave the way for a big shift in the way people listen to digital music.

Getting rid of the traditional analog jack means future iPhone owners will need earbuds or headphones that use a digital connection, either through a wireless signal like Bluetooth or a cord that fits in the same port used for recharging the device.

Apple may ship the next iPhones with an adapter that lets older headsets plug into the charging port. 

Tech blogs and industry analysts say Apple is also working on new headsets that fit the iPhone’s “Lightning” power port, and possibly new “Air Buds” that use a Bluetooth-like wireless signal.


iPhone 7


Incremental changes

Aside from some new colors, the new iPhones aren’t expected to look much different from the models Apple has been selling since 2014, which include a standard model with a 4.7-inch screen and a “Plus” version with a 5.5-inch screen.

Analysts say Apple is departing from its usual two-year development cycle and won’t announce a major revamp of its signature smartphone this year. Despite a recent dip in iPhone sales, most Apple watchers don’t expect a big overhaul until 2017, the 10th anniversary of the first iPhone’s release.

Even so, the new phones are expected to come with faster processors, more memory and better cameras - an upgraded lens for the standard iPhone and a new dual-lens system for the Plus model that promises better “zoom” capabilities and improved performance in low lighting.

Analysts say the new Apple Watch will also have some new features, including a GPS sensor that can be used with exercise apps and other services. But despite reports that Apple has been working on giving the watch its own cellular capability - meaning it wouldn’t need to be paired with an iPhone - analysts say that’s unlikely to come this year.

Apple is also expected to announce the dates when the new models will go on sale, along with its timetable for releasing the next major upgrades to the software for iPhones, iPads, the Apple Watch, Apple TV and Mac computers.


iPhone 7 with high-resolution cameras


New glossy black finish

He said Apple’s new glossy black finish could be more popular than any tech feature, reflecting the slowdown in major tech innovations for smartphones.

Mike Binger, senior portfolio manager at Gradient Investments LLC in Minneapolis, said the disappearance of the headphone jack “will probably annoy a certain amount of people” 
but they would likely get over it.

“Every other release tends to be a better release. Most people’s two-year contracts are nearing the end, so I think the iPhone 7, just from a replacement basis, will be a successful launch,” he said. “We’re in good shape for a nice sales cycle here, so I’m encouraged.”

Apple typically gives its main product, which accounts for more than half of its revenue, a big makeover every other year and the last major redesign was the iPhone 6 in 2014.

Apple said its Apple Watch Series 2, with a swim-proof casing, will be available in more than 25 countries starting on Sept. 16.

“I predict Watch sales will improve dramatically,” said Tech analyst Patrick Moorhead. “Most of the current Watch owners are early adopters and the next wave could be 10 times the size of that market.”

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