September 14, 2022 at 4:03 p.m.
- Apple’s annual iPhone event took place on September 7, 2022.
- The company announced a new lineup of iPhone 14 models, three new Apple Watches, an AirPods Pro update, and an Apple Fitness+ refresh.
- Apple’s new Emergency SOS feature enables the new iPhone to communicate with satellites for emergency response in remote areas.
- New iPhone models are available for pre-order on September 9, 2022.
- Overall, updates to iPhone 14 models are significant and aggressive, making this one of the most noteworthy iPhone launches.
Apple Event Overview
Apple’s event began, unlike most, without a clever video touting the ubiquity and necessity of their products in our lives. Instead, we got drone footage of the Apple Campus, zooming into Tim Cook’s introduction. Long gone are the days of tech “journalists” filling an auditorium, gasping and applauding at every little feature. Instead, each presenter explains each new product release with Apple Park as the backdrop. Each section contains short advertisements for new Apple devices, but the innovative opening video is gone.
The Apple Event is much staler and orchestrated these days. Without a live audience, the events are edited to perfection, making them seem almost too uniform. Even the gestures of each Apple employee are coached, uniform, and scripted.
Such conformity was unique to Apple but has now spread throughout the tech world, with Apple’s competitors and completely unrelated firms following Apple’s lead. The attention to detail helps assert the notion that Apple products are perfect. If only reality were as perfect as an Apple event.
The September 7, 2022 Apple Event begins with the introduction of three new Apple Watch models. Next, the company unveiled a refresh of AirPods Pro. The event closes with the headliner — the iPhone 14 lineup, including a larger Plus size design for the base model and Pro models with superior cameras and the ridiculous Dynamic Island. Let’s take a look at each product category unveiled at the most recent Apple Event.
Three New Apple Watch Models Unveiled at the September 7 Event
Although Apple introduced three new Apple Watch models, the Ultra model stole the show. The new, rugged model intended for outdoors enthusiasts made up most of the presentation. The Series 8 Apple Watch isn’t much different from last year’s model. Beyond the addition of a thermal sensor, it’s virtually identical and starts at the same price. The Apple Watch SE is what it is — an inexpensive Apple Watch without health sensors, which is perfect for younger consumers.
The new Apple Watch Ultra is the most significant change to the Apple Watch since its initial launch. Aimed at outdoor enthusiasts, it’s a perfect fit for backpackers, surfers, and scuba divers.
Housed in a titanium casing, the new Apple Watch Ultra can run for 36 hours on a single charge. All models are cellular-capable, with a new Action button offering an entirely new way to interact with the device.
Some minor refinements include two powerful speakers, with a third dedicated speaker for emitting an 86-decibel siren. Three beam-forming microphones improve call quality, dictation, and Siri interactions with their ability to focus on one’s speaking voice. With EN13319, MIL-STD 810H, and IP6X certifications, this new Apple Watch is water resistant at up to 100 meters depth and remarkably dust-proof.
As mentioned, the other two Apple Watches, the Series 8 and third-generation SE, are nothing to write home about. Both feature even less than the typical, modest improvements one would expect. In fact, I just purchased two Series 7 Apple Watches at a steep discount, and I have zero buyer’s remorse. The Series 8 Apple Watch only adds a thermal sensor. I’m not sure why they even bothered updating it.
The company’s reluctance to talk about specs is the funniest thing about the Apple Watch. You have to do some sleuthing to learn about processors and chips used in the Apple Watch. That’s because they don’t change much. Finally, at the bottom of the Apple Watch comparison web page, if one chooses to expand the collapsed “Chips” section, Apple did upgrade the chips in the complete Apple Watch lineup. Apple probably didn’t mention the chipset, as all models feature the same S8 processor. Such an admission may have consumers preferring the lower-cost SE model, although the Ultra has a lot more going for it.
With the Apple Watch, it’s clear that the Ultra is the favorite child. Apple demoted its base watch and low-cost SE model to stepchildren. The Ultra is likely more profitable. It will get core Apple Watch fans to upgrade. Outdoor enthusiasts will love it, along with the poseurs succumbing to nature-loving trends.
Modest AirPods Pro Improvements
AirPods Pro are new and improved, with the second generation model boasting twice as much noise cancellation. Although the new models feature an improved H2 processor, Apple poorly explained what it does. They seem to have designed it to work with a new amplifier and driver, delivering better sound. It’s also more efficient, delivering up to six hours of listening time on a single charge. This is part of a trend in which Apple obfuscates product specifications, especially for minor changes.
Second generation AirPods Pro also feature innovative new touch controls for adjusting volume, controlling audio playback, and issuing Siri requests. The iconic earphones now feature additional extra-small silicon tips to fit more ears.
These are expensive, but if you’re a professional who needs these for work, the better sound quality and longer battery life are helpful. At $249, they’re within the range of most consumers, but one can often find Apple’s standard, second-generation AirPods for only $99 on Amazon.
2022 iPhone 14 Lineup
This year sees the addition of four new iPhone models in Apple’s lineup. Apple didn’t refresh the low-cost SE model, indicating a need for greater profitability. Typically, the SE models are updated less frequently than their higher-priced counterparts. The following iPhone models are part of the 2022 lineup:
- iPhone 14
- iPhone 14 Plus
- iPhone 14 Pro
- iPhone 14 Pro Max
The new iPhone 14 lineup is surprisingly innovative. One of the most striking features is Emergency SOS. On the latest iPhone models, it enables those stranded in locations without cellular coverage to issue distress communications using satellites. The technology requires iPhone users to hold the phone pointing at a satellite, as indicated by on-screen instructions. By doing so, the iPhone doesn’t need a massive satellite antenna.
Don’t assume that you can use this feature to send text messages to your friends. One can only send a minuscule amount of data. For this reason, users issuing an Emergency SOS call must go through a series of screens, answering common questions that search and rescue teams may need. They even developed a compression algorithm to facilitate limited text message communication over satellites.
Apple designed the iPhone 14 and the Apple Watch Ultra to appeal to Millennial and Gen-Z users (along with a few Gen-X’ers undergoing midlife crises) obsessed with outdoor activities. Market research revealed what the average American witnesses every day — social media, outdoor product retailers, and the hospitality industry created the most massive outdoor trend since the 1970s. Grizzly Adams beards and re-branded granola bars are back in style. Who knows? Even the old-school Mountain Dew commercials may come back.
The iPhone 14 Pro models finally feature a 48 MP camera; however, the pixels are grouped into units of 4. So it’s a 48 MP camera that dithers to 12 MP. Many Android phones offer proper 48 MP cameras which create high-resolution photographs. Apple doesn’t cater to that crowd. Android phones from Google and OnePlus take better photos than my iPhone 13 Pro Max. We’ll have to see if the newest professional-grade iPhone is any better.
Regarding the Pro models, Apple’s ridiculous hubris surfaces once again with the Dynamic Island. The notch is gone, replaced with a black oval that houses the front-facing camera and sensors. Apple was able to put the dot projector under the screen, which is a valuable innovation. Unfortunately, the hype meisters at Apple went a bit too far, labeling some on-screen graphics and animations as a Dynamic Island. It’s more of a Fantasy Island.
To be fair, Dynamic Island technology is rooted in the A16 processor. Apple’s newest chip features a graphics processor which renders Dynamic Island smoothly and efficiently. But let’s be honest. This is just a graphical band-aid covering an oval. I preferred the notch. Now, you have an oval part-way through the screen when watching a movie. It looks worse. Luckily, I don’t watch a lot of videos on my iPhone.
Apple built a bridge too far to this Dynamic Island. It’s a perfect example of the Cupertino reality distortion machine. It’s just on-screen graphics that work around a design flaw. It’s not as bad as calling dog feces chocolate, but close. They could have kept the notch and still added the Dynamic Island. To name such an insignificant and superfluous feature is ludicrous. It’s Apple’s Fantasy Island — one full of delusional marketing managers.
Apple is exceptionally proud of Dynamic Island. It’s the leading feature on their website. They talked about it extensively at the event. Perhaps it seems like a miracle to marketing folks. To techies, it is what it is — on-screen graphics to cover up a design flaw. Yes, they blended on-screen graphics with the “oval”. That’s not a crowning achievement. My hunch is that someone very high up at Apple conceived of this feature, creating this “Emperor’s New Clothes” situation. It’s truly underwhelming.
Users who want a base model iPhone with a larger screen will be pleased with the iPhone 14 Plus. Starting at $899, it’s a great way to enjoy a larger screen without forking extra cash for the Pro Max model.
All new iPhone 14 models feature an Always On display. This is an innovation Android phones enjoyed a few years ago. Apple implemented it the same way as competitors like Samsung and OnePlus — slow the screen refresh rate down. Your Always On display doesn’t need to refresh often. It shows the time and other information, which doesn’t change frequently. I enjoy this technology on my Android phone. I’m glad to see it finally arrive on the iPhone.
Base iPhone 14 models do not offer the 120 Hz Promotion Display found in the Pro models. Android phones costing less than $1000 have offered 120 Hz refresh rates for years. By refreshing the screen twice as fast as a standard 60 Hz display, scrolling is much smoother, while video games and movies offer stunning, lifelike motion. Once you’ve used a 120 Hz display, it’s difficult to return to 60 Hz. Unfortunately, Apple is unwilling to deliver this superior user experience to its less fortunate customers.
eSim is another technology adopted long ago in the Android kingdom which has finally found its way to the iPhone. New iPhone 14 models will now be able to switch between carriers seamlessly. You’ll never need to search your home for that SIM ejector tool, and you can host multiple eSIMs on one iPhone, which is handy for global travel.
iPhone 14 and Apple Watch Ultra are Impressive
Of all new products introduced at Apple’s September 7 event, the iPhone 14 lineup and Apple Watch Ultra are truly impressive. With the re-introduction of the Plus size base model, consumers will once again benefit from an affordable large-screen phone.
Emergency SOS is a killer app. It’s one of those features that influence purchasing decisions. Adventurous souls can be more adventurous, and it doesn’t cost a fortune. Thanks to the Apple Watch Ultra, those who’d like to explore expensive hobbies like SCUBA can now do this for much less.
Apple seems to have read the writing on the wall. People have been cooped up for a few years, and the outdoor adventure trend continues to grow. In reality, most people will go for a hike in a safe, well-connected public park to take selfies. But the sky’s the limit with the iPhone 14 and Apple Watch Ultra. Whether you seek adventure or merely fantasize about it, Apple has you covered.