Apple is holding its annual iPhone event on Tuesday, the company’s seventh virtual launch in a row due to the ongoing pandemic. The company is expected to introduce new iPhones and updates to its AirPods and Apple Watch, according to analysts.
Apple’s hype-filled fall launches are a signature quirk of the company. They garner worldwide media attention, millions of viewers on YouTube and Apple’s website, and set the stage for a holiday season marketing blitz when Apple’s sales are the highest.
All of Apple’s product segments have been on a tear this year as people continue to work from home. Last quarter, iPhone revenue was up 49.78% year-over-year, Mac revenue was up 16% year-over-year and iPad revenue was up 12% year-over-year. Its “other products,” business which includes devices like watches and AirPods, was up 40% year-over-year. Apple can keep the momentum going with a fresh slate of new products ahead of the holidays.
Last year, due to Covid, Apple revealed its new watches in September and then followed that event with an October iPhone 12 event. The iPhone 12 introduced an all-new design and 5G.
New iPads and MacBooks Pro laptops are due for an update this fall, too. It’s unclear whether Apple will pack all of its fall launches into one release event or if it will spread them out over multiple streaming events as it did last fall.
“Based on conversations with our Morgan Stanley Apple supply chain research colleagues, we expect the fall of 2021 to be another busy period of product launches, with the iPhone 13 family, the Apple Watch 7, AirPods 3, new iPads, and new MacBook Pros with M1 all expected to be released before year end,” Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty wrote in a note last week.
Apple’s most important product is the iPhone, accounting for half of Apple’s 2020 sales. The company has announced new models every September since 2012, until last year when iPhones were revealed in October.
In 2020, Apple released four iPhone models: a smaller $599 iPhone 12 mini, the $829 iPhone 12, the higher-end $999 iPhone 12 Pro and the $1,2099 iPhone 12 Pro Max. All of the iPhone 12s came with 5G connectivity and a new, more squared-off design.
Expect this year’s lineup to be similar to last year’s with the same screen sizes and prices. Research from TF Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, a leading Apple analyst, suggests the big change this year could be a smaller notch cutout at the top of the iPhone’s screen, which holds the device’s facial recognition cameras. The size of the notch has remained the same since it was introduced in 2017.
The new iPhones could also have bigger batteries and a slightly heavier weight thanks to a new internal-space-saving design, according to Kuo. In previous years, new iPhones have come with camera and processor upgrades, and that’s almost certain to happen this year, according to Kuo.
We don’t know yet what Apple will call the new iPhones. Apple has named some previous devices “S” devices, which signify that they mainly have internal changes, which would fit in with this year’s expectations. That means it could be called the iPhone 12s, or it could be named the iPhone 13 if Apple decides the changes are enough to warrant it. We don’t know yet.
“Investors expect iPhone 13 to be a more ‘evolutionary’ product cycle with fewer significant technology upgrades compared to iPhone 12,” Huberty wrote.