A big-screen iPad “Pro” and a new Apple TV promoted as a game console could overshadow the incremental iPhone improvements expected to be revealed at Apple’s Wednesday launch event in San Francisco.
Here’s what analysts expect:
Apple has been collaborating with IBM to gets its iPads into the enterprise, and a bigger iPad screen at an expected 12.9 inches could help accelerate the effort. It would also compete less with big-screen phablets such as the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus. The current iPad Air 2 tablet features a 9.7-inch screen, and the iPad Mini 3 has a 7.9-inch screen.
Besides a faster processor, the Pro tablet might come with a Bluetooth stylus and a Force Touch display, first introduced on the Apple Watch. Force Touch lets users press the display with different levels of force to do different things. Consumers watching a video, for example, could touch the screen lightly to play the video in slow motion and press harder to speed through the video. Force Touch is also expected to appear on the new iPhones.
iPad Mini 4
The successor to the 7.9-inch iPad Mini 3 will be the Mini 4, which is expected to get thinner from the current 7.5mm, sport better cameras than the current 5- and 1.2-megapixel cameras with 1080p and 720p video capture, come with faster processor than the current 64-bit Apple A7 processor, and feature iOS 9’s split-screen mode, as will the Pro tablet.
The current Wi-Fi version of the Mini 3 is available with 16GB storage at $399, 64GB at $499, and 128GB GB at $599, with the LTE versions costing $130 more.
The Apple TV box has been mostly unchanged for three years, but Apple is expected to put the device back on the front burner. The new Apple TV is expected to add Apple’s new A8 processor, Siri, a new touchpad remote control, and downloadable software and games. Prices are expected to start at $149, with storage options at 8GB and 16GB.
One thing it probably won’t have is a cord-cutting subscription-TV service. That prospect has reportedly been delayed because Apple wants to negotiate with TV networks directly, but the affiliate stations of broadcast networks want to negotiate their own deals as they do with local cable-TV providers. The subscription service would likely include over-the-air broadcast channels as well as networks available through cable and satellite settop boxes.
New band colors could emerge, as might new metal finishes, including a gold version that’s less expensive than the limited-quantity Apple Watch Edition with 18-karat rose gold or yellow gold case starting at more than $10,000.
A faster processor, better back camera, Force Touch user interface, a higher resolution display and faster LTE could be on the way to succeed the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and 5.5-inch 6 Plus. The successors will also come preloaded with iOS 9, the OS upgrade that Apple unveiled earlier in the year for fall availability.
Here’s what the new iPhones might add:
Camera: Current iPhones offer an 8-megapixel main camera with 1080p video capture at 60 fps, but several competitors offer phones with 4K Ultra HD video capture and DSLR-like features, while image capture runs up to 21 megapixels.
Expect Apple to step up to a 12-megapixel sensor and 4K video capture on the main camera and up to 5 megapixels for the front camera.
Display: The 6 Plus features FullHD resolution of 1,920 by 1,080 with 401 PPI, and the 6 features 1,334 by 750 HD resolution with 326 PPI, but competitors sport up to quad-HD 2,560 by 1,440 displays with up to 559 PPI in the Samsung Galaxy S6. Expect Apple to improve screen resolution to keep up with its competitors.
RAM, processor: Apple’s A8 processor chip in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus is a dual-core 1.5GHz chip supported by 1GB of RAM, but the successors could step up to 2GB RAM and feature Apple’s latest processor, likely called the A9. Samsung’s flagship S6, in contrast, runs on an octa-core processor running at quad 2.1GHz plus quad 1.5GHz. That phone also features 3GB RAM, and Asus’s ZenFone2 features 4GB RAM. Samsung’s new 5.7-inch S6 Edge+ and Note 5 phablets sport 4GB RAM.
LTE: The latest iPhones feature VoLTE (Voice over LTE) and 150Mbps LTE, but more advanced LTE versions deliver faster speeds, with the LG G4 supporting 300Mbps peak downloads and Samsung’s Galaxy S6 Edge+ and Note 4 featuring Category 9 LTE, which delivers peak LTE speeds of 450Mbps down and 50Mbps up.
iOS 9: Previously announced enhancements in iOS9 include:
--the expansion of HomeKit home-automation control to windows shades, sensors such as carbon monoxide and motion sensors, and security systems.
--the ability of Car Play to support automakers’ own apps from within the Car Play UI, plus the ability to connect an iPhone to a Car Play head unit via Wi-Fi without plugging the phone into a USB port.