Apple have just held their annual iPhone launch event and the big question is whether you really need one of the new iPhones or the Apple Watch Series 2 they’ve just unveiled? It’s easy to get carried away by all they hype, so I thought it would be good idea to take a close look at what’s on offer.
It all started of with Tim Cook taking part in some Carpool Karaoke, which is the last place you’d expect to see Steve Jobs before one these events. We then had to sit through a lot of talk about Apple’s activities, which seems to be mandatory now Tim Cook is in charge, before we got to the good stuff.
While the new iOS Mario game was exciting, it’s a bit frustrating that we have to wait until Christmas for it.
The most significant thing about an Apple Event for me is what rumours were accurate and what Apple can genuinely surprise us with. Overall, the iPhone 7 and the Apple Watch Series 2 were generally what I expected, but I was completely blown away by the new Air Buds. We’ll also have to wait until October to see the new MacBooks as they surely can’t hold them back much longer.
Apple Watch Series 2
While it was pretty obvious that Apple would replace the original model this year, the big question would be whether the old one would be made virtually obsolete. First generation Apple users often pay a high price for owning these precious gadgets from the beginning and some people had paid a lot of money for their first smartwatch. You just have to look at the original iPhone and iPad to see how the second generation of these devices can leave them standing, and it can often happen within the first year.
Thankfully for Apple Watch owners like me, the old one is still something you’ll want on your wrist and it even looks like the new model.
The big improvements are the processor, built in GPS and improved water resistance, due to a cleaver new speaker design. The biggest surprise for me was that this product now seems to be positioned as a fitness device rather than a smartwatch that integrates with Apple’s ecosystem. I expected the Apple Watch to become a ‘real world pointing device’ for the future smart home, but maybe that will come when they’ve taken care of Microsoft and their Band 2 fitness tracker.
There’s also a Nike + model for those who are serious about running.
Despite all this focus on fitness, the Sport model quietly disappeared so there’s now a gradual evolution in price reflecting the materials used and the straps. I think this makes a lot more sense and calling it a new series also helps to keep the old model relevant and fashionable.
Overall, I think the Apple Watch still has a lot to do though, as I just don’t see people wearing them. I personally still see this as a device for giving you notifications and helping you pay for things, so the original model, now with a dual-core processor, may be a better option for some people.
Apple also have to hope that people didn’t notice that they now expect you to pay around £300 for your watch, rather then the £500+ they were pushing you towards before.
As expected, this was pretty evolutionary compared to the huge steps forward with the iPhone 5 and iPhone 6. That’s not to say it isn't a great phone, it’s just that I can’t help feeling that we’ll see a lot more next year to mark the 10th anniversary of the iPhone.
There was already controversy over the loss of the headphone socket but I think they handled it pretty well, and the free adaptor you get with it should silence most critics. The fact that it helps make the phone water resistant should also ease the pain.
The most significant thing about the iPhone 7 for me is that the iPhone 7 Plus has an extra lens built in. While this had been rumoured, it seemed so unlikely as it would be so hard on ‘regular’ iPhone 7 users. This was almost as bad as releasing an iPhone Pro in my opinion, as it's such a huge feature that essentially devalues the smaller model.
The big question is whether they will be able to fit another lens into the smaller phone in the near future?
If we put aside rumours and predictions of future models though, it’s hard to deny that this is a great product. Even if it was more like an ’S’ upgrade, I still think it’s the best phone money can buy when you take everything into consideration.
As someone who brought the iPhone 6 outright though, it’s not something I’m considering. For me, it just didn’t have any essential, game-changing features that I’d long for every time I picked my old one up.
The fact that it’s pretty much the same shape also suggest that people won’t notice I don’t have one when it’s in a case.
I personally think it’s worth waiting until next year if you can. If you have an older model or really need to upgrade though, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed with the iPhone 7.
The iPhone 7 Plus is a bit different though, as that extra lens is a huge step forward and will definitely reward anyone who can fit it in their pocket, or has a convenient way of carrying it around. The 32GB ‘basic’ model should also suit a lot more people as well.
I really got excited when they announced these new wireless earbuds. These will really make life easier for me, as I’m always using Bose bluetooth headphones. These can get hot in summer though, and they’re a bit too big to wear outside and carry with me.
For people like me who use multiple Apple devices, they will really make a difference.
It just remains to be seen how they fit and if it’s worth restricting yourself to Apple devices. A Bose wireless set is only slightly more expensive, and you have the luxury of using them with non-Apple devices, and you can use a wire, if you need to.
That said, I still like the Air Buds though and I’m confident you won’t know you’re wearing them. I also think they'll come in really handy when I'm using my MacBook.
The October Event
With the Apple Watch and the iPhone out the way, Apple usually use their October Event to unveil new iPads before Christmas. With the new, smaller iPad Pro only released in March though, it seems unlikely as this model is the focus of their marketing.
It would surely make a lot more sense to me to unveil new MacBooks, as most of their range is really looking outdated against the single new model they introduced last year. The MacBook Air range doesn’t even have a Retina screen and a new, redesigned MacBook Pro has been rumoured for some time.
This may also be a better investment than the new iPhone.