Apple just held its Far Out event, where it revealed its latest iPhone 14 lineup, three new Apple Watches, including the long-rumoured Apple Watch Ultra, and the next generation of AirPods Pro earbuds. The iPhone 14 doesn’t come with too many notable upgrades over the iPhone 13. However Apple has introduced a new Plus model that comes with a bigger 6.7-inch display and improved battery life. Here is what the experts made of the Far Out event launch…
Ben Wood, chief analyst at CCS Insight
“The announcement of an “Emergency SOS via satellite” service should dominate the headlines, but the impact was diluted by a series of leaks ahead of launch, which prompted companies including Google, Huawei, SpaceX and T-Mobile to announce future support for satellite services before Apple’s event.
“The investment to add satellite capability should not be underestimated. It will likely have taken Apple years to put all the pieces of the puzzle in place including a commercial agreement with satellite provider Globalstar and the creation of the infrastructure needed to pass messages to the emergency services.
“Apple’s transition to an eSIM-only variant of iPhone 14 in the US will provoke intense debate. Network operators globally will be watching closely to see whether the move sees a shift in Apple’s balance of power over US carriers.
“CCS Insight predicts that if the eSIM-only iPhone is successful in the US, Apple will take this approach to advanced markets in Europe and beyond with iPhone 15 in 2023.
“It is impressive that Apple has maintained year-on-year pricing parity on the new iPhone 14 devices in the US. We had anticipated that inflation, increased production and component costs, and other expenses such as more expensive shipping would have led Apple to increase its retail pricing.
“Although iPhone pricing in the US has remained flat, we caution that in markets such as the UK, Apple will be obliged to increase pricing in local currency given the strength of the US dollar. If it matched pricing from last year it would quickly find huge volumes being transhipped for profit.
“Rather than the strapline of “Far Out” for this event, Apple could have said “We’ve Got Your Back.” Introducing features such as crash detection, emergency satellite messaging, enhanced health capabilities and more, it builds on its already established reputation for security and privacy.”
Ru Bhikha, mobiles expert at Uswitch.com, comments:
“It’s been 15 years since the first iPhone and with the iconic device now in its mid-teens, Apple has set its sights on keeping fans excited about the next generation. With four in ten Apple users planning to buy one of the latest models, the pressure is on.
“Apple has stuck to its guns and reserved its biggest leaps in innovation for its most premium handsets, despite the economic challenges facing many consumers.
“While the entry-level iPhone 14 is more durable than its predecessor and inherits the A15 Bionic chipset from the iPhone 13 Pro, its higher-spec sibling has a more powerful and speedier new A16 chip.
“The iPhone 14 Pro has finally ditched the notch display which became infamous due to the number of devices on the market integrating the front camera into the screen.
“The single pill-shaped Dynamic Island now gives Apple fans a smooth replacement to the notch and is a clever way to utilise screen real estate that was previously wasted. We should eventually see this design trickle down to more basic Apple phones in the coming years.
“With its new always-on display, the iPhone 14 Pro not only brings the handset in line with many rivals, but goes further by offering weather, calendars, stocks, activities and other data on the lock screen – all while using minimal power.
“The return of the Plus model will be welcomed by those looking for a larger screen, but who don’t want to pay for the top-of-the-range Pro Max. Yet while the tech giant has given with one hand, it has also taken away the iPhone Mini, the cheapest and most pocket-friendly phone from the main series.
“Apple is also showcasing innovation in its camera, with a 48-megapixel main lens in the iPhone 14 Pro that will be popular with smartphone photographers and is one of the biggest camera updates we’ve seen on the iPhone line in years. There are advanced low-light capabilities, courtesy of its photonic engine, along with enhanced stabilisation.
“The new flagship also has an out-of-this-world SOS feature, allowing users to link to a satellite when all other connectivity is down – you never know when you might need it, but you’ll be happy when you do.”
Ru Bhikha, mobiles expert at Uswitch.com, comments:
“The new Apple Watch Series 8 made its debut today, and while we might not be seeing any differences in design, the hardware is where your money is going. A temperature monitor which helps to alert the wearer of a possible fever and a new ovulation tracker to help fertility planning puts Apple at the forefront of home health wearables.
Another landmark feature of the Apple Watch and iPhone 14 is a motion sensor that can detect if the user is involved in a car crash and, using GPS, contact the emergency services – which could mean the difference between life and death.
“The Series 8 also solves a bugbear of many Apple Watch users – managing the battery life. The new low-power mode gives you 36 hours of charge, while sacrificing some of the more battery-draining features such as automatic fitness tracking.
“The lineup has been expanded this year, with a cheaper SE model and the new Apple Watch Ultra, featuring a bigger 49mm case and a larger battery that can be optimised for up to 60 hours of use.
“Clearly aimed at seasoned adventurers, the new addition is more rugged and less curved, with an entirely flat display, made of stronger materials. With bright orange accents comparable to the Ploprof Omega, the Ultra aims to be taken seriously among luxury divers. One for those wanting to keep up with the Indiana Joneses.”
Leo Gebbie, Principal Analyst, Connected Devices at CCS Insight
“The Apple Watch family saw its most significant shake-up since the product launched in 2015. Usually, the main Watch sees an incremental update, but Apple tore up the recipe this year and overhauled its entire wearables line, headed by the striking new Watch Ultra.
“The new flagship may take all the headlines, but the Series 8 and Watch SE have a critical role to play if Apple is to continue its role as the dominant player in the smartwatch market.
“The aggressively priced $250 Apple Watch SE offers plenty of bang for the buck and will trouble rival wearable makers with devices at this price point. Its rich feature set and improved performance will appeal to first-time buyers and may tempt some existing smartwatch owners over to the Apple family.
“The Apple Watch Ultra is a radical new offering from Apple, which until now had never deviated from the original design of the Watch. It provides a new aspirational flagship tier for Apple Watch that will compete with sports watch brands like Garmin, as well as some luxury Swiss watchmakers which have marketed their watches around extreme sports.
“Apple claims that the Watch Ultra’s dual-frequency GPS integrated with Apple Maps will deliver the most accurate GPS in dense urban environments. This will be hotly contested by rivals like Garmin for whom a key differentiator is highly accurate sports tracking capabilities.”