Although the year has been a disaster for pretty much everything, there is some light at the end of the tunnel for many people and that beacon of photons comes in the form of shiny new gadgets to spend our non-existent money on. For many gamers, that means selling kidneys to try and get the next generation of consoles from Microsoft and Sony, but for Apple fans, that means new Apple tech to get excited about and spend even more exorbitant amounts of cash on.
Apple unveiled their new products for the year ahead, which included some impressive updates to the iPad, innovative changes to the Apple Watch, plus an entirely new model and subscription changes to make its ecosystem more appealing than ever before. But do you know what was missing? Any news about the next iPhone. Despite the iPhone being the device that has practically made Apple the biggest company in the world in terms of market value, there was suspiciously nothing mentioned about the new range of phones, which leads me to believe that Apple is either holding back that reveal for another event and allowing their other products to get the limelight for a change, or we could see a big delay in their release.
Whatever the reason, it’s all rather surprising that Apple didn’t show off anything iPhone related. But what that does at least mean is that all that money that you would’ve spent on those overpriced phones, can now be spent on one of Apple’s other overpriced products. Details of which can be read below:
New iPad Air
What stands out immediately about the updated iPad Air is just how much closer to the bigger iPad Pro it looks. Apple is using a larger 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display (2360x 1640) for their new iPad Air that comes fully laminated with True Tone support and anti-reflective coating, To help reduce the bezel size, Apple has moved the fingerprint sensor from the bottom of the device to the power button on the side, making it easier to scan your fingerprint and accidentally trigger your power button all at the same time.
Inside, the new Air comes with Apple’s A14 Bionic, a 5nm chip with a six-core CPU (two high, four low), a new four-core GPU and 11.8 billion transistors. That is a lot of big numbers but what it essentially means is a 40 percent performance improvement over the previous model according to Apple. Considering that the previous Air was fast enough already, this is quite an impressive performance boost.
On the camera side – which is very important even if iPads are not as popular for taking pictures as iPhones – Apple is using the same 12-megapixel rear camera from the iPad Pro and introducing image stabilisation. The front-facing camera, which is perfect for those FaceTime calls, is a 7-megapixel camera with smart HDR that can support 1080p 60fps video capture.
Thankfully, Apple is also finally switching over to USB-C with the new Air, making it compatible with the rest of the world for a change (Apple users will need to change but they should be used to buying new adapters with each new incompatible model). Apple’s new keyboard accessory (which will set you back R5500) and Apple pencil (R2400) are also compatible with the new Air. As for how much the Air costs itself, Apple has announced that it will be released in five different colours: silver, space grey, rose gold, green, and sky blue and will set you back $599 (which is around R11000 minus import charges). It’s an impressive update on the previous iPad and while the cot doesn’t justify the upgrade, if you are in the market for a new tablet, this is definitely one to look out for.
The Air easily took the limelight as the most exciting iPad update, the traditional, cheaper 10.2-inch iPad will also be getting an update. It features a faster A12 chipset (the chip used on last year’s iPad Air models) and sees the previous 9.7-inch screen size, bumped up to 10.2 inches. Despite the size, it is designed to still fit previous cases, which should make it ideal for people who have previous iPads and are in need of an update without needing to replace everything Even form a charging perspective, it will use the traditional Lightning Port rather than moving over to the newer USB-C.
Really, not much else is changing outside of its speed boost, but that’s because Apple wants to keep it at the same cost of what it released last year’s model for, $329 (R6000).
What is perhaps more exciting is that Apple has focused on the Watch more than ever. The 6th edition of the popular smartwatch increases the sensors to be able to measure just about everything you want it to measure and more, including blood oxygen levels which it can do via a special infrared sensor at the back. The company intends to use this information to partner with big health companies to better understand patterns in wearers and possibly see if it can proactively identify a person infected with Covid-19.
On the performance side, the new watch will be 20% faster thanks to a new S6 processor and will also come with an always-on display that is 2.5 times brighter than the previous models. Great for when you are outdoors in the hot Karoo sun and in need of checking those blood-oxygen levels. It’s also now possible to access notifications, Control Centre, change watch faces, or tap on complications without fully waking the screen. The watch also includes a new altimeter for real-time elevation information.
The latter is something which many of the bigger Fitness brands like Garmin, TomTom and FitBit have been doing for a while, but is a welcome improvement. One problem Apple hasn’t tried to solve is the battery life, though at least the improved features and performance won’t set you back anything more with the deice lasting 18 hours, with a 1.5 hour recharge time. Which is considerably faster than before and makes up for its unimproved battery life.
For the fashion-conscious, the new watch will also come with a myriad of new Watch Faces, colours and straps to further personalise your device. The new watches will set you back $399 (R7000) with a cellular model available for $499 (R8500).
Apple Watch SE
Perhaps more exciting for many is Apple will for the first time offer two different Watch models with a new cheaper Watch SE model. Similar to the SE model on the phones, this watch includes a combination of newer features available on the current watch, but built around some of the older hardware, in this case being closer to the Series 4 in feature set and looks, though powered by the same chip from last year’s S5, making it at least faster than that model. It’s not really going to offer anything new, but for people who want to try out a new Apple Watch and can’t afford the top of the range model, its $279 pricing makes it far more appealing.
Who needs to measure their blood-oxygen levels anyway?
Apple One Subscription
Perhaps the best things to lure people into the Apple ecosystem is a new subscription plan which allows individuals or families to sign up for Apple’s different services that they can access from all their different Apple products.
The Individual plan gives subscribers Apple Music, Apple TV Plus, Apple Arcade, and iCloud storage (50GB) for $14.95 a month (R260). The Family plan includes the same apps but with 200GB of iCloud storage for $19.95 (R350) a month while The Premier plan gives subscribers Apple Music, Apple TV Plus, Apple Arcade, 2TB of iCloud storage, Apple News Plus, and the newly announced Apple Fitness Plus for $29.95 (R520) a month.
Fitness Plus is a new subscription service launching before the end of the year that includes training for yoga, cycling, running, core, and strength exercises, among other types of workouts. A person can subscribe to it for $9.99 (R175) a month by itself if they want that alone without any of the other features.
There wouldn’t be much to the new devices if there weren’t some form of big OS update coming along as well. We’ve previously reported on the features of the upcoming iOS 14, so won’t go into detail here, but the update will be available for download from today which means those that want to download it, will need to get all their Apple devices in sync to ensure they keep working together. Hopefully, the new features prove worth the effort.
Overall, it was great to see exciting new updates from Apple, but a little disappointing that we still don’t have any details around the new iPhones. Are you excited about the new Apple products or would you still rather trade in your relatives for a new gaming console instead?
Last Updated: September 16, 2020