CUPERTINO - Apple sent out invitations to various tech media earlier this month with a simple message: "Gather Round" for a special event at Steve Jobs Theatre in its Cupertino campus Apple Park on Wednesday (Sept 12) (1am on Thursday, Sept 13, Singapore time).
There is no doubt that this event will be about iPhones, given what transpired the past few Septembers. But Apple has a penchant for springing surprises. We browsed the grapevines and rumour mills to see what we can expect from this upcoming event.
On the same day that Apple sent out the media invites, a photo of the next-generation iPhones was apparently leaked from Apple's server, based on reports by tech website 9to5Mac. This further confirms what many had expected - the event will be about iPhones.
There will be three iPhones launched during this event, according to well-connected TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a knack for predicting Apple's new products.
The only mystery is the naming convention. Given that the second generation of a re-designed iPhone is usually given the "s" suffix, such as iPhone 6s, the new iPhones are rumoured to be called the iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Plus or Xs Max.
The iPhone Xs will be the immediate successor to the 5.8-inch iPhone X, while the iPhone Xs Plus or Max will be the bigger 6.5-inch version. The latter is probably to cater to users' complaints that the iPhone X is too small. Both new iPhones will sport edge-to-edge Oled displays with Face ID. And gold seems to be a new colour option.
But it looks like there will be no triple cameras, which the Huawei P20 Pro has, or in-display fingerprint sensor - a feature found in the Vivo X21 - for the new iPhones.
There will also be a "budget" iPhone with a cheaper 6.1-inch LCD display. This iPhone, which might be called the iPhone Xc, will have a similar design as the iPhone X but is believed to come in different colours like white, blue, red and orange. Apparently, this will be the iPhone 9. If this is true, it means the end of Touch ID for iPhones.
The Apple Watch has been sporting the same design since its launch three years ago.
But based on an image that had been leaked along with the new iPhones, the upcoming Apple Watch Series 4 (or whatever it will be called) will be thinner and feature a slightly bigger screen than its predecessors.
According to the ever-reliable Mr Kuo, the Series 4 will have 38 per cent more screen area for the 38mm model and 34 per cent more screen for the 42mm model. The bigger screen is said to be achieved by reducing the screen bezel.
Mr Kuo also said that the new Apple Watch will have enhanced health sensors, but he did not elaborate on them.
The leaked image shows a watch face that displays eight complications or functions. Perhaps, these new complications are the results of the "enhanced health sensors".
Nevertheless, a faster and thinner new Apple Watch will always be welcomed by users looking to upgrade their existing Apple Watch.
Unveiled in last September's event, Apple's AirPower wireless charging pad, which can charge an iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods simultaneously, has not seen the light yet.
Hence, there is a high chance that it might finally be launched this time round. This will coincide with an updated AirPods that supports wireless charging. Maybe the new AirPods will have a black colour option?
In addition, we might be seeing a refreshed HomePod smart speaker, or a cheaper, smaller version. One of the downers of the HomePod, despite being an excellent speaker, is its high price tag of US$349 (S$480). By comparison, a Google Home smart speaker costs only S$189. So, a "HomePod Mini" will help to address the price issue.
And hopefully, the old or new HomePod will sell in more countries, such as Singapore, other than the six countries it is currently available in.
The Straits Times will be at the Steve Jobs Theatre to bring you the latest on Apple's offerings. Readers can also watch the live stream of the event at www.apple.com/apple-events/september-2018/