LOS ANGELES – If it's September, there's surely a new, larger iPhone in your future. And plenty more fun toys as well.
Apple has sent out the invites for a Sept. 9 press session, where it is widely expected to introduce a new, revamped iPhone that will be in stores later in the month.
In turn, Apple could unveil two other new products, an updated iPad and a new wearable health device that can also tell time. Early speculation suggests it could be more like a Fitbit or Jawbone Up than a traditional smartwatch.
Pent-up demand for the new iPhone is huge. Apple is expected to sell 10 million units of the new phone on its opening weekend, which would be a record, predicts RBC Capital Markets. That would top the opening 9 million unit weekend of the iPhone 5s and 5c by 1 million.
The new iPhone is expected to have:
– A larger, 4.7-inch screen, up from the current 4-inch screen on the iPhone 5s and 5c. The larger screen brings Apple closer to the competition. Several Galaxy phones from Samsung have 5-inch screens, and the new LG G3 has a whopping 5.5-inch screen.
While several reports have said Apple will have two models available, the 4.7-inch and a larger 5.2-inch model, long-time Apple analyst Tim Bajarin of Creative Strategies believes Apple will just have one new size – 4.7 inches. The 5.2 inch-model "is just too big," he says. The co-called "Phablets" – larger smartphones – "have just not taken off," he adds. Out of the 2 billion smartphones sold yearly, just 10% have the larger screen, he notes. Consumer alert: you'll need to purchase a new case for the iPhone – the older ones will be too small to fit the new one.
– Look for a new, more scratch-proof screen, made out of synthetic sapphire crystal. This will help keep your iPhone more shiny and new looking, but it won't totally eliminate the problem so many complain of – shattered iPhone screens.
However, sapphire is expensive to produce. Bajarin says it adds $100 to the price of the iPhone. He believes a sapphire screen will be available as an add-on option. "I just cracked my iPhone screen, and it cost me $150 to replace," he says. "If I could get a screen that wouldn't shatter, for $100, I'd do it, just for the insurance."
Sapphire will give Apple "a competitive advantage over Samsung and LG," says Richard Doherty, an analyst with the Envisioneering Group.
–The new iPhone almost surely will have a stronger processor. The current A7 chip will be replaced with the A8. In terms of performance, the new chip is expected to be more energy efficient and about 30% faster in terms of performance.
– Battery life. It's expected to be slightly improved. Since the new iPhone will have a larger screen and thus more "real estate," Bajarin says the device will be able to fit a bigger battery.
– The iSight camera will be improved. More people take photos on an iPhone now than any camera, and Apple uses new iPhone releases as an opportunity to upgrade its optics. In fact, photos will be a big part of the new iPhone. The iPhoto app is being discontinued in favor of a new app, simply called "Photos," which will make it easier to search through photos, save them to the cloud, and shoot time-lapse videos.
– Make payments with your iPhone. NFC, which stands for Near Field Communications, is a technology that lets consumers make payments just by swiping their phone – instead of a credit card – at retailers. Several Android models have it now, but the new iPhone will also have it, reports Wired magazine.
Apple is expected to focus on the new iPhone on Sept. 9, and invite reporters back by October for the iPad and wearable tech announcement.
The new wearable device will "narrow its focus" from that of a timepiece to be more like the Nike Fuelband "on steroids"– monitoring health and sharing information with health providers, says Bajarin.