Apple has just wrapped up its fall 2021 announcements, and there were no major surprises. There are new iPhones, an updated Apple Watch, and redesigned iPad Mini. That new pocket-sized iPad is the biggest departure from the last-gen device, and the others have just a few small tweaks and improvements. Apple will no doubt sell a boatload of them, though. Let’s recap.
iPhone 13 lineup
Just like last year, there are four iPhone models in Apple’s lineup. That’s actually one of the more surprising parts of the announcement — Apple didn’t kill the Mini variant of the iPhone 13. The phones have slimmed-down display notches, and the battery life is just a bit better, amounting to 1.5-2.5 hours of additional usage per charge in Apple’s testing. That’s true even with the more powerful A15 processor, which powers improved photography features in tandem with the dual cameras. You get some of the same camera hardware from last year’s Pro Max iPhone, too.
After numerous reports of poor iPhone 12 Mini sales, many expected Apple would stick with the more successful sizes. The 6.1-inch iPhone 13 will probably have the most mainstream appeal. The 5.4-inch iPhone 13 Mini actually knocks $100 off the price of the 12, starting at $699, including a $30 discount for getting the carrier versions. The iPhone 13 is $799 with the same discount.
And then there are the Pro models. Again, they don’t look much different, but Apple has finally gotten with the times to support a higher display refresh rate. The 6.1 and 6.7-inch iPhone Pro models support a 120Hz refresh rate, which Apple calls ProMotion. The stainless steel frames give these phones more heft and rigidity, and they come in four new colors: graphite, gold, silver, and light blue (see top image).
Around back, the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max have a new triple camera system. Unlike most other smartphone makers, Apple is content sticking with high-quality 12MP sensors instead of adding megapixels. The telephoto lens now has 3x optical zoom, and the ultrawide has a wider aperture. You also get Night Mode on all three cameras, and optical image stabilization to reduce blurriness. Apple also touted Cinematic Mode, which lets you create high-quality focus shifts in your videos. The Pro and Pro Max will retail starting at $999 and $1,099, respectively.
Apple’s oft-forgotten little tablet got some attention this year. The Mini is now essentially a smaller version of the iPad Air. It has a larger 8.3-inch edge-to-edge screen and Touch ID in the top-mounted power button. You can also use the second-gen Apple Pencil with the Mini, which has the requisite magnetic charger on the side to hold the stylus.
Unlike the new iPhones, the Mini adopts USB-C for faster charging and better accessory support. It’ll cost $499 when it goes on sale next week, but there’s a less expensive option as well. The base model 10.2-inch iPad is getting a refresh with a faster A13 chip, but it’s still got a Lightning port and the old-fashioned home button with Touch ID.
Apple Watch Series 7
Apple’s updated wearable might look unchanged at first glance, but it’s every so slightly larger. It now comes in 41 and 45mm sizes. The screen is bigger, too, and the bezels around the screen have shrunken to 1.7mm. Apple says Watch OS 8 has been revamped to make better use of the space, including larger buttons, new watch faces, a full keyboard, and the ability to show up to 50 percent more text on the screen.
The raft of health sensors has not changed, nor has the battery life. The Apple Watch Series 7 will run about 18 hours on a charge, so you’ll be dropping it on the dock every night. On the plus size, it now charges via a USB-C cable, which is 33 percent faster than the old USB-A cable.
Apple is keeping the Series 3 around as an entry-level option at $199, and the Watch SE is still available for $279. The Series 7 starts at $399, but the sky’s the limit if you want cellular data, a titanium case, and fancy bands. The Watch isn’t available for pre-order right now, perhaps due to the rumored manufacturing issues. It should go on sale this fall.
Third-Party Repair Shops May Be Blocked From Servicing iPhone 12 Camera
According to a recent iFixit report, Apple's hostility to the right of repair has hit new heights with the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro.
Nvidia, Google to Support Cloud Gaming on iPhone Via Web Apps
Both Nvidia and Google have announced iOS support for their respective cloud gaming platforms via progressive web applications. Apple can't block that.
Google Uncovers iPhone Exploit That Can Steal Data Over Wi-Fi
According to Ian Beer of Google's Project Zero security team, the flaw allowed him to steal photos from any iPhone just by pointing a Wi-Fi antenna at it.
Recent iPhone Security Hole Becomes Universal Jailbreak
Apple urged iPhone owners to install the latest update to iOS last month, but that in and of itself wasn't unusual. What was unusual was the reason for the update. Apple rolled out iOS 14.4 to plug a security hole that online criminals were actively exploiting. Now, that vulnerability has popped up again as a universal jailbreak for iDevices.