Apple looks beyond iPhone in annual product revamp

New line-up next month to include redesigns for iPad and Watch range

Apple is expected to unveil a bumper collection of upgrades to its iPhone, iPad and Watch at its next launch event, which has been scheduled for September 12th.

Invitations were sent out on Thursday morning for the event, which will be the second flagship launch to be held at the Steve Jobs Theater at Apple's new Cupertino headquarters.

The invitation asked attendees to “gather round”, showing a bronze-coloured icon resembling its ring-shaped headquarters.

The company has been investing heavily ahead of next month’s event, with capital expenditure in its most recent quarter jumping 30 per cent from a year ago to $5.3 billion (€4.6 billion). Analysts say that points to new launches right across Apple’s product range, after a largely iPhone-focused event on the product’s 10-year anniversary a year ago.


Three new iPhones are expected to debut, including one with a supersized screen and a more affordable model that uses cheaper materials, such as a lower-resolution LCD display.

All are expected to dispense with the physical, circular home button that has been part of the iPhone’s iconic design for more than a decade. Replacing it across the line-up will be its Face ID sensors and software designed for swiping gestures.

After the iPhone X was priced at upwards of $1,000 last year, some analysts predicted that the newer, larger iPhone might be even more expensive.

Apple's arch-rival Samsung pioneered larger, more expensive phones with its Galaxy Note range. The latest Note 9 was released last week, sporting a bigger battery, faster processor and enhanced "S Pen" stylus. The highest-capacity 512Gb memory version of the Note 9 runs to as much as $1,250.

Yet while Samsung’s smartphone sales have underwhelmed in recent months amid a slower smartphone market, Apple’s gamble on higher iPhone prices has paid off.

Apple’s revenues increased 20 per cent $53.3 billion in the June quarter, beating Wall Street’s expectations when the company reported its results in July. That helped fuel Apple’s rise to become the first company with a market capitalisation exceeding $1 trillion earlier this month.

Yet with a less radical leap forward than last year’s iPhone X expected for its flagship device this year, Apple’s continued growth increasingly depends on a wider array of products and services.

An “edgeless” display and face-recognition technology similar to that found in the iPhone X is likely to make its way to a new high-end iPad next month, in what promises to be the product’s most radical redesign since its introduction in 2010.

Sales of the iPad suffered years of decline after 2014 as customers switched to bigger-screen iPhones. In recent quarters, the device has staged a modest recovery, with revenues up 2 per cent in the nine months to June, thanks to a combination of lower prices for the basic model and a higher-end iPad Pro that has been positioned as a laptop substitute.

Alongside the iPhone and iPad, a new version of the Apple Watch will squeeze a larger screen into the compact smartwatch. Sales of Apple’s “wearables”, including Watches, AirPods and Beats headphones, totalled $10 billion in the past four quarters combined.

Wearables are providing a vital source of new income to supplement the iPhone, which still made up 63 per cent of Apple’s revenues in the first nine months of its current financial year.

As ever, Apple has not commented on its product plans but on July's quarterly earnings call with analysts, chief executive Tim Cook said: "Looking ahead, we couldn't be more excited about the products and services in our pipeline, as well as limitless applications for augmented reality and machine learning technology." - Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2018