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iPhone 13: Apple's 'California Streaming' event could be its biggest of the year

The Tuesday Apple event will be all-virtual again, but that doesn't mean it won't be filled with exciting announcements.

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Apple

Update, Sept. 21: The iPhone 13 lineup has arrived. Read CNET's reviews of the iPhone 13 and 13 Mini, and the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max. Original story follows.


Apple's next event, during which it will likely unveil its next slate of devices, including the Apple Watch Series 7 and the iPhone 13, is happening tomorrow, Sept. 14, at 10 a.m. PT (1 p.m. ET, 6 p.m. BST), the company confirmed last week. The event, like all previous ones over the last year and a half, will be held entirely online amid continued concerns about the pandemic. (Here's what we now know about the iPhone 13 release date and what else to expect from Apple's September event.)

Apple's invite includes the phrase "California streaming." It features a neon outline of the Apple logo set against a silhouette of a mountain range. 

The company's flashy September event is its most important of the year, setting its product lineup for the holiday shopping season. Last year, Apple held three major product releases in the second half, separating out announcements for its latest Apple Watches, iPads, iPhones and Mac computers. The releases helped propel Apple's sales and profit to their highest levels, setting revenue records for the company's iPhones, iPads and Mac computers.

It's unclear just what products Apple will announce and whether the company will repeat last year's tactic of holding multiple events throughout the second half. The iPhone 13 is almost assuredly going to make an appearance. The rumored Apple Watch 7 could as well. 

But the product launches all got their own time to shine last year. The iPhone 12, in particular, touched off a wave of upgrade purchases, driven in part by its new 5G wireless connection and its revamped physical appearance. In his review before its release last year, CNET's Patrick Holland called the iPhone 12 one of our highest-rated phones of all time. The "5G support, a new striking design, improved cameras and four different models all add up to make the iPhone 12 an absolute unit," he wrote.

The other standout for Apple last year was its computers. Apple kicked off a major technology transition last fall, switching out the microprocessing brains for its MacBook Air and MacBook Pro laptops, as well as its Mac Mini desktops. Apple had decided to ditch chips made by industry giant Intel, and instead rely on technology designed by the teams that make the microprocessors for the iPhone. Apple's new M1 chips, as they're called, were praised by reviewers like CNET's Dan Ackerman, who cited the device's speed and battery life. Customers liked them too, Apple said, helping push Mac sales to record levels.

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Apple's expected to announce the next generation of its home-made chip this fall, rumored to be called the M1X. That new technology is expected to help Apple wean even more of its computers off the Intel chips they still rely on. Apple has said it expects to keep selling Intel-powered Mac computers alongside its newer technology for another year or so.

Apple may also talk about some of its new augmented reality tricks. As with previous invites, this one has an AR gimmick that creates a mixed reality portal.

Check back in with CNET for all of the official details on Tuesday.