Apple's Sept. 12 event: What to expect from the new iPhone 8, Apple Watch and more

Apple's expected to debut the iPhone 7S and 8, an LTE-enabled Apple Watch and updates to HomePod.

Lynn La Senior Editor / Reviews - Phones
Lynn La covers mobile reviews and news. She previously wrote for The Sacramento Bee, Macworld and The Global Post.
Lynn La
5 min read
Sarah Tew/CNET
Watch this: Apple set to launch the next iPhone on September 12

Even if you don't have an iPhone or plan on getting a new one, you should still pay attention to Apple's September 12 event. For one thing, it takes place in a new location, Apple Park, the company's new headquarters in Cupertino, California.

But the highlight of the show will be new iPhones, including one rumored to feature high-end hardware and a completely new design that will shake up the whole lineup going forward.

If that's still not enough to catch a curious eye, there may be a new smartwatch, a new Apple TV box, and possibly more info on the company's previously announced smart-speaker, the HomePod, which won't hit store shelves until December. CNET will have live coverage on the ground, and report as events unfold. Until then, here's what we can expect next Tuesday.

Apple's policy isn't to comment on rumor and speculation, so note that everything below is purely conjecture.

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New iPhone 8, iPhone 7S

Apple is expected to release the next generation of the iPhone, which would be the iPhone 7S and iPhone 7S Plus. Since this is an "S" year, don't expect major design changes from last year's iPhone 7. Instead, look for a processor boost, camera improvements and other under-the-hood upgrades.

There is, however, heavy speculation that Apple will launch a special anniversary iPhone, which the internet has dubbed iPhone 8. Rumored features for the pricier iPhone 8 include facial recognition as an alternative to Touch ID, a dual-lens camera with possible vertical configuration, a nearly all-screen design with Apple's first OLED display and a stainless steel and glass body.

We don't even know if it'll even be called the iPhone 8. It may in fact be called the iPhone 10, iPhone X, iPhone Pro or iPhone Edition. Even the latest rumor about what we're calling the iPhone 7S and 7S Plus indicates it may be called… the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. Confused yet?

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Apple Watch with LTE

Last year, we got two new Apple Watch models, the Series 2 and Series 1. Like those models, the rumored Apple Watch Series 3 (as we assume it'll be called) will run WatchOS 4, which Apple previewed in June. But the new hardware is also rumored to get cellular LTE capabilities. This means you won't need to tether your iPhone to the watch for connectivity, giving the Apple Watch a new level of portability and usability -- if Apple has cracked the battery life conundrum, that is. A possible design refresh has also been rumored.

Updates on HomePod and Siri

Earlier in June during its developers conference WWDC 2017, Apple introduced its HomePod, a $349 (about £270, AU$465, converted) Siri-powered smart home speaker that will be available for retail in December. Apple didn't give out all the info when it was debuting it, however, so expect more details to be revealed. Mostly, we hope to confirm what has already been leaked from the HomePod firmware update that was unintentionally leaked by Apple itself. This includes the existence of some sort of matrix screen, a full version of iOS and more. We'll also likely hear updates about Apple's digital voice assistant Siri and new smart-home functionality in relation to the HomePod.

Watch this: Apple's HomePod is a smart speaker for your home

Apple TV with 4K streaming capabilities

When Tim Cook announced in June that Apple TV would be adding Amazon Prime video in the fall, he also teased that more Apple TV news would be announced, too. Considering it's been two years since Apple updated its streaming TV box, it's high-time for an update given how much digital and streaming media has changed. Fortunately, there are rumors that a new Apple TV is in the works, which will include a new processor capable of streaming high-resolution 4K video with HDR compatibility. This isn't particularly new (Netflix debuted 4K streaming in April 2014, followed by Amazon and YouTube the year after), but it'll at least make Apple TV competitive. The upgrade rumor was recently boosted by stories that the company is currently in talks with studios about acquiring rights to stream 4K video.

Software updates: iOS 11, MacOS High Sierra and AR

What an AR app for 'The Walking Dead' might look like.

GIF by Morgan Little/CNET

Apple already introduced its latest mobile operating system iOS 11 during WWDC and it has since been available for public beta. With the new iPhones, we'll get a full look at what iOS 11 can do, so expect more details. So far, we've gotten a peek to see that Siri and the Control Center will both get an interface refresh; the camera app will have a handful of more tools; the lock screen and notification center will merge and more. iOS 11 also significantly enhances newer iPads, offering a wider dock, and more flexible split-screen options.

iOS 11 also delivers ARKit, Apple's augmented-reality toolset that lets recent iPhones and iPads "interact" with virtual objects by overlaying them in the real world. (It's already so good that Google completely revamped its AR approach to keep up.) Look for a heretofore unseen AR demo to be highlighted on stage.

Not everything is mobile though. The most recent iteration of Apple's desktop OS, MacOS High Sierra has been in beta since August. It's expected to be ready for rollout in September so we're sure Apple will want to talk about it. It's a small update from the previous OS, but its best features include turning off autoplay videos; GIF-making capabilities from the native Photos app and the ability to stop advertisers from tracking your data.

iOS 11's best features for iPhone and iPad

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What not to expect (plus a few longshots)

Given all this, there are a few things we're pretty sure won't make an appearance on Tuesday. That includes any new iPads, since updated versions/capacities have been released earlier in March (9.7-inch iPad 2017) and June (10.5- and 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2017). Ditto on any new iMac announcements since the lineup was almost fully upgraded earlier in the year, and the fancy $4,999 iMac Pro -- also previously announced -- is already slated to go on sale in December (£4,949 or AU$6,715, converted).

That being said, nothing's for sure until the day of, so anything can happen really. Maybe Apple will make a random announcement unveiling some new special-edition red AirPods, or a new iPad Mini (which hasn't been updated since 2015), or even a VR headset. Whatever it is, CNET will be reporting from Apple Park so stay tuned with more information.

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