Apple's September 9 event: What to expect from the next iPhones, new Apple TV and more

The company's upcoming press event is expected to be jam-packed with new products, including the iPhone 6S, new Apple TV and iPad Pro.

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John P. Falcone is the senior director of commerce content at CNET, where he coordinates coverage of the site's buying recommendations alongside the CNET Advice team (where he previously headed the consumer electronics reviews section). He's been a CNET editor since 2003.
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John Falcone
6 min read


If it's September, it must be time for new iPhones.

Last year, Apple delivered a double whammy at its annual iPhone refresh: in addition to two big-screen phones, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus , CEO Tim Cook also unveiled the Apple Watch . The company's first foray into wearable tech didn't hit stores until the following year, but it offered seven months of hype and anticipation in the meantime -- even as the new iPhones became smash hits, delivering record profits for the world's biggest electronics manufacturer.

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For 2015, the company is looking to keep the momentum going with an even more ambitious full-court press. Though the new iPhones are expected to be more conservative upgrades than last year, Apple is expected to ratchet up the excitement by showcasing additional new products -- most notably, an all-new Apple TV box and a revamped iPad.

The event is slated for Wednesday, September 9, at San Francisco's Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. And as we count down the final hours, here's the latest rumor, speculation and informed opinion as to what we can expect later this week.

New phones: iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus

Watch this: Everything you can expect at Apple's September 9 event

New iPhones are a definite. This is an "S" model year for Apple, which means that we expect the external design to remain almost unchanged from the 2014 iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus models. But under the hood, look for a laundry list of promising upgrades. The latest credible rumors from MacRumors and 9to5Mac suggest bodies that are fractionally larger and formed from the same high-density "7000 series" aluminum used in the manufacturing of the Apple Watch. (So, even if 2014's "bendgate" was overblown, this should make for a more durable phone.) Inside, expect a faster A9 processor, better camera and a Force Touch screen -- which, also like the Apple Watch, is said to allow different and more granular touch-screen input based on how hard you press the screen.

Look for the same screen sizes (4.7-inch and 5.5-inch for the Plus), and the same basic pricing structures. Unfortunately, it looks like the entry-level phones will still start at 16GB of storage, despite nearly all similarly priced Android competitors moving up to double that.

Read: iPhone 6S rumor roundup

A new Apple TV box (finally)

Watch this: Features we want to see in the next Apple TV

It's been three years since we've seen an updated Apple TV box, but it appears that the drought will finally end on September 9. Stories from BuzzFeed and 9to5Mac point to an all-new streaming video box with what's said to be a Wii-style motion and touch-enabled remote control. The remote, along with the addition of an iPhone-like app store, will supposedly allow a flood of casual games and more channels.

Also on board is said to be Siri-enabled voice control and a universal search function. The latter means, for instance, that you can more easily check if that TV show or movie you're considering renting or buying on iTunes is available on streaming services you're already paying for (such as Netflix, Hulu or HBO). Meanwhile, Apple's rumored TV service -- a "skinny bundle" of core cable channels similar to Sling TV and Sony's PlayStation Vue -- likely won't be hitting until 2016, reports Bloomberg.

Streaming service delay notwithstanding, the new Apple TV looks to offer a nice set of upgrades. But those new features will cost you at least $149 (in the US), if the rumors are to be believed. That's more than double the $69 price of the current Apple TV . It's also far more than you'll pay for Roku streamers and Amazon's Fire TV products -- each of which already offer, to some degree, a roster of light gaming, universal search and robust channel selection similar to what Apple will be touting.

Read: The next Apple TV: What to expect

Read: Why an Apple TV game console is a no-brainer (from 2013)

Read: The next Apple TV puts company in rare role: Playing catch-up

New iPads

A bigger iPad could build on new iOS 9 features. Sarah Tew/CNET

In addition to a revamped Apple TV, the company may also be debuting a second long-rumored product upgrade: a bigger, better iPad. Dubbed the "iPad Pro," this larger tablet could wield a screen in the 12- to 13-inch range, and include the same sort of Force Touch pressure sensitive screen that's expected to be added to the new iPhones. In addition to providing ample workspace for the improved multitasking features that Apple has already debuted for iOS 9 -- such as split-screen, slide-over and picture-in-picture video -- it's possible that Apple could also further differentiate this bigger iPad with support for a stylus and keyboard (maybe even Apple-branded ones at that). It would be an intriguing move for the iPad, and one that would put it on a more competitive footing with Windows products like Microsoft's Surface and Lenovo's Yoga lines.

Beyond the iPad Pro, we could also see an iPad Air 3 and/or an iPad Mini 4.

Read: iPad Pro rumor roundup

Update on Apple Watch OS 2

Better Apple Watch apps are coming soon. James Martin/CNET

In just the past two weeks, competition in the smartphone space has ramped up considerably. Google's Android Wear smartwatch platform is now iOS-compatible, and promising Android Wear products like theHuawei Watch and new Moto 360 Fashion debuted (or was re-introduced in Huawei's case) at the IFA trade show last week in Germany. At the same show, Samsung also showcased its first 2015 smartwatch, the upcoming Gear S2. So, how will Apple respond?

The chance of new Apple Watch hardware on September 9 is negligible, but it's not even needed: Apple has already showcased an upgraded Apple Watch software -- Watch OS 2 -- that adds two big improvements: For the first time since its April release, third-party apps will be able to run natively on the watch itself (instead of streaming from a tethered iPhone) and they'll have access to the watch's internal sensors. That should reverse two of the biggest complaints about the Apple Watch -- that many of the apps were slow, and that they weren't terribly useful -- while offering the potential for a far superior wrist experience.

The September 9 event would be a perfect time to showcase some of those new Apple Watch apps, as well as offer a firm release date for the new software (beyond "later this year"), stealing the wearable spotlight back from Google and Samsung.

Read: Get ready for Apple Watch 2.0

Read: Apple Watch review (updated July 15)

What about the Mac?

The 5K iMac offers a stunning screen. Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple has already slated its free Mac OS X upgrade, dubbed El Capitan, for later this year as well. In addition to offering more details on that release timeframe, Cook and company could announce some hardware refreshes as well. While Intel's new sixth-generation Core i-series chips, nicknamed Skylake, are just about to hit the manufacturing channel, seeing new Mac laptops feels like it could be a bit premature: The MacBook Air and MacBook Pro were just upgraded back in March, and the new 12-inch MacBook was first released back in April.

For some desktop units, though, the timing could be more fortuitous. The latest rumor pegs the 21.5-inch iMac as getting a high-res 4K screen, which would bring it more in line with the screen upgrade on the 27-inch model. That larger model was last upgraded in October 2014 (with the screen upgrade trickling down to theless expensive 27-inch model earlier this year). Likewise, the entry-level Mac Mini hasn't seen an upgrade for 11 months, and the high-end Mac Pro was last refreshed at the end of 2013.

Read: Hands-on with Mac OS X El Capitan beta

All will be revealed on Wednesday -- and we'll be covering it live

Between the safe bets of new iPhones and Apple TV boxes, the possibility of new iPads and Macs, as well as more info on the Apple Watch, Wednesday looks to be jam-packed. And that doesn't even include the possibility of new tidbits on other parts of the Cupertino empire; don't discount that we may get additional news on Apple Music, Apple Pay, iOS 9, HomeKit, CarPlay and how about a new Beats headphone or speaker, for good measure?

Whatever happens, you can follow it all here, live on CNET. Our pre-game coverage begins around 9 a.m. PT, noon ET, 5 p.m. UK and 1 a.m. AEST, and we'll be live-blogging when the event starts an hour later.

Stay tuned.