All the usual ingredients of an Apple fall announcement were there. Dramatic drone shots of the spaceshiplike campus, a brief nod to the current woes of the world, executives rattling off superlatives about lightly upgraded gadgets.
But Tuesday's Apple "event" -- a prerecorded video people agreed to watch on the Internet at the same time -- was missing something big: new iPhones. Where were you, iPhone 12, if that's even your real name?
The omission isn't a surprise, but it's still unusual. For a company that built its brand on innovation, Apple has become pretty predictable. Every fall it announces its latest iPhones. The company has announced new iPhones every September since 2012. The year prior, in 2011, the iPhone 4s was announced in October.
However, Apple has delayed the release of its phones before, most recently the iPhone X, which wasn't in stores until November.
When is the iPhone 12 coming?
Analysts expect the new phones to be announced in October at the earliest. Apple confirmed that the iPhone would be late on an earnings call back in July, when Luca Maestri, the company's chief financial officer, said iPhone supply was going to be available a few weeks later than usual.
A month might not seem like a big deal, but Apple wants all its new products released and in stock ahead of the holiday rush. That should be especially true if that rush could be dampened by fewer people shopping in stores and families not having holiday gatherings because of the novel coronavirus.
A month seems long. What am I even waiting for?
Apple is expected to release four new iPhone models, ranging in size from 5.4 to 6.7 inches. If they follow Apple's most recent naming conventions -- and the overused trend of slapping "Max" and "Pro" on the end of every product name -- we could get an iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Max, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max. Minor upgrades could include tweaks to the exterior design and better cameras, including a depth-sensing back camera. As for design, the new iPad Air that Apple announced Tuesday has flat edges, which could be a sign of what's to come on any new iPhones.
The main addition will likely be support for 5G, the cellular network that promises lightning-fast download and upload speeds ... eventually.
Every new iPhone needs one big enticing feature to persuade people to give up the still-functioning iPhone they bought two or so years ago. The iPhone 11, for example, added an impressive lowlight mode and tried to make "slofies" happen. IPhone sales have been slowing for years, thanks to an end to carrier subsidies and Apple offering inexpensive battery replacements. But with so many people stuck at home and connecting happily over their WiFi, its unclear whether 5G will be the jolt to sales Apple wants.
Why is it delayed?
This is 2020. Up is down, the country is simultaneously on fire and fending off hurricanes. Apple CEO Tim Cook is presenting new products to an invisible audience, and we're still in the throes of a pandemic that has hit Apple sales, stores and production.
Apple warned investors that the virus was disrupting production back in February. In addition to issues with its supply chain, much of Apple's U.S. staff has been working from home, and its stores worldwide have had to shut down, although many have reopened with new restrictions.
Fine, no iPhone 12 today. What can I buy soon?
Apple announced two new Apple Watches, including a lower-cost Apple Watch SE and the Apple Watch Series 6, which can measure blood oxygen levels. Both will be available September 18. A new 8th generation iPad will start at $329 and also be out at the end of week. The $599 and up iPad Air, however, isn't coming until some time in October.
Additionally, sometime before the end of 2020, Apple says you'll be able to sign up for the new Fitness+ service which will cost $10 a month. Its all-in-one Apple One bundle of various services is coming this fall starting at $15 a month.
And the company already released a new phone earlier this year, the lower-cost iPhone SE. An update to its last beloved iPhone SE, cherished for being small enough to fit into the smallest pocket and sturdy enough to open a beer, the new SE is only the same in name and price range.
For a quick hit of newness, the latest operating systems will be available tomorrow, including the new iOS.
Do you absolutely have to get something that can connect to 5G right this second? Well, Veruca Salt, Samsung and OnePlus are here for you and already sell their own 5G phones. The 5G networks, however, still have some catching up to do.