Connectivity, chips, cameras – Apple 2021 hardware event reveals

Apple held its first fall hardware-centric event, introducing the 2021 range of iPhones, iPads, and wearables.
15 September 2021

What’s new from Apple’s iPhone 13 event? Source: AFP

  • Apple’s event showcased the new Apple Watch Series 7 alongside the new 9th-generation low-cost iPad and the iPad mini 6
  • The next-generation iPhone 13 lineup would feature a 1TB storage option in January, catching up to Samsung that introduced the storage option 2 years ago
  • Cupertino also announced updates coming to Fitness Plus, its workout service

The Apple event this week was the company’s first big 2021 hardware event to take place during the fall — titled “California Streaming” — and it gave iFans a slew of new gadget announcements, including a new entry-level iPad, a redesigned iPad mini, a new Apple Watch, and a bunch of new iPhone 13 models. Overall, it took Apple an hour and twenty minutes to introduce the new devices with an expanded focus on 5G connectivity, faster chips, and sharper cameras — all while maintaining the phone’s price.

The iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini

Despite all the talk about improved camera features during the iPhone 13 unveiling, the average person probably won’t notice much of a difference between the 2021 model and the iPhone 12 introduced at the Apple event last year.

But what’s worth noting is the better battery life. Apple has used a larger battery in the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini. The company said it will last up to an hour and a half longer than the iPhone 12. The iPhone 13 Pro is touted to have a 1.5-hour longer battery life and its bigger sibling will have a 2.5-hour longer battery life, Apple said. 

The iPhone 13 Pro starts at US$999 and the Pro Max starts at US$1,099, the same prices as last year. Interestingly, Apple also has added a larger 1TB storage option for the first time. The current iPhone 12 maxes out at 512 GB capacity. In the context of the wider smartphone market, the iPhone has lagged a little behind here. For instance, smartphone competitor Samsung began offering 1TB phones with the Galaxy S10 series almost two years ago.

The biggest distinguishing characteristic between iPhone’s base models and its Pro models is that they have three rear-facing cameras, including a zoom lens, a wide lens, and an ultra-wide camera, which can focus on objects as close as two centimeters away. The iPhone 13 Pro has a display that Apple calls “Super Retina XDR with ProMotion” that has twice the refresh rate as previous iPhones. This means that scrolling on an iPhone should look smoother with less lag.

Apple held its annual iPhone-centric event today, introducing the 2021 range of iPhone 13 mini, ‌iPhone 13‌, iPhone 13 Pro, and ‌iPhone 13 Pro‌ Max

Apple CEO Tim Cook with the iPhone 13 Pro Max and Apple Watch Series 7. (Photo by Handout / Apple Inc. / AFP)

The Pro models have the same chip as the main iPhones, the A15 Bionic, and this year’s models are still constructed out of stainless steel, Apple’s marketing chief Greg Joswiak said.

2021 Apple Watch with bigger screen

When Apple introduced the Apple Watch Series 7 today, what was notable was the smaller bezels and a 20% bigger screen than the Series 6, with the same curved edges. It’s has a more durable design, with an IPX6 rating, making it the most rugged Apple Watch yet. 

Apple says that it is also shipping the Series 7 with a faster-charging puck that will charge it up to 33% faster. The Series 7 will be available later this fall and will start at US$399. Apple will continue to sell the Apple Watch SE and Series 3 but will discontinue the Series 6.

Alongside a new watch, Apple shared updates that are coming to Fitness+, its fitness service designed around Apple Watch. Apple announced that the service will become available in many more countries this fall, including Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, France, Italy, Russia, and more. Content will be subtitled in six languages.

Also in the fall, Fitness+ will roll out Group Workouts, powered by Share Play. The interactive wearable feature enables subscribers to exercise alongside their friends via FaceTime or a group message thread, no matter from where in the world they are streaming. Up to 32 people can exercise together at once.

Redesigned iPad Mini & and entry-level iPad

Apple also introduced a newly redesigned iPad mini that looks very similar to the previous iPad Air. However, it has new and improved front and rear camera systems, and charges via USB-C, opening the device up to faster charging and support for newer accessories. 

Meanwhile, Apple’s new entry-level iPad looks very similar to the previous 10.2-inch iPad. Apple however gave it an upgraded A13 Bionic chipset, a much-improved selfie camera ( a 12-megapixel, ultra-wide lens that supports CenterStage), support for True Tone, and it starts at 64GB of storage.

The company also updated its iPad Mini with 5G connectivity and industry watchers reckon the diminutive tablet was the most surprising announcement at the 2021 Apple event, speculating it could lure in customers who want a device with 5G that can handle more powerful apps than a phone.