What to expect at Apple’s iPhone 15 “Wonderlust” event

Apple Wonderlust logo
Apple’s made its iPhone 15 launch event formal, with its next launch event set for September 12. Let’s dive into the rumour pool to see what’s likely to happen.

Death, taxes and Apple holding an annual September iPhone launch event. In the modern day, these are the realities of life.

Apple’s sent out its “invites” to its next event under the “Wonderlust” banner, because it actively enjoys the cryptic attention it gets with event names, stating that it’ll take place September 12th 2023 at 10am PT.

What does that mean in Australian time?

As usual, if you’re super-keen (or you ended up a tech journo for a living, like some of us around here), it means a rather early morning wakeup call. Or all nighter if you’re into that kind of thing or live out west, potentially speaking.

Time Zone Apple Wonderlust Event Australian Time/Date
Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane (AEST) 3am September 13
Adelaide/Darwin/Broken Hill (ACST) 2:30am September 13
Perth (AWST) 1am September 13

Somebody pass the coffee. Lots of it.

What to expect at Apple’s Wonderlust event

Smart money says that we’ll open with some kind of music number, sweeping vistas leading into the Steve Jobs theater in Cupertino and Tim Cook talking up Apple’s business fortunes and probably environmental outlook.

This isn’t just preening, because while Apple does want to hype up some shiny new toys, it’s also an effort to impress Wall Street and keep the Apple share price bobbing along nicely.

With that out of the way, Mr Cook will inevitably cross to the actual meat of the event; the product launch bits. Clearly, only he knows exactly what’s in store, but that never stops the rumour mills from churning as much as possible. Here’s what they’re saying — and my thoughts on each rumour.

Apple iPhone 15 rumours

Apple iPhone
CONFIRMED: It won’t look like this.

  • Four models: iPhone 15 (6.1 inch), iPhone 15 Plus (6.7 inch), iPhone 15 Pro (6.1 inch), iPhone 15 Pro Max (6.7 inch).
  • Dynamic Island: No longer a lonely island on the Pro/Max boat.
  • Mute button muted: Will we see an action button instead?
  • Lightning no more: USB-C in for ports, Lightning out.
  • New colours: Green seems likely, PRODUCT(RED) changes?
  • A17 Chip: But maybe only for the Pro models
  • Better optical zoom: But again, maybe only for the Pro models
  • 5G ready: But will we FINALLY see mmWave down under?

Alex’s Take:

The iPhone’s the star of the show in terms of rumours and attention, and there’s really little doubt that — while Apple may announce other new hardware — it’s what will get the attention.

After all, the iPhone remains the engine that drives Apple’s core revenue, because people, especially in Australia, buy a lot of iPhones.

The lineup in terms of models isn’t all that surprising, although it will be interesting to see how the iPhone 15 Plus fares. A lot of reporting suggested that consumers didn’t in fact flock to the iPhone 14 Plus, and there was a certain amount of grumbling that the Mini model got the chop. It too, however, never really seemed to generate sales in the numbers Apple wanted.

The “Dynamic Island” interactive display that Apple launched on the iPhone 14 Pro/Max lines is expected to become available across all of its 2023 iPhones. A predictable but nice step, that one, because it does make smart use of the space around the FaceTime camera.

The other big design rumour is that Apple will drop the mute switch on the left side of the iPhone in favour of a more general action button. If accurate, that’ll be an interesting one if only because of Apple’s general control mantra. Not a bad idea to maybe add more than muting to that side, but I’d be willing to bet it’ll be tied to some very specific interactions with your iPhone, not a wider or more configurable set of choices, because that’s very much an Apple kind of approach.

USB-C feels all but assured at this point, not that Apple has exactly come here willingly.

It’s offered USB-C on MacBooks and iPads for quite some time, but the iPhone remained holy Lightning-only ground. It’s unlikely to not want to sell iPhones in the EU, however, so the switch either has to happen now or next year — though I think next year might be cutting it fine in terms of deadlines to sell actual products.

It’s rumoured that the Pro/Max models might support faster data transfer speeds than the regular iPhone 15 variants.

What’s more interesting to me here than just faster basic data transfer from a MacBook is what else Apple does and does not allow that USB-C port to actually do.

Taking iPads as an example, the USB-C models there will work with USB-C peripherals, but Apple’s totally non-committal on which ones will or won’t work. It’s a guessing game, but Apple realises that the creative professionals who buy iPad Pros do want to hook up — for example — their DSLRs and captured video footage and the like to get to work with them.

On the iPhone, it’s a different story, and I could see Apple making the iPhone 15’s USB-C port a much more power and simple data only story. Full unfettered USB-C access would enable storage expansion on iPhones, and Apple’s never been keen on that.

AirPods Pro

We may also see new AirPods/Pro with USB-C at the Wonderlust Event, but there it appears more to be with just a power story, not a data one. Because you don’t need to shift data to AirPods outside firmware updates, really.

Colour choice rumours always have to be taken with a grain of salt, but the “leaked” pictures suggest that we’ll see the iPhone 15/Plus models in blue, yellow, pink, white and black and maybe a new green colour.

None of those names are final, though Apple typically doesn’t go quite as nuts as some with superlative prefixes for its colour choices. There’s also the suggestion that a new red shade may be part of that pack… which leaves me wondering what happens to a PRODUCT(RED) version. Not only is it a good cause (and good publicity for Apple), but having a competing brighter red hue might cut into those sales. That’s a wait and see prospect.

For the Pro models, the colour story seems more sedate, with Space Black, Titanium and Blue hues suggested for this year’s Pro-grade iPhones. The colours in that Wonderlust logo would seem to point that way too.

Apple’s iPhones have for years now been ahead of the Android pack in power terms, but rumours suggest that Apple might be making an interesting power split here, with the newer, presumably A17 chip reserved only for the Pro models. The iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus have been tipped to get the variant of the A16 found in the current Apple iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max models.

OK, well, it won’t just be the A17, it’ll be the A17 HyperCompuGlobalPhoenixMegalon or something, because Apple does like a superlative when it comes to its processor names for mobile devices. Such is marketing.

But does the power difference matter when they’re already really quite powerful? For the end consumer maybe not, though it does make telling the iPhone upgrade story a little bit trickier.

Apple will keep some models of the iPhone 14/Plus around as lower cost options, and while those will have slightly slower processors, they’ll still be “enough” for many consumers. Apple charges a premium for its iPhones across the board, and when you’re paying that kind of premium money, not getting quite the best and newest might not appeal.

On the camera front it’s all about the iPhone 14 Pro/Max models, with again a predicted split… but this time between the Pro and Pro Max models. Specifically, it’s being suggested that Apple will boost the iPhone 14 Pro Max camera with the use of a 6x periscope lens to better compete with the longer shooting distances of some of its rivals, most notably Samsung.

If true, that would be a big change for Apple, simply because for the past few years the Pro and Pro Max models have differed on screen size and battery capacity, but little else. It could somewhat stick the Pro model into a somewhat pricey ghetto, given the camera-centric professional focus of those models.

While it’s great that we do see Satellite SOS on newer iPhones — and it’d be shocking if it wasn’t part of the iPhone 15/Pro lineup — I’m still keenly waiting for Apple to make mmWave 5G part of the Australian iPhone story. I’d love to be proven wrong on this Apple, but my inner cynic suggests that we’ll once again be stuck in a sub-6Ghz ghetto again, given that rumours suggest an upgrade to Qualcomm’s internal modems rather than Apple-designed 5G chips. Prove me wrong, Apple — please?

Apple Watch 9 Rumours

Apple Watch
The other nearly-assured (again, Tim won’t return my phone calls asking why… funny that) device that’s likely to make its stage debut at the Wonderlust event is the Apple Watch 9. Here though, there’s less excitement in the rumour mills.

  • Upgraded internals: Faster is rarely bad
  • New Apple Watch Ultra: Or… not.
  • Is everything on pause for the Apple Watch X? Updates might be mildly iterative

Alex’s Take:

Leaks around the Apple Watch have basically just focused on two simple factors. Firstly, it’s expected that the 2023 crop of Apple Watches — expected in 41mm and 45mm sizes — will run on a new S9 chip said to be considerably faster than the prior generation. Power’s great as is speed, but Apple will need some kind of better use case for the Apple Watch to make it really stand out.

It’s also not clear if we’ll see an upgrade to the Apple Watch Ultra at the event either. That’s Apple’s newest watch line, and it’s very much meant to be the durable king of the hill, so it’s not like anyone who bought an Apple Watch Ultra last year really needs a new one already. It’s also expected that Apple won’t debut a new cheaper Apple Watch SE at the Wonderlust event.

But it’s all really tied around at a rumour level around whether or not Apple’s really just floating with the tide this year when it comes to the Apple Watch.

The suggestion is that Apple will release an updated “Apple Watch X” either next year or the year after with completely revised magnetic watch bands.

Forward looking Apple rumours to that extent always get the extra pointy grain of salt applied to them, but it might mean that the current crop gets few updates along the way, because more exciting models aren’t that far off. There’s also the problem here that Apple knows it’s much harder to get anyone into updating a watch all that frequently. Does anyone update their Apple Watch annually? Let me know below if you do… and why.

Apple iPad/MacBook Rumours

  • Maybe…
  • But then again, maybe not.

Alex’s Take:

OK, that doesn’t give you much to go on.

But that’s because there doesn’t seem to be much to go on. Apple absolutely could use its Wonderlust event to launch new iPad models — maybe a Pro, maybe a new Mini — and likewise update the MacBook line with shiny new M3 chips.

Or… maybe not.

Apple has run with multiple end-of-year launch events in the past, and it’s entirely feasible that it could do so again, especially if it has to line up with actual production schedules for new iPads or MacBooks.

There’s been precious little in credible rumours here leaking from Apple’s factory partners, so it seems more likely that we’ll just get an iPhone and Watch combo in the early hours of September 13.

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