Top 5 Takeaways From Apple Event: Apple Watch Ultra, iPhone 14, Satellite Communication, and More

At today’s big ‘Far Out’ event, Apple launched the next generation iPhone 14 series, alongside upgraded AirPods, new Apple Watches, and more. The company took to the famed Steve Jobs Theater at Apple Park Campus in Cupertino, California to launch new hardware as well as showcase the upcoming iOS 16 and iPad OS 16.

The all-new iPhone 14 lineup has four models, the regular iPhone 14, the iPhone 14 Plus, the iPhone 14 Pro, and the iPhone 14 Pro Max. Fans of the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 13 Mini will be disappointed as Apple has omitted a ‘Mini’ model this time around. The iPhone 14 line-up, specifically, the Pro models feature major updates such as a new notch design, the all-new Apple A16 Bionic chip, a new 48MP primary rear camera, and better battery life.

Here is an in-depth look at the top 5 takeaways from Apple’s big event:

Also read: iPhone 14 series with A16 Bionic, 48MP triple cameras launched in India: price in India, specifications, sale date

iPhone 14 Pro models with meaningful updates

This time around, there is quite a big distinction between the iPhone 14 Pro / Pro Max and non-Pro models. Both the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max feature a new front design with redesigned TrueDepth and Face ID components  – 30 per cent smaller than before. In other words, there is finally a smaller pill-shaped notch.

The pill-shaped cut-out leads to a new notification UI called ‘Dynamic Island’ which expands to notify you of alerts and also gives bite-sized information in apps such as Maps and Music. Notifications pop out of the notch in an animation. Apple claims “Each alert has its own personality and has been designed with its own character.” We are excited to explore this and see how it fits in to larger scheme of things.

iPhone 14 Pro

The iPhone 14 Pro has a 6.1-inch OLED display and the iPhone 14 Pro Max has a 6.7-inch OLED display. Both panels have a peak HDR brightness of 1600 Nits. With the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, Apple is also finally bringing an Always On Display to the iPhone. This is made possible by a number of new technologies that make the display power efficient – the panel can lower its refresh rate to as low as 1Hz and intelligently dim when required.

The new Pro iPhones are powered by the new Apple A16 Bionic chipset which features 16 billion transistors – the most ever in an iPhone. Built on a 4nm process, Apple claims the 6-core A16 Bionic is the fastest chip in a smartphone – more than 40 per cent faster than the competition. The A16 also has an entirely new display engine which allows for the aforementioned 1Hz refresh rate and high peak brightness.

The A16 has a new Image Signal Processor which powers what Apple claims as their most powerful Pro camera system ever. There is a 48MP quad-pixel primary sensor which is 65 per cent larger than the one on the iPhone 13 Pro. It has an aperture of f/1.78 and a 24m focal length. It groups every sensor into one large quad sensor resulting in 12MP images. This pixel binning also allows Apple to crop the sensor in various ways, allowing for a true 2x zoom using only the primary camera. You can also shoot ProRAW images at full 48MP resolution.

There’s also a 12MP ultra-wide camera with an aperture of f.2.2, 1.4-micron pixels, and a focal length of 33mm. Apple claims a 3x improvement in low light photos and better macro photography. Lastly, there is an improved 12MP telephoto sensor with 3X optical zoom. A new ‘Photonic Engine’ also allows for dramatic improvement in low light performance across all four cameras – up to 2x better with the TrueDepth, 48MP main, and 12MP telephoto sensor, and up to 3x better with the ultra-wide sensor.

The new camera setup allows for the capture of 4K/30fps video as well as 4K/24fps. Also on board is a new advanced stabilisation mode called ‘Action mode’, which utilises the full sensor with more overscan and roll correction for much better stabilization. When it comes to battery life, Apple simply states an ‘all-day battery life’ with no tangible numbers provided.

Both iPhone 14 Pro models will go on sale on September 16 in the United States. In India, the iPhone 14 Pro starts at Rs 1,29,900 and the iPhone 14 Pro Max starts at Rs 1,39,900.

Apple Watch Series 8 and cheaper SE

The Apple Watch Series 8 has an always-on display with narrow borders and new watch faces such as modular and astrology. It is swim-proof, dustproof and crack-resistant and comes with features such as sleep tracking, cycle tracking, ECG, blood oxygen monitoring, and fall detection.

New to the Series 8 is a new temperature sensor array for improved cycle tracking and tracking ovulation. A sensor on the back and one under the display samples wrist temperature every 0.5 seconds allowing users to track nightly shifts in baseline temperature. Cyclical patterns can reveal the biphasic shift, which can indicate ovulation. Users can thus be notified of possible cycle deviations based on past data. Knowing if and when you ovulated can help in family planning. Cycle tracking data is encrypted on the device.

The latest generation Apple Watch can also detect if you were in a car crash and notify emergency services and emergency contacts. The watch has two new sensors – an improved gyroscope and a new accelerometer, which can sample motion 4x faster than the old one.

The Series 8 has all-day 18-hour battery life. But now there is also a low-power mode that can provide 36 hours of battery life on a full charge. It maintains core features like activity tracking but disables the always-on display and auto workout detection.

The Apple Watch Series 8 will be available in four colours – Midnight, Starlight, Silver, and Product Red, as well as 3 stainless steel variants – Silver, Gold, and Graphite. The new wearable will start from Rs 45,900 in India (GPS, 41mm) with the 45mm model starting at Rs 48,900. Meanwhile, the GPS + Cellular version has a base price of Rs 55,900, going all the way up to Rs 58,900 for the 45mm GPS + Cellular trim.

As a side note, Apple also introduced a cheaper Apple Watch SE. The second generation SE is swim-proof and features emergency SOS, fall detection, and the same motion sensors as found on the Series 8. It also supports the above-mentioned crash detection. The display is 30 per cent larger than Series 3 and is powered by the same S8 SoC as in Series 8, making it 20 per cent faster than its predecessor. The Apple Watch SE 2 is offered in colours like Midnight, Starlight, and Silver, with prices starting at Rs 29,900 for the base GPS-only model.

Apple Watch Ultra

Apple also introduced a brand new Apple Watch – dubbed the Apple Watch Ultra. Apple claims this rugged smartwatch has been designed for explorers and adventurers. It has a completely new design and features an aerospace-grade titanium case, flat sapphire front crystal, a new bigger orange-coloured action button, the biggest and brightest display in an Apple Watch yet, three microphones, and two speakers. It is MIL-STD 810 certified and is water resistant up to a depth of 100 metres.

Apple Watch Ultra

Cellular is built into every Apple Watch Ultra. It also has the biggest battery Apple has put in an Apple Watch yet. The company claims 36 hrs of use on a single charge and 60 hrs extended battery life with a new optimisation setting coming later this fall. There is also a new ‘Wayfinder’ watch face, which can be customised for different scenarios – be it mountains, oceans, or trails. The watch face also has a Red mode for visibility in the dark.

The Apple Watch Ultra features a new advanced precision dual frequency GPS solution and a customisable action button which allows for instant transition between sports. Apple claims the Ultra can withstand freezing cold mountains as well as the blazing desert heat. An SOS siren can also be activated to alert emergency services. Prices start at Rs 89,990 (and $799 in the US) and it will be available starting September 23.

Cheap(er) big screen iPhone

After years of Mini iPhone models, we finally have a cheaper big-screen iPhone. Alongside the 6.1-inch iPhone 14, Apple introduced the iPhone 14 Plus with a 6.7-inch Super Retina XDR display. The OLED panel on both smartphones has 1200Nits of brightness and Dolby Vision support.

With the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus, Apple claims the best battery life ever in an iPhone. The iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus are powered by the A15 Bionic – the same chip found in last year’s iPhone 13 Pro. The A15 is a six-core CPU with two high-performance cores, four efficiency cores and a neural engine.

The main camera has been upgraded to 12MP with an aperture of f.1.5, OIS, and 1.9micron pixels. Apple touts a 49 percent improvement in low light and a night mode that is twice as fast as before. Up front, the iPhone 14 and iPhone Plus have a 12MP front camera with an aperture of f/1.9 and autofocus – a first for the iPhone line-up.

‘Photonic Engine’ is a new feature that Apple claims drastically improves low-light images – up to 2x on the front camera, 2x on the ultra-wide camera, and 2.5x on the main camera. Also on board is a new advanced stabilisation mode called Action mode. It uses the full sensor with more overscan and roll correction for much better stabilization.

The crash detection feature we talked about above is also present on the new iPhone 14 models. This is facilitated via a new gyroscope and accelerometer. The smartphones will be offered in five colours – Midnight, Starlight, Blue, Purple, and Product Red. In India, the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus will start at Rs 79,900 and Rs 89,900, respectively.

AirPods Pro 2

The Apple AirPods Pro 2nd generation earbuds were also unveiled at the event. The new true wireless earbuds feature a new H2 chip with high bandwidth connectivity, a new low distortion audio driver and a custom amplifier. They also come with improvements to Apple’s much touted Spatial audio feature which delivers 360-degree sound. Now, Personalised Spatial Audio uses the TrueDepth camera to tune Spatial Audio just for you. Also on board is improved Active Noise Cancellation. Apple claims up to 2x better noise cancellation as compared to the previous generation AirPods Pro.

AirPods Pro 2

A new capacitive sensing layer on the stems of the earbuds allows you to adjust the volume by swiping up and down. The new AirPods Pro offer up to 6 hours of playback on a single charge and up to 30 hours with the included charging case. A speaker has been added to the bottom of the case in order to help locate it easily via Apple’s Find My service. The new AirPods Pro will be available to order for Rs 26,900 from in the US and more than 50 other countries and regions starting Friday, September 9.

Bonus: Satellite communication

One of the biggest announcements at today’s iPhone 14 event was the new iPhone model’s capability to make calls and send texts even when there is no cellular coverage. Communication satellites allow for the transmission of emergency messages even when there is no cellular coverage. However, as they are hundreds of miles above the earth you need specialized equipment, as well as a clear area devoid of interference, to connect with them.

iPhone 14 satellite

However, now Apple claims they have “designed and built custom components and software to allow iPhone antennas to connect to [these] satellites.” You have to point the iPhone 14 directly at a satellite in order to use the service. Apple has created a custom short text algorithm which allows you to send a message in 15 seconds if you have a clear view of the sky via these communication satellites. The custom short text compression system reduces message sizes by 3x.

This service will launch in November and will be free for the first two years. It will initially be available only in USA and Canada.