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Highlights from Apple’s California Streaming event

Posted on September 15, 2021

Apple just held a major event that they called “California Streaming”. As expected, the big announcement was the new iPhone 13 lineup, but there were also some important developments for iPad and Apple Watch users as well. 

Here are the highlights, including details of pricing and availability:

iPhone 13 gets a new chip

Apple’s iPhone 13 lineup includes the iPhone 13 Pro Max (starting at $1,099), iPhone 13 Pro (starting at $999), iPhone 13 (starting at $799), and iPhone 13 mini (starting at $699).

All iPhone 13 models are powered by the new A15 Bionic chip, which Apple says is its fastest smartphone chip ever. The A15 boasts a new 6‑core CPU (with 2 performance and 4 efficiency cores), a new 5‑core GPU, and a new 16‑core Neural Engine.

It’s all about the cameras

In terms of new features, Apple seems to have put the most effort into its camera offerings. The iPhone 13 gets an upgraded dual-camera system, including a new Ultra Wide camera that provides better detail in dark areas of a photo and a new Wide camera that improves low-light photography. The iPhone 13 mini packs the same dual-camera system into its 5.4-inch form factor, enabled by Apple’s decision to go with a diagonal architecture for the positioning of the cameras.

Meanwhile, the Pro camera system in the iPhone 13 Pro Max and iPhone 13 Pro offers even more, including superior options for low-light shooting, an improved telephoto zoom feature, and macro photography (the ability to take photos of very small subjects in larger-than-life detail).

In addition, all iPhone 13 models come with Apple’s new “Cinematic mode” for video. Cinematic mode makes it possible for users to create dynamic videos that have a shallow depth-of-field effect. It does this by automatically changing the focus on the different subjects in the video. The iPhone does this on the fly, but users can also make adjustments in editing after shooting the video. 

More features and availability 

In non-camera news, Apple says that the iPhone 13 line will have better battery life than ever before.

The Pro range also packs more memory. If you’re willing to pay for it, you can now get up to 1TB of storage on both the iPhone 13 Pro Max and the iPhone 13 Pro.

  • Preorder: September 17
  • Available: September 24

iPad and iPad mini

Apple’s California Streaming Event also introduced changes to the iPad lineup.

The 10.2-inch iPad (starting at $329) is now powered by the A13 Bionic chip. Apple says that this will deliver a 20% performance boost over the previous generation of iPads. 

The iPad 9th generation also has an enhanced display that comes with True Tone, the Center Stage video calling feature previously available only to iPad Pro users, and support for Apple Pencil.

Perhaps the most significant upgrade to the iPad is capacity: the entry-level model now starts with 64GB of storage.

While the upgraded iPad is impressive, the iPad mini (starting at $499) was probably the biggest iPad news of the day.

The littlest iPad now runs on the same A15 Bionic chip found in the iPhone 13. Apple says that this will boost its CPU performance by 40% and its graphics performance by up to 80%.

And although its footprint is still compact, the redesigned iPad mini now has a larger, 8.3-inch Liquid Retina display. To make this edge-to-edge screen design possible, Apple has moved Touch ID to the iPad mini’s top button.

In addition, the revamped iPad mini will now support 5G, and comes with a USB-C port for faster data transfer. 

  • Preorder: now
  • Available: September 24

Apple Watch Series 7

As expected, Apple also introduced the next version of Apple Watch: the Apple Watch Series 7 (starting at $399).

The new Apple Watch brings a few welcome changes, but the one most likely to interest users is the design. The Series 7 has narrower borders (40% smaller than the Apple Watch Series 6). This gives it a larger screen size while keeping the overall form factor comparable to its predecessors. 

In addition, Apple Watch Series 7 comes with an upgraded user interface that makes use of the bigger display. This includes larger font sizes and an enhanced keyboard designed to make typing easier. 

Apple says that the Series 7 is significantly more durable as well, with a re-engineered front crystal that is more than 50% thicker than the one that shipped with the Apple Watch Series 6.

Lastly, the Apple Watch Series 7 has a redesigned charging architecture. Apple says that this will speed up charging by as much as 33%.

  • Preorder and Availability: later this fall

About those OS upgrades

Apple also provided information about the release dates for the OSes related to the product lines featured in the California Streaming event.

Apple says that it will release iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and watchOS 8 on September 20. We’ll have more information about the security and privacy features included in those releases in due course, so stay tuned!

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