For the first time, Apple Inc.’s latest iPhones and watches went on sale Friday, a test of whether a new smartphone design and modest smartwatch changes can help return the company to growth. The devices are expected to represent the company’s biggest sellers throughout the rest of the year – and its ability to both create and fulfill demand for the products will make or break its holiday period sales.
Ahead of the launch, Apple unveiled a more refined version of its iPhone Pro model with a sleeker titanium frame. It also upgraded its Apple Watch Series 9 with improved heart-rate sensors, a faster processor, and more battery life. Apple executives introduced the new iPhones at a theater on its Cupertino, California, campus that had yet to be used for a product event since the Steve Jobs Theater was opened in 2017.
Long lines formed outside Apple stores in cities such as Sydney and Shanghai. One man, Colin Seton, waited for more than eight hours to be among the first to purchase a new iPhone 15 and Series 9 Apple Watch. “I just don’t like buying old tech,” he said.
The new models are thinner and lighter than their predecessors, with 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch displays, respectively. They also feature a USB-C port to replace the Lightning connector, a change primarily dictated by European Union rules. They also offer critical safety capabilities that can help users if they get into trouble while driving, such as Crash Detection and Emergency SOS via satellite.
Another key difference from previous iPhones is the absence of a headphone jack. The phones support wireless headphones, which can connect to the earpiece on either side of the phone. They are also equipped with a new, more advanced Face ID security system that uses a combination of facial recognition, Touch ID, and an infrared camera to authenticate the user.
While there is a lot of hype surrounding the iPhone 15 and its features, most people upgrade their smartphones yearly or every other year. That’s a lot of money for these companies, and it’s part of why they keep pushing their newer products.
One of the most critical questions about the iPhone 15’s future is how it will perform in China. The country accounts for about a fifth of all Apple sales and is a vital market for the company to maintain or grow its global lead. There is no guarantee that the new iPhones will immediately impact China, but Apple will hope that the upcoming launch is the start of an extended trend toward growth.
In addition to the iPhone, Apple’s lineup includes the iPad Pro and Apple TV, which are expected to have more potent than usual holiday quarter sales this year. The company also offers the Mac, its cheapest laptop computer. The Mac is expected to have a higher-than-usual revenue run this year, partly due to the release of a revamped MacBook Air with better performance and cheaper pricing.