September keynote 2023: Apple Watch Series 9, Apple Watch Ultra 2, iPhone 15 (Plus) and iPhone 15 Pro (Max)

Apple just streamed its annual September keynote with new announcements about the Apple Watch and iPhone product lines. The almost one and a half hour, pre-recorded presentation showed, in addition to numerous locations in California, and above all the new products: Apple Watch Series 9, Apple Watch Ultra 2, iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Plus, iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max. There are some rumors proved true, others not. For example, there is no “Ultra” model of the Apple smartphone. But you can find out what was actually presented below.

Opening with Watch advertising and Apple CEO Tim Cook

It has slowly become a tradition for Apple's presentations to begin with a short film. This time too there was a video before the traditional welcome by managing director Tim Cook. Once again, the life-saving functions of the Apple Watch were highlighted, such as detecting heart disease, detecting acute heart problems, accident detection, and so on. 

This time the focus was on the topic of birthday as an emotional hook. Tim Cook then introduced the Apple September 2023 keynote, opening the Apple Watch and the iPhone as topics. It immediately became clear that no other new products would be shown. There were also advertising statements about the Mac and the Vision Pro, but we'll deliberately skip those.

Apple Watch Series 9

The Apple Watch Series 9 comes with the new S9-SiP (System in Package), which, among other things, has a new Neural Engine installed. Thanks to this, Siri requests are now processed on the device and no longer in the cloud. This means Siri requests are processed faster, even on poor cellular or Wi-Fi. The dictation function is also said to work up to 25% more correctly. 

Furthermore, health data can now be queried via Siri, as such requests are now processed securely on the device in terms of privacy. Thanks to the new ultra-wideband chip (U2 chip), e.g. B. the iPhone can be located more precisely. And communication with HomePods is improved so that playback suggestions are immediately displayed for the detected HomePod nearby.

Another highlight – in the truest sense of the word – is the display. With a maximum brightness of 2.000 nits, it is twice as bright as the Apple Watch Series 8. There is also an adjustment for use in the dark: dimming to up to 1 nit. This way you won't be blinded by your smartwatch when you wake up. 

Double tapping with the index finger and thumb was also presented as an innovative new feature, a gesture that is intended to slowly but surely introduce users to the Apple Vision Pro headset and its use. The gesture, perceived by motion sensors and blood flow measurement, can be used to answer calls, hang up, remotely shutter iPhone photos, start and pause media, scroll widgets, etc. So one-handed operation with the hand of the carrying arm.

Before we continued with the functions and new features in the Apple Watch Series 9, a comedic clip on the topic of sustainability and the “Apple 2030” goal was interspersed. In this, “Mother Nature” visited Apple to inquire about its efforts to protect the environment and climate. It was conveyed that e.g. E.g. leather products are sold slowly, Apple facilities all run on 100% “clean” electricity, 95% transportation emissions are to be saved by shifting freight to ships instead of planes, extremely large amounts of water are being saved, and so on.

Then it continued with the Apple Watch Series 9, for which a few more details regarding sustainability were given: 100% recycled aluminum, 100% recycled cobalt, 100% renewable energies at the manufacturing sites, offsetting the use of electricity through charging by the user/ inside, smaller packaging for larger shipping quantities on one load and so on. The new Apple Watch is said to be the first with a 0% net CO2 footprint. This is made clear on the packaging with a new logo.

In this context, it was noted that leather bracelets would disappear from the range. However, the collaboration with Hermès will not be abandoned. Instead, the Apple partner now supplies woven and knitted bracelets as well as one made of plastic. Nike also offers bracelets with flakes made from recycled products (e.g. shredded shoes). And that’s it for the new regular Apple Watch. It can be ordered now from €449 and will be available from Friday, September 22nd, 2023. Nothing has changed in the 41 mm and 45 mm sizes.

Apple Watch Ultra 2

Afterwards it was about the Apple Watch Ultra 2, which is not a major upgrade, but rather a spruced-up update here and there of the product that was first introduced last year. The new S9-SiP with Siri processing on the device is also used here. The U2 chip is also installed for more precise location of other devices with U1 and U2 chips.

Like the regular Watch, the display also gets a brightness update: the maximum brightness is now 3.000 nits. The new modular Ultra dial can display a wide range of values ​​with real-time changes, making it suitable for a wide range of applications. The ambient light sensor ensures that the night view (red on black) of the display automatically adjusts. 

Thanks to watchOS 10, new usage options come to the Apple Watch Ultra and Apple Watch Ultra 2, including new cycling options. These and other fitness applications can also be brought to the iPhone as a live activity. Especially when cycling, displaying data on the large display of the iPhone attached to the handlebars is better than accessing it on your wrist. In addition, the depth app for diving now has session storage so that dives can be better followed up and transferred to the iPhone.

In terms of battery life, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 lasts up to 36 hours in regular mode and up to 72 hours in low power mode. In terms of sustainability, the housing was previously 0% recycled Titan now based on 95% recycled titanium. Together with the Trail or Alpine bracelet, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 is also net CO2 neutral. It can be ordered starting today and will be available from Friday, September 22, 2023. The price here starts at €899. 

iPhone 15 Plus

Since there is no new Apple Watch SE (the 2nd generation is still the current model), we continued with the iPhone 15 and the larger Plus model. Both get the A16 Bionic chip, which was introduced with the iPhone 14 Pro (Max) last year. In addition, these standard models of the iPhone now also have the Dynamic Island. The Super Retina

With regard to the housing, which now makes room for USB-C instead of Lightning on the bottom, the rounded edges and the color-matched glass of the camera bump were highlighted. The display again has the “Ceramic Shield” for better protection against scratches and shocks. Reference was made to 75% recycled aluminum, as well as the 100% recycled content of cobalt and copper in some components.

Then it was about the camera system. The iPhone 15 (Plus) now has a main camera with 48 megapixels, which brings some new features to the standard iPhone in terms of zoom and automatic image enhancement. Using computational photography, improved 24MP images are merged with the 48MP original to combine light and color improvements with a high level of detail. There is also a 2x zoom option by using a 12MP crop. 

The next generation of portrait mode was also introduced with the new iPhones. Thanks to machine learning, this is now automatically selected when people, dogs or cats are detected. There is also subsequent focus and depth control so that focus points can be set and bokeh effects can be achieved later. Night mode has also been improved, allowing for brighter highlights and richer midtones for HDR content.

Furthermore, the better performance of the iPhone 15 (Plus), which results from the use of the A16 Bionic chip, was discussed. The image processor enables the new photo functions of the revised camera system, the Neural Engine accelerates computational photography, and so on. The iPhone 15 Plus also has a larger battery, which should keep the whole thing running on one battery charge per day.

Then it was about the connectivity of the iPhone 15 (Plus), for example the implementation of USB-C. This was received positively and the iPhone was presented as a new addition to Apple's range of USB-C devices. But the U2 chip for up to three times greater distances and better finding people in crowds, 5G, voice isolation via machine learning, “Where is?” via satellite (coming to Switzerland and Spain this month) were also named . Also new is the car service (Roadside Assistance) via satellite, which is implemented in the USA with AAA. It is still unclear whether there will be cooperation with the ADAC in Germany. 

For USB-C it was shown that video content with 4K resolution and 60 fps that AirPods or the Apple Watch can be charged via the iPhone's USB-C port, and that there will be wired EarPods with USB-C. I personally think the latter is good because I EarPods I think it's nice and you don't have to charge wired headphones.

Finally, the new “FineWoven” accessories were discussed. These finely woven cases and AirTag holders replace Apple's leather offering. The rumor that silicone will also be replaced has not been confirmed. However, it is still possible that silicone accessories will also be sold off and replaced sooner or later. Maybe with the iPhone 16 in 2024. 

iPhone 15 Pro (Max)

As already mentioned at the beginning, there is no Ultra model of the iPhone, which is why we are now at the end of the Apple September keynote 15 with the iPhone 2023 Pro and its Max model. But here too there is a lot that needs to be addressed. For example, the “Grade 5” titanium with an aluminum substructure, which is intended to ensure a more stable and lighter housing. The iPhone 15 Pro (Max) is said to be the lightest Pro model of the iPhone to date. The display offers thinner bezels and the casing has rounded edges. The display was again advertised with the “Ceramic Shield”.

Then another big rumor was confirmed: the action button. This action button replaces the silent switch above the volume buttons on the left side of the device on the iPhone 15 Pro (Max). You can also mute the device using the action button by holding it down for a longer period of time.

However, recording a voice memo, activating the camera, using an accessibility feature or triggering a shortcut can also be assigned to the button. Changing the individual settings should be easy to implement. There is haptic feedback during use and visual feedback via the Dynamic Island.

Another new feature is Apple Silicon, which is used here. Because “Bionic” was dropped from the name, so the SoC upgrade is now called “A17 Pro”. In terms of nomenclature, the nomenclature is closer to that of Mac chips. The new A17 Pro chip with 3nm architecture offers 19 billion transistors and 10% more power in the performance cores of the CPU unit. The efficiency cores deliver three times as much performance per watt. The Neural Engine is twice as powerful as its predecessor, with up to 35 trillion operations per second. 

New media processors ensure better photo and video processing as well as direct video output via USB-C. There is also a separate USB controller for the USB-C port with “USB 3” standard and 10 GB/s data transfer. Furthermore, a lot of focus was placed on the revised GPU unit. This brings a new shader architecture as well as 20% better peak performance, better energy management, mesh shading, hardware-accelerated ray tracing and MetalFX upscaling. In short: Gaming on the iPhone 15 Pro is very important, including titles like Resident Evil and Assassin's Creed as playable titles.

Now let's move on to the iPhone 15 Pro's camera. This offers 48 megapixels with a larger sensor for 4x the resolution. As with the standard model, low-light shots are merged with the 24MP original using computational photography in 48MP size to combine HDR features with great detail. The standard lens and standard zoom can also be set individually so that you don't always have to reselect the settings when you start the camera. Focus and depth control are possible later. A new Smart HDR is intended to ensure more realistic colors.

And that brings us to the camera of the iPhone 15 Pro Max. As some rumors have already highlighted, this is where the biggest hardware change is. A new prism technology is now used in a lens to transmit the light signals, which enables a fivefold optical zoom and a 120 mm focal length. Macro photography was also highlighted - overall a wide range of possible uses, which should represent the equivalent of seven lenses.

Then USB-C was discussed again. The iPhone 15 Pro (Max) offers direct output via USB-C for photos in ProRaw and videos in ProRes, so that the internal memory is not burdened and recording can be carried out directly on external storage media. Video recordings with up to 4K resolution and 60 fps can be managed externally. Log encoding also ensures the use of the “Academy Color Encoding System” for professional color management and Oscar-worthy options in post-production. The large, high-resolution content should also look great on the Apple Vision Pro.

Speaking of which: If you hold the iPhone 15 Pro (Max) horizontally, the two cameras positioned next to each other can be used for “spatial video”. The 3D videos recorded in this way can also be played back with the headset, which - according to Tim Cook - is still on schedule and should come onto the market in early 2024. Due to the large file sizes of 48MP and 24MP photos, 4K recordings at 60 fps and spatial videos in 3D, there are also new subscriptions for iCloud+, which offer 6 TB and 12 TB of cloud storage respectively.

The new iPhone models can be pre-ordered from Friday, September 15, 2023. They will be available from Friday, September 22, 2023. The Pro model with 6,1-inch display starts at €1.199 and the Pro Max model with 6,7-inch display starts at €1.449. The big price jump that many feared did not materialize. 

And that's it for the summary of this year's September keynote from Apple. Anyone who finds formal or content-related errors can be assured that this is due to the advanced time of day. I'm still happy about constructive criticism.

Apple event from September 12, 2023 in the video

Here is the YouTube video of the stream, which you can watch in a resolution of up to 4K:

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5 comments on “September Keynote 2023: Apple Watch Series 9, Apple Watch Ultra 2, iPhone 15 (Plus) and iPhone 15 Pro (Max)”

    1. Hello Horst! Unfortunately, I couldn't find any problem that could cause this. I see a comment box there. Did you receive an error message?

      1. When I first sent the comment, I received a message saying that a comment with this wording already existed and therefore could not be published. The comment has been deleted. The second time I sent a comment, nothing came up and the comment was deleted. Try “Titan …” again and get back to me.
        Greeting Horst

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