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Apple Event 2023 as it happened – iPhone 15 Pro Max, Apple Watch Ultra 2, and more

Apple Event 2023 as it happened – iPhone 15 Pro Max, Apple Watch Ultra 2, and more

The biggest Apple event of the year has come and gone, and TechRadar editors were live on the scene and following the livestream from around the globe, literally. Apple packed its iPhone 15 launch presentation tight with new products, as well as an emotional appeal in keeping with Apple’s corporate culture. 

Just as we expected, Apple has announced the iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Plus, iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max. To accompany the new phones, Apple also gave us new wearables in the Apple Watch 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2

Our US Editor-in-Chief Lance Ulanoff was on the ground in Cupertino, feeding us his thoughts and analysis from the showcase, while we delivered all the news as it happened, with colorful commentary. If you want to tackle the story bit by bit, as it unfurled, read on.

What was announced at the Apple Event 2023 “Wonderlust”

Re-watch the iPhone 15 event here

Apple streamed the Wonderlust event online from 10am PT / 1pm ET / 6pm BST on September 12. If you want to watch the stream again, check out the recorded video at the YouTube link below. 

Apple Park campus for Apple Event 2023

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Good morning, afternoon, and evening from Apple Park or wherever you are watching the Apple Event 2023 as it unfolds. I am Philip Berne, your US Mobiles editor, corresponding with Lance Ulanoff, our US Editor-in-Chief, who is on the scene live at Apple Park where he expects to see all the new Apple gear today. 

We are expecting the iPhone 15 family, of course, and quite a family it will be. The iPhone 15 Plus is expected to take a bow, and it maybe the final Plus model we see from Apple as it shakes up its lineup in the years to come. 

We are also expecting a more powerful iPhone 15 Pro, of course, as well as an even higher-level option, probably an iPhone 15 Pro Max, though the iPhone 15 Ultra name has been kicked around for quite a while. 

The iPhone won’t be the only star of the show. We’re also expecting a new Watch, maybe an update to the AirPods or their charging case, and plenty more surprises. Keep checking back, we will be updating frequently as the news happens. 

Apple Park campus for Apple Event 2023

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

The sky is cloudy but the weather is perfect at Apple Park, where our Editor-in-Chief Lance is on the ground waiting for the news to break. 

Lance says that “people are as excited about seeing each other again at this iconic campus as they are about all Apple is about to share. 

“Most agree that it won’t be a sea change for the iPhone, but I am hearing some buzz about some big innovation.”

Last time Lance heard buzz at an Apple event, we got the Apple Vision Pro headset. Lance says he can see Apple’s Marketing chief Phil Schiller in attendance in the Steve Jobs auditorium at Apple Park. 

Apple Event 2023 catering outside at Apple Park lots of berries

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Apple likes to whet our appetites for new phone by offering the most photogenic catering in the mobile business. Most people don’t get a chance to attend an Apple event, so please enjoy these delightful berries and other delectable treats that Apple serves its industry guests and media in attendance. 

Seriously, I have to beg Lance every event to take photos of the breakfast, and even though it always makes me hungry, I’m fascinated by the beautiful spread that Apple provides. 

Apple Event 2023 catering outside at Apple Park lots of berries

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Apple Event 2023 Apple Park Steve Jobs auditorium lobby

Lance in the Apple Park auditorium lobby (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

With Lance hearing buzz about some possible surprises, where might those surprises be found? We think we know a lot about the new iPhone hardware, and we’ve been treated to the iOS 17 public beta for a few weeks now, so we know a lot about the upcoming software. There’s still plenty of room for the unexpected. 

Is it possible that the new iPhones will work with Apple’s Vision Pro headset? Could we see features that synergize the iPhone camera with the AR/VR experience? These are certainly possibilities, especially since developers are bringing iPhone and iPad apps to the new spatial computing environment. 

Or course, there could be entirely new features and services that rumors have yet to uncover, and that’s the fun of the Apple event. We don’t expect One More Thing this time, not like at the Apple Vision event, but we do expect a great Apple show. 

Lance on Apple Park campus grounds

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Apple Park is truly a fascinating corporate campus. The interior of the gigantic circle is very natural, filled with local grasses and plants. Visiting Apple Park can feel like a bit of a hike at times. 

Who gets invited to Apple events? Well, technology journalists, of course, but Apple also fills the room with Apple insiders, industry partners, and myriad other analysts and friends. Tech media tends to be a bit jaded, so if you hear outrageous applause, that’s probably coming from Apple friends. 

Once the presentation is over, we’re expecting some hands-on time with all of the new devices, including the new iPhones and whatever else Apple shows off. Hopefully Lance brought his hiking boots, there’s going to be a lot of ground to cover!

Apple Park campus for Apple Event 2023

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

It’s starting! Are you ready?! You can almost taste the excitement, can’t you? Here’s one final Apple treat before we begin. 

The presentation has begun with what looks like a commercial for the mobile family, with a cover of the song “It’s a beautiful day” playing in the background. It’s an emotional scene, leading to Apple Watch users who were notified of serious health emergencies thanks to the watch features. 

Tim Cook on stage at Apple Event 2023

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

The live presentation is a bit different from what we see streaming at home. At Apple Park, Tim Cook has come on stage to greet the attendees and begin the show. We at home are still waiting for his presentation to start. 

Tim Cook on stage at Apple Event 2023

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Tim Cook has appeared to tell us that Apple will be announcing two essential products today, the Apple Watch and the new iPhone. Before Cook begins, he is giving a brief update on the Mac computers. 

Cook reminds us that the Mac Studio and Mac Pro completed the transition from Intel to Apple’s-own silicon. Our friends at Toms Guide get a nice shout-out for the new Macbook Air 15-inch that we also loved. 

Cook also touches on Apple Vision Pro and says that development is ongoing, with app developers already showing off upcoming apps to Apple’s internal groups. He hopes to ship the new Vision Pro gear early next year. 

Now let’s move on to Apple Watch and iPhone. Apple Watch helps us stay healthy. The iPhone impacts everything we do. Cook says “if you left either one at home, I’d bet you go back and get it.”

The Apple Watch 9 announcement gets first billing at the Apple Event 2023 show and Apple COO Jeff Williams is on screen showing off the new Apple Watch Series 9. 

Apple Watch Series 9 on screen at Apple Event 2023

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Are those new gesture features coming to Apple Watch? Apple Product Marketing folks are talking about the benefits of using Apple’s own chipset inside with a new Apple S9 chip for wearables. 

It seems like the Watch is getting some serious processing and graphical upgrades, but Apple also promises battery improvements as well as new features. Sadly, Apple is talking up Siri first before getting to any really cool stuff. Clearly, AI and machine intelligence is front of mind. 

Apple Watch showing iPhone finder on screen

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Before giving us any significant new features, Apple promises improvements for the most-beloved Apple Watch feature: finding your iPhone. Apple says that the UWB radio that allows the Apple Watch to find the iPhone and vice versa has been improved, so it will be easier and faster to find your lost phone. Really, that’s the feature you’ll probably use more than anything else announced today.

The Apple Watch 9

(Image credit: Apple)

Yes, Apple is adding a new gesture to its Apple Watch. The new “double-tap” feature works when you tap your thumb and index finger together. The Watch will recognize the motion in hand. You can scroll through widgets or select items on screen using your fingers, without needing to touch the screen. 

Apple says this is enabled not only by the accelerometer, it also relies on the Apple Watch ability to measure things like blood flow beneath the skin. Kind of creepy, but it looks like a cool new feature that we’ll use frequently. Navigating the tiny screen is a bit of a pain, so these gestures could make the Apple Watch much more friendly. 

Mother Nature at an Apple meeting

Octavia Spencer as Mother Nature in Apple’s promo (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Ok, now Apple got jokes. Apple is playing a skit where “Mother Nature” visits an Apple meeting with Tim Cook and complains that Apple needs to accelerate to meet its carbon neutral goals. 

Apple is removing all plastic, more recycled, blah blah blah. Okay, it’s very interesting, but it’s not new fun toys, so we’ll let you watch for yourself before we report all of Apple’s environmental claims. They care, that’s what they’re saying. 

A woman standing in front of solar panels

(Image credit: Apple)

We got some really exciting new gesture features and promises of performance enhancements from Apple with the Apple Watch, but now the company is taking a picnic break to visit pretty vistas and other natural scenes in an effort to show off its environmental commitment. 

This seems to be a major sidetrack from Apple’s product annoucement, but maybe there isn’t much more to say about Apple Watch? It’s 0.0X% more screen and less bezel, and X% faster than last year, but that’s hard to show in a promo video. You know what isn’t hard to show? Recycled cobalt. That looks very industrial, like it needs to be dealt with properly. Apple is dealing with it. 

Can we haz moar Apple Watch stuff now? Apple Watch Ultra 2, sometime soon?

Apple watch bands close-up

(Image credit: Apple)

I’d love to give Apple credit for all of these amazing accomplishments, but I’m not really an environmental expert, and it’s very easy to make statistics sound impressive when your listeners have no context. I’d love to think that billions of gallons of water is a massive reduction, but are we wasting trillions of gallons? Is billions actually a lot? I’m just not sure. 

As part of this initiative, Apple is no longer selling any products made with real leather. It has created a new band material called “fine woven” Apple Watch band. It has also worked with partners for new woven and rubber concepts that don’t use leather. Nike will offer new recycled bands for the Apple Watch Series 9 as well. 

Apple Watch 9 summary screen from Apple Event 2023 showing specs and features

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

So, to wrap up the Apple Watch Series 9 before Apple brings out the Apple Watch Ultra 2, you get a brighter screen, a more powerful processor (which could also improve battery life), and improvements for Siri and other software enhancements. 

There are also cool new gestures that let you hang up a call or navigate the widgets by pinching your fingers, instead of tapping on the tiny display. 

Apple watch Ultra 2

(Image credit: Apple)

The Apple Watch Ultra 2 is here. So far, Apple has only been talking about improvements to the display, and new watch faces that take advantage of all of that real estate. Apple says the new face will offer more information at once than any previous watch face. It’s still just a watch face, but the use cases are Ultra extreme, as you’d expect from an Apple Watch Ultra sequel. 

The environmental kicks hits the Ultra 2 as well, and the titanium in the case is 95% recycled, compared to the completely virgin material used in the original Apple Watch Ultra. 

Apple says the Ultra 2 will get 36 hours of battery life while active, or 72 hours in a more conservative power saving mode. 

No significant new features for the Apple Watch family, but it’s not like a lot of new wearable tech has been invented in the last year. Had enough Watch? Good, let’s move on to the iPhone 15. 

Apple iPhone 15 camera lens up close

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Tim Cook announces the iPhone and the first color is a rose hue like we haven’t seen on the iPhone in quite some time. In fact, it looks like a much more colorful launch lineup is coming to the iPhone 15 than we may have expected, with yellow, green, and other cool color options. 

The first look focuses on the new camera lenses, so let’s see what Apple has to brag about. 

Apple iPhone 15

(Image credit: Apple)

Every new iPhone 15 will have a Dynamic Island feature, not just the Pro and Pro Max models. Apple confirmed all of the Island features will be available to every new iPhone, as it should have been from the start. Hopefully we’ll get some exciting development on the software side as well. 

The new phone is a bit more curved and Apple says it should be more comfortable to hold. Apple is now going into extensive detail about how it creates the glass color for the new pink, yellow, green, blue and black models. 

Apple iPhone 15

(Image credit: Apple)

While Apple drones on a bit about environmentalism, let’s look at that new display on the iPhone 15. It’s going to be very bright, up to 2,000 nits peak brightness, which is double what the previous iPhone 14 could manage. That should be great taking photos outside with the new cameras. 

Apple iPhone 15

(Image credit: Apple)

There will be a 48MP sensor on the iPhone 15’s main camera, a huge upgrade from the past. Those images will be pixel binned into a 24MP final shot, which is even larger than the binned images from previous iPhone generations. Those should be some huge files. Hopefully there will be a very fast USB-C connection if you want to sent a bunch to your computer. 

Apple is using the larger sensor as an ersatz telephoto lens. This is more like a digital zoom, and the final images will be only 12MP, not the full 24MP of main camera shots. This is a bit disappointing, but we didn’t expect a long telephoto zoom lens on the base model iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus. 

iphone 15

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple is focusing on improving portraits in the iPhone 15 camera, literally and figuratively. It will offer more control over the blurriness of portraits, and it says that the new camera should be able to automatically switch to Portrait mode and take a photo fast. 

The new iPhone 15 will also use the infrared True Depth camera, used for face unlock, to help with selfie portraits. 

The iPhone 15 will get the A16 Bionic chip first seen last year on the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. That makes the iPhone 15 Pro a shoe-in for a new A17 Bionic chip. 

Apple iPhone 15

(Image credit: Apple)

Oooh, it’s time to talk Connectivity! This wouldn’t normally be the most intriguing part of the iPhone launch, but this is expected to be the first year Apple uses USB-C on the iPhone. It’s time to finally drop that Lightning port!

Of course, Apple is talking up all of the various wireless technologies first, including the ultra-wideband (UWB) radio for finding your friends or other devices like AirPods or AirTags. 

Apple says the iPhone 15 can use machine learning to improve call quality. That’s an interesting feature, because Google is now offering similar on its Google Pixel phones, as part of the Pixel-exclusive featured enabled by the Tensor chipset that also specializes in machine learning features. 

Okay, now we’re talking about satellites. Apple really, REALLY doesn’t want to talk about USB-C. It will talk to space before it talks about giving up Lightning. 

Apple iPhone 15

(Image credit: Apple)

Cool, cool, Apple, if my car breaks down in the desert I can get roadside assistance via satellite. Can I also charge my iPhone with the same charger I used with the Galaxy I’m trading in to buy it? 

Here we go. “USB-C has become a universally accepted standard, so we’re bringing USB-C to iPhone 15” [ed: only a decade late].

The iPhone 15 will get USB-C, and so will AirPods. Apple isn’t offering up any of the contentious details we have been brooding over, like whether the cables will be locked to some proprietary microcontroller. The original Lightning cables were quite locked-down, at least at first. 

iPhone 15

(Image credit: Apple)

That seems to be all the big news for the iPhone 15. It gets great new color options, maybe the best launch color lineup I’ve seen for the iPhone ever. It reminds me a bit of the original iMac days. In the past few years we’d be excited to get white, black, and maybe one of these color options. I can’t wait to see that Pink color in person. 

Apple iPhone 15 Pro titanium close up

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Now it’s time for the iPhone 15 Pro “the most pro iPhone we’ve ever created,” according to Tim Cook. This is the phone that every other phone is going to try to beat for the next year, at least. 

The design is titanium, and it looks … expensive. Like, this phone is definitely going to cost a lot more than previous Pro models. The edge looks smooth, the borders are “the thinnest borders ever on an iPhone,” and the look is very premium, even compared to previous iPhone models. 

Wow, this thing is gonna be pricey. 

Apple iPhone 15

(Image credit: Apple)

Now Apple is going on and on about how expensive the titanium is going to be. They’re not saying it out loud, but that’s the subtext I’m getting. This is the same material used on the Mars rover. That’s an expensive thing. It’s stronger than normal Titanium. That must be expensive. 

It’s engineered “with nanometer precision,” which sounds outrageously expensive. There is white titanium, black titanium, blue titanium, and natural titanium color finish options for the Pro models. I’m guess one of them is more expensive than the others. 

Apple iPhone 15

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple is getting rid of the mute switch, as expected. Here comes the Action Button. By default, it’s still a mute switch. You hold it down and it gives you a haptic response to tell you that the phone is in silent mode. 

You can press to start voice memos. You can launch the camera. Hey, Apple finally adopted Android’s best camera feature, the ability to launch the camera with a button, instead of dealing with the touchscreen! I’m happy that Android fans will get something meaty to complain about today. 

There are tons of features coming to the Action Button, and we’ll be sure to explore them all. Apple is also talking about the Standby features that are coming to all iPhones that can run iOS 17. 

Apple iPhone 15

(Image credit: Apple)

Running the iPhone 15 Pro will be the A17 Bionic chip, and Apple is talking it up now. Apple is manufacturing the chip using the industry’s first 3nm process, which means that the chip should be much more power efficient, with more transistors packed into the same small space. It’s impressive, but Apple’s Bionic chipsets are already far ahead of anything you’ll find in an Android phone. 

Apple users get a lot more professional apps and features with an iPhone. You can shoot video in Pro Res format, which creates massive, high resolution files. 

Thankfully, the iPhone 15 Pro will get faster USB 3 transfer speeds, though Apple isn’t going so far as to call it a Thunderbolt port. That means it likely won’t be able to drive external displays as well as a laptop or iPad Pro model with a Thunderbolt 3 or better option. 

Games playing on iPhone 15 Pro with A17 Bionic chip

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

While talking up the undoubtedly impressive performance of the A17 Bionic chipset, Apple is dwelling on the phone’s gaming potential. Obviously, the iPhone is Apple’s biggest gaming platform, as Mac computers have a lot of catching up to do in the gaming world. 

While talking up A17 potential, Apple casually mentions that the A17 will work nicely with AR games. We know that the Apple Vision Pro will use iPad apps immediately at launch. It will be interesting to see how developers are able to port games to the upcoming spatial platform. 

Apple iPhone 15 camera specs from Apple Event 2023

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Camera time, excellent, camera time, excellent. 

Multiple lenses, of course, and the best camera system yet, of course, but what are they? “The equivalent of seven camera lenses in their pocket.” Uhh, that sounds like a lot of digital zoom hokum is coming our way. 

There is a “more advanced” 48MP camera with a larger sensor than the iPhone 14 Pro. In addition to 48MP RAW shooting, you can shoot in a more efficient HEIF format, so file sizes could be more manageable. 

It looks like there is only a 3X zoom in the main camera, and the iPhone will use digital trickery to zoom farther. We’ll see what they have to say. 

Apple iPhone 15 camera module internal look

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

There will be a 5X optical zoom on the new iPhone 15 Pro Max, but not the new iPhone 15 Pro. This is the first time Apple has set the new iPhone Pro Max model apart in more than just screen and battery size. In the past, the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max has exactly the same camera setup. This year, only the iPhone 15 Pro Max will get Apple’s best telephoto zoom option. 

Apple is also talking about 3D optical image stabilization (OIS), a first on smartphone design, but this could also be a feature in the Pro Max model, not the Pro. Apple says that the larger size of the iPhone 15 Pro Max enables the longer zoom, but it is unclear yet what other differences the larger size embodies. 

Apple Event 2023 iPhone camera

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Whatever the overall capabilities of the iPhone 15 Pro USB-C port, Apple is saying it will be able to write directly to an external drive, which will be great for people using Pro Res and other high resolution video formats. You can fill up one drive and then just swap it for another, keeping the iPhone as the main camera throughout. 

Apple is also showing off how Apple iPhone 15 Pro will work with Apple Vision Pro. The ultrawide and main camera work together to create spatial videos. You can record a video using your iPhone, then watch a 3D version of the video later using the upcoming Apple spatial computing headset. 

It’s unclear if spatial video features will work with any of the myriad other VR headset options. There’s no reason it shouldn’t, but … Apple. 

Apple iPhone 15

(Image credit: Apple)

Finally we get pricing on the new iPhone 15 Pro models, and a view of pricing across the entire iPhone 15 family. The iPhone 15 Pro won’t get a major price bump over last year’s iPhone 14 Pro model, but it seems like Apple is kicking the Pro Max model into the stratosphere. Those new zoom cameras are expensive, don’tcha know. 

The iPhone 15 will start at $799, and the iPhone 15 Pro will start at $999. Apple is keeping the iPhone 13 and iPhone 14 on the market for $599 and $699 respectively, as well as the bargain-priced iPhone SE for $429. 

You can start pre-orders on Friday, September 15. The phones will be in stores and maybe in your hands by September 22. 

Apple Event 2023 iPhone lineup pricing from iPhone SE to iPhone 15 Pro

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

That’s a wrap, folks! We’ve seen everything Apple is going to announce, and our Editor-in-Chief Lance Ulanoff is heading to the hands-on area at Apple Park for a fresh look at Apple new gear. 

Are the colors as bold as they appear? Is the curve dramatic or comfortable? Will that titanium survive a sharp throw to the floor? There is only one way to find out. 

We’ll have more updates as we dig into Apple’s press releases and announcements further, as well as plenty of photos and hands-on impressions. Keep checking back. 

Apple iPhone 15 Pro USB-C port

(Image credit: Future / Lance UIanoff)

Now that Apple’s news is official and live on its own web site, we get some more details about the USB-C connector on the iPhone 15 Pro. Apple says that the iPhone 15 Pro can transfer at speeds up to 10GB. That’s the optimistic maximum for USB-C 3.2, though Thunderbolt ports can theoretically climb much higher. 

Every iPhone 15 model can charge other devices using the USB-C port. If your new AirPods, which have a USB-C charging port, run out of battery, you can plug them directly into an iPhone 15 to charge. 

Only the Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max models will get the fastest speeds and workflow for shooting Pro Res video. Apple says you can store Pro Res directly to an external drive, but doesn’t say if this capability will be made available to other features or formats. We’ll have fun testing to find out. 

The iPhone 15 from the front and back

(Image credit: Apple)

We are still live on the ground at Apple Park, checking out the new iPhone 15, the iPhone 15 Plus, and the iPhone 15 Pro models. This is the most divisive iPhone lineup we’ve seen in years, and maybe ever, with more differences between each model than even we expected. 

We’re also checking out the new Apple Watch 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2, both of which have gotten performance upgrades that could equal better battery life for Apple’s wearables. More battery is always our biggest request, so we’re excited to get these watches in for testing. 

Our editors are playing with cameras, trying on watches, and answering all of your questions as the Apple excitement continues. 

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