Apple on Tuesday took the wraps off newer variants of some of its best-selling devices against the backdrop of flagging discretionary spending and expanded curbs on its flagship iPhone in China.
The world's most valuable listed company will make available the new products from Sept. 22, hoping that they make it to the top of customers' wish lists during the all-important holiday shopping season.
Here are the details of the key announcements: The iPhone Apple launched the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus, sporting 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch displays, respectively, similar to their predecessors.
The higher-end iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max models, priced at $999 and $1,199, respectively, will sport an "action button" in place of the mute switch that can be customized for a variety of functions.
They will use titanium instead of stainless steel for the sidebars. Apple has also switched to the USB-C charging standard from the current Lightning port, in accordance with a European law, on the new iPhones and AirPods Pro. The USB-C connectivity will make it easier for professionals to transfer high-quality video from the iPhone directly onto their hard drives.
All the new models feature a 48-megapixel main camera, with the flagship Pro Max having 5X optical zoom and 3X telephoto capability. With the Pro devices, users can record "spatial" or three-dimensional videos that could be viewed on Apple's upcoming Vision Pro headset.
The latest iPhone's satellite connectivity can now be used to summon roadside assistance, a feature launched in the U.S. in partnership with American Automobile Association.
The iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus get A16 bionic chip, while the iPhone 15 Pro and the Pro Max will be powered by the A17 pro chip. The hardware on the Pro line makes the devices suitable for high-end mobile gaming, the company said. Apple also said the batteries of iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus, which start at $799 and $899, respectively, are made of 100% recycled cobalt.
Apple announced Watch Series 9 and the second generation of Watch Ultra, sporting the same dimensions as the previous variants. The latest watches get the next generation S9 chip, capable of better animation and effects.
It is the first processor upgrade since Apple released the Series 6 line in 2020. New features include "double tap", a new gesture feature to control the watch without touching its face, and improved dictation and brightness. Ultra 2 gets a new customized watch face that packs more information on workouts, and improved battery that lasts up to 36 hours on normal use and 72 hours on low-power setting.
The Series 9 starts at $399, while the Ultra 2, at $799, is priced at the same level as the earlier base model. The Series 9 is the company's first carbon neutral product, and starting this year all watch manufacturing will be powered by 100% clean energy. Apple will also drop leather from all its products, including the watch bands.
AirPods Apple released the second-generation AirPods Pro, priced at $249, which will feature improved sound quality and double the active noise cancellation than its predecessor. It will also come in more ear tip sizes.
Apple that three of its Apple Watch models will come in what it calls carbon-neutral versions sporting a new green logo on their boxes, thanks to a move to renewable energy in factories and transporting watches with fewer plane trips.
Apple aims to be carbon neutral by 2030, including its supply chain. The biggest single reduction in the emissions from the new watches came from using clean electricity to manufacture them.
Apple on Tuesday said that 300 of its suppliers have now committed to using clean energy in the manufacturing process, the main source of emissions in making Apple Watches. But another emissions source was Apple's speedy transportation network, which relies heavily on planes.
Apple was a pioneer in using planes to haul consumer electronics from factories in China to destinations around the world, helping reduce the inventory it needs to hold and boosting its profits.
For the three new watches, half of shipments by weight, from factory to destinations such as regional distribution hubs, will happen over boats, trains or other non-air methods that burn less fuel and create fewer carbon emissions that warm the planet, Apple executives said in an interview at Apple's Cupertino, California, headquarters. Shipments by boat have 1/20th the emissions of those by air, executives said at a product launch event on Tuesday.
The three green-tagged versions of the Apple Watch Series 9, Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Ultra 2 will have lower emissions than Apple's baseline estimations based on previous products, and Apple will buy carbon offsets for remaining emissions, said Lisa Jackson, the head of the company's environmental and governance efforts.
"We could in theory do that (buy offsets) tomorrow, and everything would be carbon neutral, but we wanted to be really clear that we're taking action on everything we know how to do to reduce (emissions) with existing technology," Jackson said. The company has said previously that a Series 8 watch created 33 kg (73 lb) of carbon emissions, from raw materials to delivery to end customers.
The new climate-friendlier aluminum Series 9 with a sport loop band will have 8.1 kg (18 lb) of emissions remaining after Apple's changes, and the company will cover that remainder by buying carbon credits.
That compares with 29 kg (64 lb) of emissions for the standard stainless steel version of the Series 9 with the same band. Apple has been focused on cutting carbon emissions for some time. All new watches, including standard editions, also use custom alloys of aluminum and titanium that are made from recycled materials and batteries that contain only recycled cobalt, a mineral whose mining poses both climate and human rights concerns. "We're absolutely planning to roll that out across" more of Apple's products in the future, John Ternus, the firm's hardware engineering chief, told Reuters. "As we push forward and we engage with suppliers on these recycled material supply chains, we find that we're usually the first ones talking to them about it." The green-tagged watches will cost the same as the standard versions.