Apple's big reveal - the iPhone 13 - seems lucky for most
At its big September event Tuesday, Apple showed us how powerful chips boosted by software and hardware integration and bespoke machine intelligence can deliver real value to every user.
What Apple introduced
The company seemingly confirmed all the pre-event rumors, introducing iPhones with all-day battery life, accompanied by an unexpected star in the form of an A15-powered iPad mini powerful enough to use for any mobile productivity task.
The company told us iOS 15 will be available on Monday, Sept. 20. The company also introduced a new Apple Watch and a much-improved entry-level iPad.
What Apple said
About the iPhone, Apple said:
"Our customers rely on iPhone every day, which is why we've made iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini more powerful, more capable, and more fun to use," said Greg Joswiak, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing.
"Both phones have beautiful designs, industry-leading performance, and advanced camera systems with impressive computational photography features, all with incredible durability, water resistance, and a big jump in battery life to ensure customers can depend on their iPhone when they need it. All of this, tightly integrated with iOS 15 and with privacy built in, make iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini an unbeatable choice."
About the iPad mini, Apple said:
"With its ultra-portable design and wide range of uses from everyday tasks to creative and enterprise applications, there's nothing else like iPad mini," said Joswiak. "With a new all-screen Liquid Retina display, massive boost in performance, new advanced cameras on the front and back, Center Stage, USB-C, 5G, and support for Apple Pencil, the new iPad mini is a huge leap forward that can be held in the palm of your hand."
It's all about the processor
Apple's A15 Bionic processor underpins the two main announcements most likely to interest enterprise users. The chip means Apple now sells the fastest smartphone that's ever existed, and also means the iPad mini has more than enough oomph (and a 5G connection) to make it a shoe-in for almost any mobile enterprise. Want to check the manual when fixing a solar grid? This lightweight device has what you need.
"The new iPad mini is a major upgrade and arguably more akin to Apple's iPad Pro category given its design, support for the A15 Bionic chip and a USB-C connector," CCS analyst Ben Wood said directly after the event. "The iPad mini represents a significant opportunity for the iPad brand to extend deeper into the numerous industry sectors that Apple is already supporting, such as aviation, healthcare and retail."
Recently leaked benchmarks had suggested the new chip would give iPhone 13 the power it needs to achieve 10-20% better performance than the iPhone 12 chip.
It turns out this was indeed the case, with Apple pumping up the chip with more cores.
You get nearly 15 billion transistors, a new six-core CPU with two high-performance cores and four high-efficiency cores. That makes the chip "up to 50% faster than the competition, the fastest in any smartphone, and handles demanding tasks smoothly and efficiently, while the new 4-core GPU is up to 30 percent faster than the competition and enables more lifelike visuals and lighting effects in graphics-intensive games," the company said.
The new 16-core Neural Engine is capable of 15.8 trillion operations per second. That means faster machine learning, fast apps, and a plethora of machine vision enhancements, which empower the device with a camera that's almost equal to high-end video capture devices.
This bodes really, really, well for the future of the Mac and the iPad Pro as well. The road to M-series chips with multiple cores can only end in the Mac Pro. Most enterprise users might want to think about that.
But processors must do something to be useful
As Brian Roemmele observed after the event, in 1969 the entire world's computing power was 66,700 operations per second.
The iPhone 13 (and, I guess, the iPad mini, which shares the chip), gives us 15.8 trillion operations per second in devices you can fit in your pocket. My calculator app tells me that means the Apple device you put in your pocket now provides 236 million times the planet's total computing in 1969.
But power is nothing, if you don't know what to do with it.
Apple likes to use of the power it creates, which is what it has done with iPhone 13; it makes use of that processing power to deliver all-day battery life and to provide video and photography abilities that compete with professional equipment.
This is the kind of processing power your enterprises' internal and consumer-facing apps can now exploit, and it's available on both the iPhone 13 (which, despite some focus on triskaidekaphobia prior to the event is a lucky number in some parts of the world) and the iPad mini.
It is important to consider that much of what Apple told us during its launch event suggests almost every feature on all of its devices are increasingly being augmented by machine intelligence, thanks to its home-brewed, powerful chips.
It delivers all-day battery life by intelligently controlling when power should peak and when it is unnecessary. And, of course, another useful thing Apple chips deliver is CenterStage, which makes for better video meetings - increasingly important in a hybrid office world.
OK, but what about the display?
Apple introduced the display everyone expected. The iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max introduce Super Retina XDR with ProMotion display, which supports an adaptive refresh rate from 10Hz to 120Hz. That means fast frame rates when required, better battery life when screen speed is not needed.
Offered in both 6.1-in. and 6.7-in. sizes, the new display leverages a more efficient OLED panel. Apple calls it the brightest display ever on an iPhone with up to 25% higher max outdoor brightness, at 1000 nits. In use, of course, this means better resolution, color, and contrast whatever you do with your device.
Pro Motion on the iPhone is dynamic, and adjusts from 10Hz to 120Hz depending on the content it displays. That means you get fantastic visual performance when you need it but aren't battering your battery life when you don't.
The Super Retina XDR OLED displays on the iPhone 13 and 13 mini provide a 28% increase in max outdoor brightness at 800 nits, with higher peak brightness for HDR content like photos and videos at 1200 nits, all while being more power efficient.
The cold truth is that while company critics will always claim Apple should have got these screens out years ago, doing so is, was, and will always be a supply chain issue.
Apple sells a lot of phones and needed a supplier (in this case, Samsung, I think) capable of manufacturing those displays in sufficient quantity and at consistent quality for the tens of millions it intends to sell.
The carriers want to get you hooked on 5G
A final take away.
Prior to the introduction, we know many existing users were trading in their existing iPhones to make a little money toward the new devices.
What makes this more interesting is that while pre-release interest among Android users had declined in contrast to the last model, 18% of them were considering an upgrade to iPhone, while 44% of existing iPhone users were also thinking about the new device. Meanwhile, recent Counterpoint data tells us Apple still holds over 50% of the world's premium smartphone market, followed by Samsung and Huawei (with both in decline). Apple leads the category in every region.
There has been a great deal of speculation that one thing that has driven iPhone 12's success is that Apple has been able to achieve some sweet carrier deals as networks battle to promote 5G. Apple's decision to pimp out the iPad mini with 5G and extend support for the standard across additional nations and regions sits well with this.
Now, it seems the company hopes to ride this wave - which should have a big impact on enterprise purchasing, assuming carrier deals extend to fleet upgrades and purchasing.
The signs are good. Post-announcement, AT&T announced that it intends to give both new and existing AT&T customers the opportunity to get a new iPhone for free.
"They can take advantage of the following iPhone 13 deals with an eligible trade-in, on an unlimited plan and purchased on an instalment plan," a media advisory shared with me states.
These deals mean you can get an iPhone 13 Pro or mini for no up-front cost, or an iPhone 13 Pro Max or iPhone 13 for $99 up front. Cricket Wireless will offer the iPhone 13 range from starting Sept. 24, the company said.
In the event carriers elsewhere in the UK and globally choose to deliver similarly tempting deals, then most business users have a real opportunity to upgrade.
"Although new camera features, better battery life and other tech specs will grab the headlines, the biggest story is arguably the impressive trade-in prices being offered by Apple and its partners. US buyers trading-in the previous iPhone can get up to $1,000 toward a new model and we expect similar deals in other markets around the world," said CCS analyst, Ben Wood.
"It's a major competitive advantage for Apple, and is likely to boost the residual value of iPhones, which are already the highest in the market thanks to Apple's ruthless product consistency and multiyear software updates."
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