Apple announces iPhone 7, Watch 2 at press event, Mario coming to iPhones

After weeks of speculation, Apple finally unveiled the iPhone 7 officially at today’s Event in its traditional trademark style. The announcement comes on the heels of the event invite that it sent out to limited attendees and confirms several rumors about the device that were floating out there about the event.

Apple announced two variants of the iPhone, the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus. Both phones are powered by Apple’s new quad-core A10 Fusion chip. The phones feature a redesigned home button with a new taptic engine that can be programmed by third party apps. The phones are water and dust resistant with an IP67 water resistance rating.

Perhaps the biggest improvement was in the phone’s rear camera. While both phones feature a 12 MP sensor with a f/1.8 aperture and a six-element lens, the iPhone plus features, as rumored, a dual camera setup with one wide-angled 28mm lens and a second 56mm lens that allows for 2x Optical Zoom and up to 10X Digital Zoom that is markedly better than the traditional software zoom. The dual camera setup also means users will be able to take photos with a shallow depth of field or blurred background with the subject in focus although that feature will be available later in October through an update. Both phone cameras feature true tone flash with 50% more light, allow images to be captured as raw .dng files. Apple claims the new sensors are 60% faster and 30% more energy efficient.

Apple finally ditched the 3.5mm headphone jack by employing the lightning connector as the default audio port. Phil Schiller explained that the decision was largely motivated by factors like the port’s agedness and purpose as being a dedicated port that served a single purpose and occupied unnecessary space on the phone which made sense, given that every mm counts on a smartphone. Apple also announced its new Air-pods for Wire-less music transfer. The devices allow for up to 5 hours of music playback on a single charge and have in built microphone and infrared sensors to transmit music and detect proximity to ears respectively and will work with all Apple devices. To avoid possible backlash over this move, Apple is bundling a lightning adapter with the phones right out of the box along with the Air-pods. This should allow existing 3.5mm earphones to work seamlessly.

The Apple iPhone 7 with a 4.7 inch screen will cost users $649 whereas the iPhone 7S with its 5.5 inch screen can be availed for $749. Both phones will be available for pre-order in Silver, Gold, New Jet Black, Black and Rose Gold shades starting September 9 while going on sale on September 16. As anticipated, Apple will upgrade the storage capacities to 32 GB, 128 GB and 256 GB; even the older iPhone 6S and 6S Plus will be sold in 32 GB and 128 GB variants (the new Jet Black shade will be available only in 128 GB and 256 GB variants). They will be first rolled out in 26 countries before being available in several others a week later. Users can also choose to upgrade via the Upgrade Program. The Air-pods will also be sold separately as accessories for $159.

In other news, Apple also announced a new Watch. Called Watch Series 2, it will run watchOS3 out of the box. It’s splash-proof as against the first Apple Watch (now rebranded as Apple Watch Series 1) which was Swim-Proof. It is also water resistant up to 50m. Phil Schiller explained that they re-touched the architecture so that the in-built speakers now eject water from the watch. It is powered by the new Dual-Core SIP 2 and has built-in GPS. A custom version in association with Nike was also announced by Nike President Trevor Edwards. Both watches will be priced at $369. In an unexpected move, Apple announced that it will add the SIP2 chip to upcoming Series 1 Watches which will retail for $269 though one remains hard-pressed to see how this will differentiate the two watches.

On the software front, Apple CEO Tim Cook started the conference by announcing the arrival of Mario on iPhones. Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto himself walked in on stage to introduce a demo of the new side-scrolling platformer that was designed to be played with the thumb by itself. Quite surprisingly, almost everything about the iPhone and the conference was out there courtesy leaks and speculation with barely any new and unexpected information surfacing.