The October Apple Event

October 14, 2020

Another year, another iPhone announcement from Apple. Time marches on and the product continuously and incrementally improves. Yesterday Apple announced this year’s new iPhone lineup in a nicely choreographed video presentation, much like the one last month, and WWDC this June.

A few quick thoughts on the iPhone announcement for this year:

  • I really like the introduction of the iPhone 12 Mini. I wish there was a “Pro” mini that could contain the latest and greatest camera and technology but maintain the smaller form factor. There’s probably not enough room in that small case to fit everything in the Pro line, but a boy can dream.
  • 5G seems like a nice upgrade in ideal conditions. Who knows whether reality will match up to this pitch. I’m lucky enough to be in a large city with good coverage so I’m optimistic. But I bet many new phone buyers won’t even notice a difference — which makes it a strange point to focus on so much during the presentation.
  • Speaking of focusing on 5G: why was Verizon involved in this presentation at all? Apple gave major stage time to a single US carrier and made it seem like these features are only available on Verizon (they’re not) and that Verizon is the only Apple-approved vendor that matters (they’re not). The whole thing was weird. How much money did Apple receive from Verizon to co-opt its event? I’m not sure it was worth it. (Nothing against Verizon here, but it just seemed out of place.)
  • I welcome the return of flat sides on the phones. The past few years’ phones have been so slippery and smooth I’m hoping this is a return to some sort of grip-ability without needing to install a case from day one. We shall see.
  • The MagSafe charging and accessories look pretty cool. I like the effort put into this, and it seems like a clear improvement over the basic charging pads that work today. It’s no fun when you wake up in the morning to find your phone uncharged because it was a centimeter off center on the charging pad.
  • Like the Apple Watch of last month, Apple is not including the charger or headphones in the box with new iPhones. They claim this is for environmental purposes, which is valid. But if it’s for environmental purposes, then why not knock $30 off the price? It seems very disingenuous to claim an environmental benefit when it appears to be a profit margin incentive.
  • The Pro Max bigger phone has a nicer camera sensor and a few other camera features not present in the normal-human-hand-sized Pro. This is disappointing. I really dislike the giant phone, but one of the primary reasons to upgrade is to get the latest camera tech. I’m torn here, but probably will need to stick with something reasonably-sized.

Preorders are spread out throughout the next month starting this Friday. At this point I’m leaning towards the 12 Pro in the new blue colored finish. Looks pretty sharp to me.

Presentation-wise, I think that Apple is doing a fantastic job here. The video production teams at Apple are so great and sometimes it seems like they are just flexing while the rest of industry is playing catch-up. It’s hard to tell what’s real and what’s great CG work by the production teams. And I say that in a good way.

Also announced yesterday was a new HomePod: The HomePod mini. This is a smaller version of the HomePod from a few years ago with some nice new features like an in-home intercom system, proximity sensors devices, and Siri enhancements. It’s $99 for the HomePod mini, which is much more competitive than the original model. This is the device Apple should have launched years ago to compete with the Alexa and Google Home products.

Overall I thought this event was a solid move in forward direction. Nothing terribly different or astounding, but great incremental progress around the board.