Apple’s new iPhones get faster chips, better cameras and new charging ports

 Apple introduced the Apple Watch Series 9, along with a new Apple Watch Ultra 2. On the surface, neither looks especially different from the models they replace. The overall design and feel are almost exactly the same as last year's.

They do have a better processor, and both have brighter screens. Whether you need a notably faster processor in Watch is up for debate, but faster is better than not faster, I guess. Also, the Ultra 2 has a 3000-nit display, which Apple says is the brightest it has ever made. If you spend a lot of time outdoors in California, that's probably handy. 

Ultimately, however, those all feel like minor improvements. The Series 9 looks exactly like the Series 8. The Ultra 2 looks exactly like the original Apple introduced last year. Apple did make a big deal of the fact that the new Apple Watches are the company's first carbon-neutral products, but if you're in the market for a new Apple Watch, neither of these is going to seem dramatically different than the one that came before it. Well, except for one surprising thing. 

If you buy a Series 9, this update will likely change the way you use your Apple Watch forever. That's because Apple added a simple feature that makes a big difference in how you interact with your Watch.

Apple calls it Double Tap, because, of course, every feature has to have a marketing name. That's fine. In this case, it's a good name because it exactly describes the feature. Basically, you tap your index finger together with your thumb two times, and you can control your Apple Watch.

"Double Tap controls the primary button in an app so it can be used to stop a timer, play and pause music, or snooze an alarm," Apple says. "The gesture can be used to answer and end a phone call, and even to take a photo with the Camera Remote on Apple Watch. Double Tap will also open the Smart Stack from the watch face, and another Double Tap will scroll through widgets in the stack."

Jason Aten

I had a chance to try it briefly during the hands-on demo, and it's as intuitive as you might expect. When I got a call on the watch, I simply double-tapped my fingers to answer. When I was done, the same gesture ended the call. The Watch even gives you a small indication that lets you know it detected a gesture input.

That intuitiveness, by the way, is the reason this is such a great feature in the first place. It behaves exactly the way you expect it to, which is one of the things Apple does best. I also think there's a real chance that Double Tap might be the biggest change in the way people will use their Apple Watch since it first came out.

There's a lesson here, which is that sometimes the best improvement you can make to a product isn't a new design or a radically different interface. Sometimes the best thing you can do is give a customer a new way of using something familiar. 

At one point, during the introduction of the Apple Watch, Tim Cook said that the Digital Crown was an input device on par with the mouse and the iPhone multi-touch display. Except, it isn't. You can use your Watch pretty much all day long and never once touch the Digital Crown. 

There's nothing wrong with it, but it's not a revolutionary new way of interacting with anything. The Double Tap hand gesture, however, is amazing. 

Technically, Apple has had accessibility features on the Apple Watch that have allowed people with limb deficiencies to use their Apple Watch through a series of gesture controls. Those, however, require time to set up and allow someone to control every aspect of the interface.

The Double Tap gesture requires no setup, and it just does what you expect. That means that if you're riding your bike, and you get a call, you can answer without taking your other hand off the handlebar. If you're in the kitchen, and your hands are covered in whatever you're cooking, you don't have to touch the display to stop a timer. Basically, it's going to change the way people interact with their Apple Watch, and that alone might be worth the upgrade.

On Tuesday, Apple unveiled its new lineup of devices, including the iPhone 15 and the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 models.

The pressure is on for CEO Tim Cook and the company, after three consecutive quarters of declining iPhone sales. Will these new iPhones be enough to rekindle demand and entice consumers to upgrade?

Here’s Fortune’s live coverage of the Apple launch event.

Apple CEO Tim Cook kicked things off with a quick update on the Vision Pro headset. Developers are “creating truly amazing experiences that wouldn’t be possible on any other platform,” Cook said.

“We’re on track to ship early next year.”

iPhone 15 Pro:

Apple has two new Pro models, the 6.1-inch iPhone 15 Pro, and the 6.7-inch iPhone 15 Pro Max.

The Pro is $999, Pro Max is $1199, which matches last year’s price for that level of storage. Pre-orders begin on Friday, and the phones will be in stores on September 22.

The iPhone 15 Pro is made of titanium instead of stainless steel, making it the lightest Pro model. It also has the thinnest borders and toughest ceramic glass yet. It’s the same material used on the Mars Rover, Apple says.

The iPhone Pros pack a 3-nanometer chip, the A17 Pro, which Apple says is the industry’s first processor at that level of advancement. The mobile CPU can process 35 trillion operations per second, while the GPU is 20% faster and supports ray tracing, which more accurately represents light in graphics on video game and AR applications.

Apple is also replacing the ring/mute switch, and giving the Pro models a new “Action Button.” The button can still turn the phone on silent, but it can also launch other actions, like starting a voice recording or opening the camera.

The Pro Max camera boasts a 5x optical zoom and allows for a 120mm focal length.

iPhone 15:

Apple is launching the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus. They have the Dynamic Island, which is new to the non-Pro model. The screen extends further to the edges and gets twice as bright as the iPhone 14 in the sunlight. The original is 6.1 inches and the Plus is 6.7 inches.

iPhone 15 costs $799, and the Plus costs $899.

The phone has a 48-megapixel camera, and it allows for continuous zoom during a video to look professional. The camera has 2X telephoto capabilities.

The phone detects when a user is trying to take a portrait and captures the image in portrait mode without the user having to select it. Users can now change the focus and apply portrait mode to a photo they’ve already taken.

The iPhone 15 chip is A16 Bionic, which first appeared on the iPhone 14 Pro.

And say goodbye to the Lighting Port— the iPhone will switch to USB-C for charging.

Colors include pink, yellow, green, blue, and black. The ceramic shield is reportedly tougher than any other smartphone screen. The enclosure is made up of 75% recycled aluminum, and it has a 100% recycled cobalt battery.

Apple Watch:

The new Watch is called the Series 9. It has a new S9 processor on the inside, the most powerful chip yet for the watch. It can process machine learning tasks twice as fast and allows for an 18-hour battery life.

Siri can now access health data using OS10. You can also log health data by telling Siri (i.e., log how much you slept at night). And t

The Series 9 Watch display goes to double the brightness of Series 8, and Apple is adding a new color to its watch palette, with the Series 9 available in Pink aluminum.

New feature: Series 9 allows for “Double Tap” where users can tap their index finger and thumb together twice to serve as pressing the main button on the screen. For example, it can answer a call, play music, or silence an alarm. It can be used when the other hand is full. Machine learning detects changes in blood flow and hand movement to detect the double tap.


The watch is made up of a series of recycled materials, including recycled gold and aluminum and a new, 100% recycled cobalt battery. Apple has a goal of reaching carbon neutrality across all its businesses, with all its products having a net zero climate impact, by 2030.

To that end, Apple says it will no longer use leather for the bands in the Watch. Instead, Apple says it created a new “FineWoven” textile, made up of 68% recycled material and which it says feels like suede.

Apple is also introducing another version of its higher-end Ultra watch, aimed at athletes and outdoors enthusiasts. The Ultra 2 has the S9 SIP. It has the same Double Tap feature and precision location tracking as the Series 9. It has the brightest display Apple has ever created, helping users read in the sunlight. It has a night mode that activates automatically in the dark. The screen also extends further onto the sides, allowing for a wider screen.

Series 9 starts at $399. Ultra 2 starts at $799. Consumers can start ordering today and they become available on September 22.

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