iPhone 13 event utterly bamboozles leakers
What on earth happened?!
The iPhone 13 event is in the bag. Not only do we have our best iPhone to date ready for upgrade season, we also have a new Apple Watch Series 7, iPad mini 6, and iPad to get our hands on in the coming days. As per usual, Apple struggles to keep lots of details about its upcoming products a secret, and lots of leaks and rumors about this year's devices were in fact true. However, for the first time in what seems like a very long time, multiple high-profile leakers with proven track records of accurate inside information were made to look a bit foolish. So what on earth happened?
First off, a lot of folks seem to have been wrong about the event itself. We knew we were getting a new iPhone and Apple Watch, however, Ming-Chi Kuo stated just one day before the event that AirPods 3 were also on the way. We were also led to believe that Apple's event would not feature tablets, with iPads coming later in the year:
There will be two events, and I’d expect the latter to be Mac + iPad. iPhone/Watch Tuesday. https://t.co/xfAjhUkigC— Mark Gurman (@markgurman) September 12, 2021
It was a pretty big surprise then when Apple debuted a new iPad mini and entry-level iPad to start the event yesterday, and the surprises didn't end there.
Probably the biggest surprise was Apple Watch. We'd been led to believe by multiple sources that Apple was planning a big Apple Watch design change. Just a day before the event Bloomberg's Mark Gurman noted in his Power On newsletter that "while the iPhone won't be seeing any momentous design changes, the Apple Watch will. Look for a flat screen and flat edges to match the iPhone and iPad design...". Even earlier, Gurman noted that this year's Apple Watch would be "all about a new design with a flatter display and edges, a faster processor and slightly larger screen.s" This rumor is reflective of renders and leaks from Jon Prosser, who also stated on multiple occasions that a big watch design change was on the way. Ming-Chi Kuo also stated that a new Apple Watch design was on the way. Whilst the Apple Watch's design did change, it didn't change at all in the way we thought it was. In fact, Apple was very careful to emphasize it had been "with softer, more rounded corners" and a display that appears to "seamlessly connect with the curvature of the case," just to really stick it to the leakers. From multiple angles, the Series 7 looks like a slightly tweaked and refined Series 6, and delivers none of the "momentous" flat edges we were promised. Not that this is a bad thing, personally I've not liked any of the rumored Apple Watch renders, and much prefer the look Apple actually delivered.
Apple Watch Series 7 doesn't have flat edges... pic.twitter.com/grTD8E1jPO— iMore (@iMore) September 14, 2021
Under the hood, Mark Gurman also stated in a Power On newsletter "per usual, expect a new chip. It'll be called the S7 in all likelihood." However...
There is a reason Apple didn’t talk about the Apple Watch Series 7 CPU this year…— Steve Troughton-Smith (@stroughtonsmith) September 15, 2021
…and it’s because it’s the exact same as last year’s Series 6 👀 In fact it doesn’t even get a new model number, it’s effectively just a chassis tweak pic.twitter.com/mLsTNkdTNO
No one on the outside looking in will be able to tell us how Apple Watch Series 7 leaks were so off this year, but there's been some speculation that rumors were in fact true, and that Apple has been forced to make some last-minute changes, possibly because of production issues:
The fact that it doesn’t even get a new model code makes me think that the rumors about a redesign were right, but something went south at too late of a time to be fixed, and they had to improvise. https://t.co/c6VckCnzv1— Guilherme Rambo (@_inside) September 15, 2021
It seems clear to me that the Apple Watch Series 7 was not supposed to have the design we saw today, and something went wrong from a manufacturing perspective towards the last second (causing delay).— Binyamin Goldman (@bzgoldman) September 15, 2021
It's nice to think that Apple jiu-jitsued leakers but that is even less likely
Speaking of which, supply chain guru Ming-Chi Kuo repeatedly stated that Apple Watch Series 7 had overcome these delays and was on track for a September launch, however, Apple couldn't even give us a date for the new wearable beyond "later this fall."
Reports from Ming-Chi Kuo of an iPhone 13 satellite feature did not materialize. This has been a strange one, Mark Gurman described this in Power On as a "significant addition to the iPhone 13" but also said it "might be one that won't be ready until next year." He went on to explain it might be hardware tech that is buried in the iPhone, but won't see the light of day until software support follows next year. Certainly, Apple made no mention of the feature at its event.
Plenty of leaks from all the usual suspects did in fact land on the money this year, so whilst there were a few surprise admissions there were also plenty of chips that landed exactly where we expected them to fall.