August 29 update below. This post was first published on Sunday, August 27, 2023.
Every fall, Apple unveils a new set of iPhones to an eager world. Even 16 years after the first iPhone was revealed in 2007, no gadget release generates comparable excitement.
This year’s release is less than a month away, and before that, there’s the Apple Special Event when the phones are revealed. First, though, there’s the moment when Apple sends out invites to press and guests, detailing when and where the event will be. And that could be just a couple of days away.
Want to be fully informed of what’s coming, and when, so there are no surprises? Here’s a comprehensive guide, even before Apple says a word. Of course, this post will be updated as soon as anything official happens (and you can see how right or wrong I was).
1. Apple Sends Out Official Invites To The Special Event
This is the starting gun. It will confirm that the event is taking place, with an attractive image and gnomic wording, inviting smart or even outlandish interpretation. Hint: the colors used are very often clues to the shades the iPhones will feature. There’ll also be an enjoyable augmented reality animation.
It could be any day now. It’s always at least a week before the special event itself which, from the timeline below, means the latest will be Tuesday, September 5. However, it seems that Apple also likes to send a frisson through the air in Berlin, host to the massive tech show, IFA, which runs from Friday, September 1 to Tuesday, September 5. The earlier the announcement, the bigger the impact. Apple never sends out invites on a Friday or a holiday (Monday, September 4 is Labor Day), so that points to Thursday, August 31. This is a strong contender, but I think it’s wrong.
Apple’s event this year is a week later than it was last year, so I think Apple wants to get our anticipatory juices going as soon as possible.
Tuesday, August 29 or Wednesday, August 30, between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. Pacific.
CONFIRMED! Apple announced at 1o a.m Pacific that the event will be on Tuesday, September 12.
2. The Apple Special Event
As soon as the invites are sent, we’ll know the details for the special event itself. It’s always in Cupertino, at the Steve Jobs Theater since that’s been built, and always at 10 a.m. local time. Other special events happen in different cities, but Cupertino is iPhone Town.
It had been thought that Wednesday, September 6 was on the cards, but that simply isn’t happening. It would have been Apple’s preference, I’m sure, but all reports say that the production line is geared up for later in the month, so the event is that bit later, too.
Apple almost always chooses a Tuesday if it can, avoiding it only if it’s the day after a public holiday, if it falls on September 11 or if, you know, there’s Covid gumming up the wheels.
Tuesday, September 12 at 10 a.m. Pacific at Steve Jobs Theater, Apple Park, with simultaneous broadcast.
3. Pre-Orders Begin
This one is pretty regular and therefore guessable, assuming all other details are right. It usually falls on the Friday one week before onsale date.
Friday, September 15—time tbc.
4. Apple releases iOS 17, iPadOS 17
This is a quietly important step. It means anyone who has a compatible iPhone or iPad can download the software, even without the need to invest in the iPhone 15 series hardware. It often happens in the same week as the keynote. Last year, the iPad software came later, in October, but that may not be the case this year. Mac software has its own release date.
Monday, September 18 at 10 a.m. Pacific, though it could be sooner.
5. iPhone Reviews Appear
This will be early in the week, on a separate day from Apple Watch reviews. Select press will be seeded the iPhones from soon after the special event, and reviews usually appear from 9 a.m. Eastern/6 a.m. Pacific, though this timing can change.
Tuesday, September 19 at 6 a.m. Pacific.
6. Apple iPhone 15, Apple iPhone 15 Pro Go On Sale
Without fail, Apple releases its iPhones, or at least some of the new range, on the Friday in the week after the keynote. The caveat here is that the iPhone 15 Pro Max could be delayed, because of rumored production issues. However, I believe that unless this delay is three weeks or more, Apple will announce at the same time, but with a deferred pre-order and shipping date.
Friday, September 22.
7. iPhone 16 Rumors Begin In Earnest
Saturday, September 23. Okay, I’m joking, but only sort of.
Please check back—I’ll update this post to confirm (or correct) as everything is revealed.
August 28 update. The schedule above is, I hope, comprehensive. As yet, nothing has contradicted any of the details—though that could change!—but in the last hours there’s been a corroboration from a respected reporter and news from a highly acclaimed analyst.
First, according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman in his latest Power On newsletter, the date of the special event is still “poised for Sept. 12”. I’m not surprised but certainly relieved that Gurman is saying what he’s saying.
Gurman said, “From what I’ve heard, the launch of the 2023 iPhone and Apple Watch will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 12. That’s slightly later than last year’s Sept. 7 event. If the company’s typical pattern holds, we should expect iPhone preorders to begin on Sept. 15 and for opening day sales to kick off on the 22nd.”
Happily, that matches what you’ve read above, so no need for me to write I got this wrong in big letters yet at least. Gurman has more details about the even itself. He went on to say, “The structure of the event, I’m told, will match the iPhone 14 launch: A prerecorded video will be shown online, as well as at an event at the company’s headquarters. In-person attendees will be able to try out the iPhone 15 and new Apple Watch after the presentation. There’s also another launch occurring in October — likely for the first M3 Macs — but it’s unclear if that will be positioned as a formal event.”
We’ll learn more about October activities in due course.
Meantime, there has been potentially good news for those hoping to splash out on the iPhone 14 Pro Max. Celebrated analyst Ming-Chi Kuo from TFI Securities has just written about Apple for Medium.com and has been very positive, saying Apple “could become the world’s largest smartphone brand by 2023 and 2024.”
There was also positive information for prospective Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max buyers. This model, as you’ve read above, could be in short supply. Kuo says, “The market is concerned that iPhone 15 shipments will be further cut due to supply chain issues (my estimate of 80 million units vs. conservative views of 70–80 million units), especially iPhone 15 Pro Max shipments will be delayed. However, the fact is that the iPhone 15 Pro Max will start mass shipments this week.”
That could be transformational news. Stay tuned.
August 29 update. So, the cat is out of the bag, at last. As you’ll see above, I have updated the post above to confirm that the date of the next Apple special event has been announced. I had guessed it would be today or tomorrow, and it turns out that today’s the day. Earlier today, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman tweeted as follows, “In what will be the first of two (yes) tech event announcements today, Amazon says its new devices event will be held on September 20th, 8 days after the iPhone 15 event.”
Sure, Gurman could have said the other announcement was Apple’s but maybe he was playing his cards extra carefully. Anyway, the much-touted date of Tuesday, September 12, exactly two weeks from now, proved to be the one that Apple had marked on its secret calendar. At 10 a.m. Pacific, CEO Tim Cook will take to the stage of the Steve Jobs Theater in the outskirts of the Apple Park campus in Cupertino and with his trademark “Good morning:”, will introduce a movie with Hollywood production values which over an hour or two will unveil four iPhones and two Apple Watches. Who knows, maybe there’ll be other surprises, too?
Also today, Ming-Chi Kuo reported that the most expensive iPhone we’re expecting to see, the iPhone 15 Pro Max, may also prove the most popular. It’s all down to the new camera, Kuo says: “iPhone 15 Pro Max, the most expensive iPhone, accounts for 35–40% of iPhone 15 series shipments, the highest share. iPhone 15 Pro Max shipments in 2H24 also grew 10–20% YoY compared to iPhone 14 Pro Max in the same period. It means Apple is optimistic about the selling point of the periscope, which is only available in iPhone 15 Pro Max, it’s thought. This isn’t the first time Apple has differentiated the camera capabilities between the two sizes of Pro iPhone, usually with a different focal length for the bigger phone’s telephoto lens. That’s effectively the difference here, too, as the periscope lens will bring a much longer focal length. That’s because periscopes work by using a mirror to send the light sideways inside the body of the phone to achieve a much bigger telephoto than would be possible unless the phone was much, much thicker.
Periscope lenses are also more expensive, so it likely means the next Pro Max will see a price hike, which has also been predicted. More details will become clear in the coming days or, failing that, on September 12.