Apple Event Recap: New iPads, Apple Watch Series 7, iPhone 13 & iPhone 13 Pro models announced


posted Tuesday, September 14, 2021 at 3:00 PM EDT


Apple hosted a virtual event today dubbed 'California Streaming.' Ahead of the event, rumors swirled about the iPhone 13 series of smartphones, Apple Watch Series 7 and more. Unsurprisingly, many rumors came to fruition. Apple unveiled its new smartphones, which include some features that should interest photographers.


After showing off some of its Apple TV+ original programming in a montage, Apple got straight into its new products, starting with iPad.

You may recall that earlier this year, Apple unveiled new iPad Pro models. Apple's most popular iPad isn't its Pro models, however, it's the classic iPad. The new iPad looks the same but includes a new A13 processor, which is 20% faster than the previous generation iPad and up to 3x faster than the best-selling Chromebook.


The updated processor results in improved image quality. The rear camera has improved noise reduction and autofocus. The front-facing camera looks better, too. The rear camera is 12MP. The front camera includes Center Stage, which was first introduced in the recent iPad Pro models. This allows the camera to follow people during FaceTime and makes video calls more natural, including in third-party apps.

The 10.2" Retina display now includes TrueTone, resulting in a more comfortable viewing experience. While the display is new, its size and the iPad's overall form factor remain the same, allowing for a lot of compatibility across many accessories, including the first-generation Apple Pencil.


The new iPad starts at $329 for a 64GB Wi-Fi model. It comes in space gray and silver. To recap, it includes a new processor, new cameras and an improved display.

iPad Mini

The 10.2" iPad isn't the only new one Apple unveiled today. The iPad Mini also received love. Unlike the iPad, the iPad Mini is all-new. It joins the iPad Pro by ditching the home button. The complete redesign has narrow borders and rounded corners, and the design is thin and light. It comes in purple, pink, starlight and space gray.


The display is a liquid retina display. It's an 8.3" display despite the overall form factor remaining about the same size, thanks to the edge-to-edge display. The top button includes Touch ID.

The iPad Mini is the fastest in its class. The new model has 40% faster CPU performance and 80% faster GPU performance compared to the last generation. The device includes Neural Engine, too, and it's up to twice as fast as the previous generation.

In terms of connectivity, the iPad Mini has a USB-C port, like iPad Air and iPad Pro. With USB-C, data transfers are up to 10x faster. The cellular version includes 5G as well.


Looking at the cameras, iPad Mini includes a new rear camera with a 12MP sensor, improved autofocus and an f/1.8 aperture. Paired with the new processing power, the camera delivers Smart HDR and 4K video recording. The front-facing camera has a new 12MP ultra-wide camera with a 122° field of view. Like the new iPad, iPad Mini supports Center Stage.


iPad Mini has stereo speakers now, too, so it should be a good multimedia device. The device is compatible with a new set of accessories, including cases and the second-generation Apple Pencil (magnetically attached).


The new Apple Mini starts at $499. As a neat aside, the iPad Mini now includes a recycled aluminum exterior, meaning that every iPad on sale is made using 100% recycled aluminum.

Apple Watch

Like iPhone, Apple Watch has had annual updates for years. While last year's update didn't include many big changes, Apple Watch Series 7 packs a newer, larger display. After launching 38mm and 42mm models, Apple Watch moved to 40mm and 44mm. Now, it's growing by 20%. The Series 7 has been completely re-engineered. The bezels are a mere 1.7mm. The shape of the watch has been refined, too, to include softer and more rounded edges. It's also up to 70% brighter indoors when your wrist is down, allowing easier time-checking.



To go with the larger screen is a new user interface in WatchOS 8. Essentially, items are being made easier to tap. With the larger screen, there's now a full keyboard that you can tap or swipe. There's machine learning to make the predictive text functionality more accurate.

Durability has been improved with Apple Watch Series 7. It's the most durable Apple Watch, including a stronger, more crack-resistant face. It includes IPX6 and WR50 resistance for dust and water.


Battery life remains essentially the same, offering 18-hour life. However, the watch does charge faster than Apple Watch Series 6. 8 minutes of charge can provide you with 8 hours of sleep tracking, assuming your Watch was essentially dead when you went to bed.


Apple Watch Series 7 will be available in five new aluminum colors, plus a trio of stainless steel models and a couple of titanium case options. Apple Watch Series 7 is compatible with all existing bands. The new Watch starts at $399. It will be available later this fall.

iPhone 13

Starting with iPhone 13, the entry point into Apple's new iPhone models. The design is sleek and flat-edged. It includes a ceramic shield front cover for durability and includes IP68 water resistance.

The dual-camera system is new. The front camera has been re-engineered, too, now taking up 20% less space.


iPhone 13 includes a larger battery and a faster chip, the A15 Bionic. The new silicon uses 5nm technology and includes nearly 15 billion transistors. The 6-core CPU also includes improved machine learning features thanks to a 16-core Neural Engine. It's up to 50% faster than the leading competition, per Apple. The chip includes a new 4-core GPU, which is up to 30% faster than the competition.


iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Mini include new retina OLED displays, which are nearly 30% brighter. Peak brightness is 1200 nits, resulting in improved visibility outdoors. The Apple-custom OLED promises deep blacks and rich color, plus it can display HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision content.


The new chips power a new camera system. Its Apple's advanced dual camera. The new wide camera gathers nearly 50% more light. The camera sensor is the largest Apple has put in a dual-camera smartphone. The sensor-shift image stabilization introduced in the iPhone 12 Pro Max comes to iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Mini. There's a new Ultra Wide camera that has an f/2.4 aperture and 120° field of view.


iPhone 13 has improved video quality as well, with a new Cinematic Mode. This mode adds rack focusing capabilities to iPhone, allowing you to create more cinematic videos. Apple is using computational algorithms to drive focus shifts and racking performance. Cinematic Mode shoots in Dolby Vision HDR, which is possible thanks to Apple's new A15 processor.


iPhone 13 includes 5G connectivity, so it's not just the chip that's faster. We mentioned earlier that the battery is larger, resulting in about 1.5 hours more of battery life in iPhone 13 Mini and 2.5 hours more with iPhone 13.


iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Mini are compatible with Apple MagSafe accessories, including a new series of cases, wallet accessories and chargers. iPhone 13 starts at $799, and iPhone 13 Mini starts at $699. Starting capacity has been increased to 128GB from 64GB, and a new 512GB option is available.

iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max

iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Mini will surely prove popular among the masses, but for users demanding the best smartphones Apple has to offer, its Pro lineup is where it's at. iPhone 13 Pro (Max) is Apple's 'most pro iPhone ever.'

At first glance, it seems pretty similar, sporting a three-camera array on the back of the device. Like last year, the new models use surgical-grade stainless steel. It comes in different colors, though, graphite, gold, silver and an all-new sierra blue (which Apple says required a lot of work). The front includes a smaller front-facing camera notch, like the iPhone 13 models. It's 20% smaller. So, for now, there's still a notch, but it is at least getting smaller.


Inside, iPhone 13 Pro packs a new processor and new battery design. The A15 bionic makes its way to Apple's Pro models, albeit with a 5-core GPU. Apple says that iPhone 13 Pro has the most powerful graphics in any smartphone ever.


There's a new display, an all-new Super Retina XDR with a new, more efficient OLED panel with 1000 nits peak brightness (25% higher than last year). ProMotion technology makes its way to iPhone, too, with refresh rates ranging from 10Hz to 120Hz, dynamically matching your content. The display can match its refresh rate to how fast you swipe, too. If you have a variable refresh rate TV, the technology sounds similar.


Apple says iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max include the company's biggest camera advancement ever. The wide camera promises up to 2.2 times better performance in low light. The new wide camera is paired with an f/1.5 aperture.


The Ultra Wide camera has a new six-element lens and up to 92% better low light performance. The lens has an f/1.8 aperture. The new Ultra Wide camera can focus as close as 2cm with new macro photography capabilities.


The telephoto lens has a 77mm equivalent focal length and 3x optical zoom capabilities. If you consider the Ultra Wide camera, the iPhone 13 Pro models include 6x optical zoom across its three main cameras. The telephoto camera may seem the same, but thanks to improved processing power and continued LiDAR capabilities for autofocus in low light, the telephoto camera, and Ultra Wide and Wide cameras, too, include Night mode.


Apple is also introducing Photographic Styles. You can apply your preferred Tone and Warmth settings to your photos. They aren't filters, exactly, because Styles preserve natural skin tones and skies. There are Apple-designed presets, but users can also make and save their own Styles. Your Styles are applied in real-time thanks to the fast imaging pipeline. Styles are coming to all iPhone 13 models, by the way.


Considering video, we've already seen Apple's new Cinematic Mode with the regular iPhone 13 models. iPhone 13 Pro (Max) up the game with a completely end-to-end ProRes or Dolby Vision workflow, all in a single device, which is a first.

iPhone 13 Pro with telephoto camera, 77mm, f/2.8, 1/76s, ISO 200. Image credit: Jake Michaels

iPhone 13 Pro includes improved battery life, to the tune of 1.5 hours compared to iPhone 12 Pro. The iPhone 13 Pro Max has up to 2.5 more hours of battery life compared to iPhone 12 Pro Max.


iPhone 13 Pro starts at $999. iPhone 13 Pro Max starts at $1,199. There's a new 1TB storage option available, aimed at pro users. Preorders open this Friday, with shipping beginning on September 24.