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5 Ways Apple May Actually Surprise Its Fans at Next Month’s iPhone Event

August 30, 2018, 6:46 PM UTC

Apple sent out invitations on Thursday to its annual fall product unveiling. Slated for Sept. 12 on the Apple campus, the event will almost surely focus on new iPhones, with a possibility the company will also debut new iPads or other devices. Apple also typically announces updates to its smartwatch at its September events. But while much has already leaked in news reports, there are a few ways Apple could surprise everyone. Here are some of possibilities along with our educated guess on whether they will actually be unveiled.

An Internet video service

Likelihood: Quite possible

Apple isn’t just rumored to be working on its own Netflix (NFLX) competitor—the company has been on a hiring and dealmaking spree across Hollywood, snapping up the co-presidents of Sony Pictures Television, Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, last year and signing production deals with people like Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, and Oprah Winfrey. No one has yet reported many details about the video service, however. It could be packaged with Apple Music and other services like Amazon Prime. Or it could be a standalone subscription. Or it could simply be made available free to, say, all iPhone and iPad owners. Unveiling the service at next month’s iPhone event would certainly get attention.

Lower priced iPhone

Likelihood: Possible

Last year, Apple not only introduced the $1,000 iPhone X, it also modestly raised the prices of the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus compared to 2016’s new models. Thanks to the price hikes, Apple’s revenue from iPhones rose 14% in the first two quarters that the new models went on sale, even as the number of phones sold barely budged. There are mixed signals in the Apple rumor community about prices for 2018, but at least one Wall Street analyst in June forecast a $100 drop in price to the starting price of the updated iPhone X, to $900.

A round-faced Apple Watch

Likelihood: Not very

Through its first three iterations, the screen of Apple Watch has had a square design, even though the company has occasionally filed patents related to a round screen. Although the watch leads the entire category in sales, it has never become the huge hit some analysts expected. Apple has also had no qualms about going back to the drawing board to revamp aspects of its initial approach from 2015, like overhauling the entire app display last year. But so far, all of the rumors for the likely Series 4 version include a square screen, albeit one that’s slightly bigger and brighter.

The all-new Mac Pro

Likelihood: Unlikely

It’s a certainty that Apple is redesigning its aged Mac Pro desktop computer. When last we heard from the company on this topic in April, the revamped computer was said to be delayed until 2019. But with so many customers complaining about Apple’s neglect of the Mac line up, Apple could win plaudits with an early, surprise announcement.

A new MacBook Air with a better screen and no other changes

Likelihood: Unlikely

Apple’s reported best seller in its laptop line is the dated MacBook Air, which starts at less than $1,000 but runs on Intel chips released more than three years ago and still has a low resolution, non-retina screen. Bloomberg reported last week that Apple was finally planning to update the device, or at least offer something with more modern specs at the $1,000 price point. That led some to hope that their beloved Air would simply get a better screen and faster processor while keeping many ports (like USB 3 and an SD card slot) that have long since been eliminated from more recent models. Many also prefer the Air’s keyboard, which has keys with a lot more travel than those on newer models. But Apple (AAPL) has killed off so many ports and features and never once brought one back.