Apple unveils iPhone 14 with SOS satellite, Ultra Watch for outdoors


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September 7 (Reuters) – Apple Inc. (AAPL.O) introduced new iPhone 14 models capable of using satellites to send emergency messages and an adventure-focused Ultra Watch for sports like diving and triathlons.

Outward-focused products will test whether Apple’s relatively affluent customer base will continue to spend in the face of rising inflation.

Prices for the high-end iPhone 14s are the same as last year’s iPhone 13 models. But Apple has discontinued its cheapest option, the iPhone mini, meaning the cheapest model is now $100 more than it was last year.

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The iPhone 14 will start at $799 and the iPhone Plus at $899 and will be available for pre-order starting September 9. The iPhone Pro will cost $999 and the iPhone Pro Max $1,099 and will be available on September 16. Read more

“It’s interesting that they’ve decided to basically hold prices despite inflationary pressure,” said DA Davidson analyst Tom Forte. “The decision or strategy is that Apple thinks it can maintain its margins by removing a cheaper device from the lineup.”

Apple said its SOS satellite will work with emergency responders. It also said that in certain situations, users will be able to use its FindMy app to share their satellite location when they have no other connectivity.

The service will be free for two years with the iPhone 14. Apple did not say what would happen after that period.

Shares in Globalstar Inc. (GSAT.A) jumped 20% on Wednesday after the satellite services company announced it would be the satellite operator for Apple’s Emergency SOS service.

Apple will pay 95% of approved capital expenditures for new satellites that would be needed to support the service, but Globalstar said it will still need to raise additional debt to build and deploy the satellites. Read more

The stock had gained nearly 70% from mid-June to Tuesday’s close, following speculation of a collaboration with Apple.

Other companies are working on similar functions. SpaceX founder Elon Musk said last month he was working with T-Mobile (TMUS.O) use its Starlink satellites to connect phones directly to the Internet.

Apple’s iPhone 14 Plus model will have a bigger screen like Apple’s iPhone Pro models but an A15 processor chip like the previous iPhone 13.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based company also showed off a trio of new Apple Watches, including a new Watch Ultra model aimed at extreme sports and diving and designed to challenge sports watch specialists such as Garmin. (GRMN.BN) and polar.

“Apple is competing for a consumer segment that is already very loyal to its existing products and suppliers, and it will have to prove itself over time,” said Canalys analyst Runar Bjorhovde.

The Ultra has a bigger battery to last through events like triathlons and better waterproofing and temperature resistance to perform in outdoor environments, as well as better GPS tracking for sports.

The new watches include an upgraded budget model called SE and an 8-series watch with collision detection and low power mode for 36 hours of battery life.

The Series 8 with cellular will start at $499 and the SE will start at $299 with cellular. The Ultra, which includes cellular in its base model, will start at $799 and be available September 23.

Apple said the new Series 8 watch has a temperature sensor that will work in conjunction with its previously released cycle tracking app to retroactively detect ovulation. The company has emphasized the privacy approach of its cycle tracking. Privacy and reproductive health data has become a priority for tech companies following a US Supreme Court ruling that ended the constitutional right to abortion in the United States.

Apple said it doesn’t have the key to decrypting health data such as cycle tracking.

Apple also touted that its second-generation AirPods Pro would double the amount of noise cancellation compared to the original version.

But while accessories like the Apple Watch have spurred incremental sales from Apple’s existing user base, the iPhone remains the bedrock of its business with 52.4% of sales in its last fiscal year.

Apple stock rose 0.8% after the presentation, lagging the S&P 500’s 1.8% gain for the session.

Apple gave no hints or previews of its mixed reality headset on Wednesday. The device is expected to have cameras that transmit the view of the outside world to the wearer while overlaying digital objects onto the physical world. Analysts don’t expect the device to go on sale until next year at the earliest.

A rival headset called Project Cambria is in the works at Meta Platforms Inc (META.O)who is spending billions of dollars on the project.

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Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Additional reporting by Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Henderson and Lisa Shumaker

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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