Editorial Summary of Apple's "by Innovation Only" Event on September 10

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team


Apple has just concluded its annual September media event. This year's, which it titled "By Innovation Only", gave us new iPhones, the Series 5 Apple Watch, and more details on the company's new Apple Arcade and Apple TV Plus subscription services. Innovation, though, wasn't exactly the word I first thought of when I considered how to sum up the announcements. Don't get me wrong: the new iPhones have some great new features, and it will be interesting to see where the new subscription services go. But this wasn't a year for major design changes, like when Face ID and lack of bezels arrived with iPhone X. Still, there's some cool stuff in here, so let's get right to it.


The highlight of all these events is always the newest iPhone, so let's address it first. Apple is making three new models this year, just like they did in 2018 with the XR, XS, and XS Max. The XR is being replaced by the iPhone 11, the XS by the 11 Pro, and the XS Max by the 11 Pro Max. "Pro Max" is an, um, interesting name, but at least we finally have numbers in the names again! Moving forward, the new iPhone lineup will be: iPhone 8 for $449, iPhone XR for $599, iPhone 11 for $699, iPhone 11 Pro for $999, and iPhone 11 Pro Max for $1099.

All three iPhone 11 variants share several features:

  • an additional camera lens, giving dual lenses to the entry-level iPhone 11, and triple lens setups to the Pro phones
  • the ability to record video when the user taps and hold the shutter button while in a photo mode
  • the ability to crop and otherwise edit video from within the Photos app
  • new, tougher glass on the front and back, which Apple claims is the toughest glass on the market
  • the A13 processor, capable of up to a twenty percent speed increase, while using less battery
  • more battery life than the 2018 phones: an extra hour on the 11, four more hours for the 11 Pro, and five more hours on the 11 Pro Max
  • new color options
  • a virtual sound experience which Apple claims will be "immersive", and will support Dolby Atmos
  • pre-order any of these on September 13, starting at 5:00 A.M. Pacific time, or buy in stores starting September 20
  • a new payment plan, where approved buyers can pay monthly instead of all at once, with lower payments for those trading in older iPhones
  • the new U1 chip, which enables more precise locating at close range and other, as yet untapped, abilities

If you're waiting for other details--wifi and cellular improvements, app load times, upgrades to dust and water resistance--well, so am I. The speaker rushed through a few points about dust/water resistance being better, wifi 6 being included, and that was pretty much it. We know the A13 is, according to Apple, "the fastest CPU and GPU in any smartphone on the market", so we can assume iPhone 11 will run faster. Yet we have no specific examples or numbers. From materials published after the event, we know that iPhone 11 has an IP68 rating, and the afore mentioned U1 chip. The big focus during the presentation was on the cameras, though. Here's what we were told, mixed with things I've since read online.

iPhone 11

The "budget" model, the iPhone 11, is still impressive. It is similar to the iPhone XR from last year, in that it uses an LCD screen, has no bezzels to speak of, uses Face ID, and has a glass back and metal around the edges. But it has new cameras, an hour more battery life, and the new A13 processor.

The camera system has the usual lens, plus an ultra-wide angle lens capable of capturing 120 degrees. This is all supported by the same software-aided photography tricks we've come to expect, but with upgrades. Portrait mode has been improved, low-light processing is better and kicks in automatically, auto focus and highlighting are better, there are more auto focus pixels on the sensor. You get the idea. The front camera can capture a wider view when held in landscape orientation, and both it and the rear camera array have increased video recording abilities. For instance, you can record 4K video at 60FPS, and use the front camera for slow motion video now.

iPhone 11 has a matte finish on its glass, not the glossy finish from last year's iPhones. It uses aluminum on its metal sides, just like iPhone XR. Unlike the XR, though, it comes in six new colors: white, black, green, yellow, purple, and Product (Red). It can be pre-ordered on September 13, starting at 5:00 A.M. Pacific time, or picked up in stores starting September 20. The 64GB model will cost $699.

iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max

Like iPads, iPhones seem to be moving toward basic and pro tiers. iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max have some advanced features missing from iPhone 11, and are--not surprisingly--priced accordingly. Since the only real difference between the two pro models is the screen size, I'll cover them both here. Unless otherwise stated, everything in this section applies to both.

For the first time, an iPhone has four camera lenses: one for the front-facing camera, and three for the rear-facing one. That rear sensor array sports a telephoto lense, a standard lens, and a wide-angle lens. This gives the phone the ability to optically zoom in 2x, or out 2x.

As in iPhone 11, the Pro has new software to up its photography game. There's the same updated HDR, better focusing, and other improvements from the 11. The two big features of the Pro's camera are High-Key Mono, a portrait option that I honestly don't understand at all, and the "mad science" (Apple's words) of Deep Fusion. This latter trick is actually quite impressive, even if I can't visually verify that it does as good a job as Apple claims. Basically, the phone captures eight images with short exposure, then the ninth with a longer exposure when you actually press the shutter button. In one second, artificial intelligence breaks down all nine frames, and combines the details from all of them into a single image that should be the best possible shot. Think of it as stiching together the best bits of nine images to make one image with those best bits coming together.

The other big focus for Apple was the screen. iPhone 11 Pro has what the company calls the best screen in any iPhone, with more pixels and brightnes than ever. They claim that it's the same display technology used in the Mac Pro's screen. It's so good, in fact, that they couldn't resist giving it a big, long name: the Super Retina XDR Display.

iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max come in new colors, each of which has a matte finish instead of the glossy finish we saw last year. The metal is still stainless steel. The new colors are midnight green, gold, silver, and space gray. Pricing starts at $999 for iPhone 11 Pro, and $1099 for the Max variant. As a bonus, you'll get an 18W charger in the box, whereas other iPhones (including the 11) come with the old 5W charger.

Apple Watch Series 5

Today saw the release of a new series of Apple Watch, something I didn't really expect. The Series 5 replaces the Series 4, but Apple opted to keep the Series 3 around, now starting at $199. I'll save you the suspense and tell you that the Series 5 starts at $399.

What's new, you ask? The main features are a compass, with an accompanying app, and a display that's always on. Also, the cellular model of the 5 will now be able to call emergency services in any country you're in, which I didn't realize was a limitation before. It wasn't clear to me if this feature will come to other series of cellular Apple Watch.

The compass lets you know which way you're facing, obviously, but it's integrated in some neat ways. It appears in the Maps app, letting you orient yourself more easily. It also has a complication so you can know which direction is which at a glance, and it has an app that shows you direction, incline, elevation, and other details. According to articles I read, it also includes a cone which gets narrower the more confident the Watch is in the reading. If you're around a lot of metal that is interfering with the compass, the cone will be wider. In the middle of the woods, it will, presumably, be narrow or disappear since the compass is working just fine.

The new watch has a whole new kind of display, but the important thing is that it never turns off. When you raise your wrist or tap the screen, things work as they do on any other Apple Watch. But instead of turning black after a few seconds, the Series 5 just dims. An Apple Insider article described the effect as the complications "frosting over", while the time appears to overlay them. This isn't much good for VoiceOver users, but those with enough vision to see the screen will be very happy.

The final change is in the casing material. The aluminum case is still around, as is the stainless steel. The latter now comes in space black, brushed steel, and gold. The new material, titanium, can be gotten in either space black or brushed natural. Finally, a ceramic option is available in white. To accompany all these new colors and casings, Apple is finally letting users pick the color band they want, in what it calls "Apple Watch Studio". This feature is available online and in Apple stores.

Aluminum is the cheapest option, at $399 for the non-cellular version. As usual, these are available on September 20, but you can pre-order them right now (September 10).


Surprise! Apple updated its entry-level iPad, the one you can get for $329. It kept the A10 Fusion chip inside, but it gave the new iPad a 10.2-inch screen compared to the previous version's 9.7-inch. It also added the smart connector we've seen on iPad Pro and iPad Air, letting you use official or third-party smart keyboards with the new model. This update also includes support for the first-generation Apple Pencil. Don't worry: there's still a home button.

The iPad is otherwise unchanged, as far as I know. The storage options are the same, the price is still $329 and up, and the color choices haven't changed. As with the other hardware talked about today, you can pick this up on or after September 20.

Apple Arcade

Apple Arcade is a service that will offer users over a hundred games at launch, with more coming each month. The hook is that you can play any game for a single fee of $4.99 per month, and you can play on macOS, iOS, iPadOS, or tvOS. You can try Apple Arcade for a month before you commit to paying for it, which will be perfect for checking to see if any accessible titles can be found. Apple made no mention of this, but you never know. The price includes the whole family, assuming you have Family sharing set up. You can start playing on September 19.

Apple TV Plus

Apple is offering an array of original content that you can watch on any of its devices (no word on watching through a web browser on non-Apple hardware), and it calls the service Apple TV Plus. It will cost just $4.99 per month, but don't start paying that just yet. If you buy a new iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Apple TV, or Mac, you get a year of Apple TV Plus included for free. The fun begins November 1.

To answer a few common questions:


We finally have release dates for the upcoming software. The new versions of watchOS, iOS, macOS, and tvOS will be available on September 19. That day will see the release of iOS 13.0, while iOS 13.1 will follow on September 30. That's the same day that iPadOS will come out. It's an odd schedule, but there it is.

One other bit of sotware news is Apple Research. This app, coming later this year, will offer various health-related studies in which Apple Watch owners can enroll. Apple is partnering with various universities and hospitals to conduct studies on various aspects of health, hoping to leverage its large install base to get a lot of people--and thus a lot of data--to the teams running the studies.

Until Next Time

This announcement had far too many promo videos for my liking, and the iPhone details focused so much on the camera they pushed aside the information I was hoping for. Still, we got the new iPhone, entry-level iPad, Apple Watch Series 5, Apple TV Plus and Apple Arcade services, and final details on the upcoming operating system upgrades. Not bad!

Right now, I'm considering trading in or selling my iPhone 7, and getting the 11 (not the Pro). My Series 4 Apple Watch is just fine, and I don't exactly need an always-on display. What about you? Any upgrade plans? Will you be checking out Apple Tv Plus? Did Apple miss something you were looking forward to? To the comments section!



Submitted by Lisa on Wednesday, September 11, 2019

I was hoping Apple would bring back the home button because I like my touch ID to unlock my phone. I’m assuming they did not bring the home button back because it was not mentioned in the keynote. Is Face ID still the only way to unlock the new iPhones other than entering your password?

Submitted by alex wallis on Wednesday, September 11, 2019

rumour is that 2020 phones might have both face id and touch id, really though face id is a joke for us and our phones just aren't secure, but apple doesn't seem to care about that.

Submitted by alex wallis on Wednesday, September 11, 2019

how do you get the audio described version of apples event again, I did find them once but have forgotten how, think we could do with a blog entry mentioning that we can watch described versions of events after they are finished. I checked youtube and couldn't find it, and also iTunes store but nothing.

Submitted by Justin on Wednesday, September 11, 2019

This doesn't relate to todays event, but I "love" face Id. About the security stuff, it's been talked about with the iPhone X stuff 2 years ago, not a big deal. Anyway, sure the iPhone 11 looks interesting, but will plan on waiting till next year with the release of the iPhone 12 to see what comes out. THe home button is gone, and am glad for it.

Submitted by Matthew Whitaker on Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Apple really through in a few surprises I was not expecting personally. Great job. I just hope everything is accessible when all the new stuff releases.

Submitted by Chris on Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The subject says it all. This event lacks anything remotely resembling innovation. They still refuse to use USB C on the iPhone, which is incredibly disappointing. What happened to the whole "USB C is so awesome and we're going to use it in all our products and everyone else should do the same." attitude they used to have? I'll keep rocking my iPhone 6s. The best things to come from Apple this year are the vastly expanded features for VoiceOver, the new voice control feature, SMB network access, and USB storage on iOS. Speaking of which, are these file management features available on the iPhone and/or iPod Touch as well?

Submitted by Ekaj on Wednesday, September 11, 2019

I didn't get to catch yesterday's live event, but I'm just curious about something. Was there ever an iPhone 9 or an iOS 9? Just seems interesting that we've heard little. At least I've heard nothing about it. But anyway, thanks as always for this great summary of events. I'm not getting rid of my iPhone 7 anytime soon. I just got it a little over a year ago, and it's working perfectly well for my blood. But having said all this, the features of these new phones do sound really cool. Really looking forward to a week from tomorrow, when I can get my hands on iOS 13 and Mac OS Catalina. I'm going to help out my sister and her life-skills tutor again.

Submitted by Oliver Kennett on Wednesday, September 11, 2019

I understand that there was a design for an iphone 9 but it was skipped due to it being the 10th aniversery of the iPhones' launch. I think they wanted a bigger inovation witll the all screen formfactor which, presumably the 9 didn't offer.

Submitted by sockhopsinger on Wednesday, September 11, 2019

I'm interested to see how the Dolby Atmos will sound. To me, that is the only interesting thing I read about iOS13. As for the new phone, I could care less. I will probably still upgrade because I am on an Apple upgrade program, but I really don't care much about it. Oh, I guess the audio described Apple TV Plus could be interesting, but only time will tell.

Submitted by Clare Page on Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Hi! I read the above blog entry after notg being able to tune into the live Apple event: as a longtime iPhone user, with no other Apple devices, that was the part of it I took the most interest in. I can totally understand the choice of quite a few people deciding not to upgrade their iPhones this year, but those people probably still have recent models. Even though the Apple rumour mill predicts bigger changes to iPhones in 2020, I am probably going to upgrade to the iPhone 11, which will be a big improvement on my ageing iPhone 6: not only will I be able to get IOS 13 with a new iPhone, but the 11 will also be much faster, with a much better battery life than my 6, not to mention that I really don't fancy the idea of keeping an old iPhone going for six years without upgrading. Each to their own choice, though, of course!

Submitted by Holger Fiallo on Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Where is the Innovation??? It did I miss it? Did not heard any. I was hoping something good came out but nothing. My cat Bella took a nop and that tells you something about it. There is nothing to write home to.

Submitted by Clare Page on Wednesday, September 11, 2019

In reply to by Holger Fiallo

Even though getting an iPhone 11 will be a big step forward for me, as I pointed out in my last post, I agree with those who say that innovation was rather thin on the ground for this year's new iPhones, in spite of the name of the September 2019 event. The various versions of the iPhone 11 sound very similar to last year's models, judging by the descriptions, with not many new features, so I admit I'm a bit bemused as to why the word "innovation" was part of the title of this year's event.

Submitted by Holger Fiallo on Wednesday, September 11, 2019

FYI since this is a sighted world do not be surprise that in the future iPhone will focus on better video, ways to take pictures with better cameras and virtual reality. Since I can not see anything do not see the logic for the new iPhone. I am planning to keep my iPhone XS.

Submitted by Trenton Matthews on Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Ello peoples,
Before I say anything more, if anyone is using Lightning devices with either IOS or IPad OS 13 or later, make sure to grab the Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter
, so that ya can properly connect external drives and use them natively with the ‘files” app. Not that the ‘File Browser” app (nmade by Stratospherix Ltd) ain’t bad in its own right...

With that out of the way, as I have never had an Iphone before, I shall be switching to an IPhone 11 128GB in ‘purple” next year (trading in my 128GB Galaxy S10E in Pink.) Considering that my IPad Mini 5th gen 64GB in gold uses lightning anyway, definitely not a bad combo really.
Yes, I could have waited for the 2020 iPhones, I however don’t (for me anyway) see the point in doing so. Not everyone needs USBC right now... (Unless you’re more of a ‘geek” than a ‘nerd...”)
Or maybe I am just a little of both? No idea.

Ah, also will be picking up an ‘Apple TV” next month, now knowing that ‘Hulu” has a much better interface with accessing ‘audio described” content.

And with that, I shall catch yall on the flip side.

Submitted by SmoothJazzyTrumpet on Thursday, September 12, 2019

I am interested in the Apple Watch 5 and could care less about everything else, it was bla wah wah meh! The presentation consisted of too many promos and I didn't get that video Tim was talking about called "See" I think. It's all a blur to me. But I am looking forward to getting my first watch for staying fit, needs to be accessible and I hear AppleWatch is very accessible and has VoiceOver, heard a demo of it from a friend, and really want one, so am saving up and will order the Black Space Steel casing plus a millanese silver band 40mm wrist size one directly from Apple and will have it delivered to my house and it will be the absolute first time ordering from Apple Store App on my iPhone 8Plus. Too bad Alex won't be on the Apple Watch, but I can live with Samantha or shall I say the lady's name behind that alias and former Seri, Susan Bennit? :-) Have a great day all and will have plenty of questions about AppleWatch when I get mine. So excited to keep track of my health and heart.

Submitted by Bingo Little on Thursday, September 12, 2019

I watched the iPhone part of the event with my sighted partner and her take on it was very interesting. She said that the shots taken in the film entirely shot on an iPhone, plus the photography examples, were really amazing. If I were to ask her whether they qualified as innovation, I think she would definitely say yes. We both agreed that there's nothing to make upgrading from an iPhone 8 worth it for me, but she was initially very keen to upgrade her iPhone 8 to the 11Pro for the sake of the cameras.

That is, until she remembered that she would have to give up Touch ID, whereupon she went off the idea very rapidly. We've both seen the rumours about the 2020 iPhone's having both Face ID and Touch ID, and we'll be holding out to see if that comes to fruition.

As an owner of the Series 4 watch, I certainly shan't be upgrading for the sake of a compass and a display that frosts over. Was that really it?

Incidentally, this was a very frustrating viewing experience from my perspective. far too many visual presentations accompanied by whacky music, with what was said about the iPhone's features spoken at a hundred miles an hour, as though the speaker was commentating on the horse races; and how unenthusiastic she sounded at times! I'd have marked her down in advocacy training for that.

Submitted by Khushi on Thursday, September 12, 2019

I love this site a lot.
since I live in India and the timings really are opposit over here, I was unable to follow apple's first event. I was really excited since it was the first ever apple event that I was looking forward too since I really got interested into apple since getting my first IPhone 5 months ago.
I'm interested for IOS 13 since it means we'll have new voices for India as well and IOS will support all 22 scheduled Indian languages.
also, I don't know whether its true or not but I have heard that IOS 13 means more camera accessibility since that was the reason I took an IPhone. although I'm VI too and can only see light, it is satisfying that I'm able to take okay-okay photos and it just makes me happy.
I just got mine so I'm not going to upgrade, their is a lot to explore in my 6s right now!

thanks a lot for this post x

Submitted by Carter Wu on Thursday, September 12, 2019

You are not a Chinese user, so you may not encounter the bug I mentioned, but this bug is really bothering me.First of all, we must explain the premise that the xs max and xr we bought can put two real sim cards instead of virtual sim cards,so most of us will choose to put two real sim cards in the iPhone,the bug I want to describe will appear in this situation.If you open control center,you will find that there are a lot of things that should be displayed that cannot be displayed.For example,you set up an alarm clock , you should be able to hear an alarm clock icon in the control center,but the icon of this alarm clock on our iPhone is completely unreadable.If you close the voiceover and then open the control center,next open the voiceover, swipe your finger to the left,you will find that all the icons that you can't hear, including the icon of the alarm clock I just mentioned, can be heard at this time.I don't know if ios13 can solve this strange bug?

Submitted by techluver on Thursday, September 12, 2019

I read that there is an audio described version of the event?
1. How do I access this feed while the event is going on? (for next year's WWDC and launch, etc.) I checked the video options but all I could see was turning subtitles on and off.
2. How do I access it for past events?

Submitted by Khushi on Friday, September 13, 2019

hi, I also read here on this thread that their is one. I have never had the chance to watch anything audio-described till now. I also want to know how do I get it?

Submitted by René Jaun on Friday, September 13, 2019

Hello! I only heard about an audiodescribed version of the Keynote Event on Applevis too. I tried googling it, but I only found links to the video podcasts which don‘t include audio descriptions. So as of now, I doubt Apple actually did provide Audiodescriptions, though I‘d applaud them if they had done so, especially since the number of videos indeed was unnecessarily high this time.