Summary of Apple's March 21, 2016 Event

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

Let's "Loop You In!"

With Apple, most of us are in for some big excitements when it comes to the company's gorgeous events. Of course over the past couple of years, the smorgasbord of leaks prior to the events have spoiled the anticipation phase a bit. However, regardless of what you might or might not have heard about Apple's event which was held this morning, let's focus on what the company debuted. Maybe what was put at our fingertips can form the basis of our next iDevice or Watch purchase.

This is not September, but we have an iPhone -- a miniaturized one!

Today Apple finally unveiled something many users were on the lookout for: an iPhone which is not only smaller, but as powerful and feature-rich as its older brethren: iPhone SE. This 4-inch iPhone reminds us of the older iPhone 5 line put on steroids. For instance, it uses the very same A9 CPU which can be found in iPhone 6s. It also comes with a 12 megapixel back camera with Live Photo/4K video capabilities and the Touch ID sensor and NFC sensor for Apple Pay. 3D Touch, however, is absent to keep the 6s line the more appealing offering.

Apple is in a good position to release a 4-incher iPhone. It's now clear that one-third of iPhone buyers still prefer four inch phones. As such, two and a half years after the introduction of iPhone 5s, iPhone SE continues the ride with exciting hardware components. As mentioned earlier, the iPhone SE offers

  • a third-generation 64-bit A9 processor with an embedded M9 motion coprocessor,
  • upgraded cameras (a twelve-megapixel camera on the back, Retina Flash function for the front camera, Focus Pixels and True Tone Flash, and video improvements),
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi,
  • NFC for Apple Pay,
  • tetherless "Hey Siri" function, and
  • latest-generation Touch ID fingerprint sensor.

Many users will find iPhone SE interesting. If you have relatively smaller fingers or pockets, if you have difficulty using the 6s/6s Plus, or if you're looking for cheaper cell phones but definitely want an iPhone, look nowhere else. The SE model is priced at $399 for the 16GB model and $499 for the 64-GB model. It'll be released on March 31.

Tablet lovers rejoice: the smaller iPad Pro is here

Love iPad Pro with its 4 speakers and its souped-up CPU, but find it too big, bulky or expensive? If so, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is for you. It's basically the very same iPad Pro model with a smaller display, an A9X chipset, 4 speakers and a Smart Connector for keyboard cases and a wide range of accessories. Apple Pencil is also supported -- as expected. In short, it's no longer called iPad Air.

The 9.7 iPad Pro uses the very same cameras found in the iPhone 6s line. Resolution of the front-facing FaceTime camera has been bumped to five megapixels with True Tone Flash. the rear iSight camera is also the same twelve megapixel shooter with Focus Pixels, Live Photos support and other perks. Obviously photography is taken more seriously here, and users of apps like knfbReader will wreap the benefits.

The new iPad Pro will be available starting March 31st. This time around, however, Apple has decided to offer a cool 256GB iPad Pro whose Wi-Fi-only model starts at $899. The 32GB Wi-Fi-only model starts at $599, and the 128GB Wi-Fi-only model retails for $749. Older iPads remain on the market with discounts.

Various OS updates are available with accessibility fixes and new features

If I make an attempt to outline what Apple has done to iOS and TVOS over the past couple of months, I'll do injustice to my awesome colleagues who have been at work trying to digest everything for your enjoyment. So let me put the results of their labor at your fingertips:

  1. iOS 9.3 with a number of features and improvements
  2. tvOS 9.2 with Support for Bluetooth Keyboards, Voice Dictation, and More
  3. OS X El Capitan 10.11.4 with full Live Photos sharing, password-protected Notes and more
  4. watchOS 2.2 with Nearby in Maps, pairing of multiple watches and more

New Watch bands and a watch price drop

While many of us are anticipating a new Apple Watch, Apple didn't forget its original Watch which was released last year. Apple Watch Sport models now start at $299 rather than $349. Some wrist bands were also introduced for the Watch -- including an all-new woven nylon band which is quite durable, a new Space Black stainless steel Milanese Loop band to match the black stainless steel Apple Watch, and some new colors for the affordable Sport band. All in all, these changes will put the Watch in the hands of more consumers.


As Wired put it,

Well it appears “big things getting smaller” is an overarching theme for today’s Apple announcements.

Apple rightly took advantage of today's event to mention some earthshattering numbers. More than 1 billion Apple devices are in use around the world. 99% of Apple packaging comes from paper that is either recycled or sustainably managed. And Apple uses 100% renewable energy in 23 countries. Let's not forget Apple's CareKit which helps patients better handle their illnesses. But these numbers might mean little or nothing to us if they're not accompanied by the mention of the features we desire.

As such, now that Apple has expanded its iPhone line, will you be purchasing the smaller SE model in place of iPhone 6s? I might not be one of those lovers of smaller handsets as I can't live without my 6s Plus, but I know many friends of mine relish purchasing iPhone SE for the reasons mentioned above. Also, do you consider purchasing the smaller but equally powerful iPad Pro model? As far as I'm concerned, this is the first time I feel I'm so close to securing my iPad. The prospects of multitasking on this not-so-Brobdingnagian iPad is tantalizing and the speaker setup is equally mouthwatering. Let's see what happens in the upcoming weeks.



Submitted by M3xtreme on Monday, March 21, 2016

Amir, This was a great post and i appreciate the time you took to write it. I was not able to get updated about the event and i came here in hopes for a good update and luckily i found one. Thanks again for your time and energy. I believe the new iPad is going to be interesting to see if it can match up to previous versions. I look forward to testing some of these out myself.

Submitted by Ekaj on Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Hi and thank you for this nice round-up. I listened to the event last night, or at least part of it. I accidentally pressed something that stopped it though, but when I have more time I'm going back and listening to it in its entirety. But one thing which I was pleased to hear was that Siri actually talked back in one of the demonstrations. I forget which one it was, but it was indeed nice to hear. I just updated to OS X 10.11.4 and iTunes was also updated.