Apple's 2018 iPhone Event: What You Need to Know


The new iPhones, Apple Watch and AirPods will be critical to Apple Inc.’s efforts to build on this fiscal year’s record revenue.

The new iPhones, Apple Watch and AirPods will be critical to Apple Inc.’s efforts to build on this fiscal year’s record revenue.


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Mark Lennihan/Associated Press

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on Wednesday will hold its annual product showcase at its headquarters, unveiling the new iPhones, Apple Watch and AirPods that will be critical to its efforts to build on this fiscal year’s record revenue. Here’s what you need to know:

The sun rises in the morning. Apple reveals new iPhones in September. What’s special?

A year removed from last year’s 10th anniversary celebration—the first to be held at Steve Jobs Theater on the company’s new campus—look for Apple to get back to basics. The iPhone remains its biggest product, and the company is ready to make it even bigger.

Apple plans to supersize its iPhone lineup, announcing two new models with its largest screens ever: a lower-priced device with a 6.1-inch LCD display and a pricier one with a 6.5-inch display using more advanced, OLED technology, according to people familiar with the plans. The company also plans to announce an updated version of its 5.8-inch OLED device with a faster processor for improved performance.

Analysts expect the devices to come in new colors: Gold, anyone? And some will carry other new features such as two SIMs—microchips that allow smartphone users to connect to a wireless network—making it easier for travelers to use their phones overseas, these people said.

Been there. Done that. What else is new?

It’s good you asked. Other products are going to be a big part of this week’s story for Apple. The company’s smartwatch and its wireless headphones, AirPods, have gained sales momentum over the past year, and Apple is hoping to accelerate that with updates to both.

The company is expected to unveil a new Apple Watch that comes closer to an edge-to-edge display and offers new fitness features, analysts say. At least one analyst also expects the device to provide an electrocardiogram, or ECG, though, that would likely require Food and Drug Administration approval, and Apple hadn’t secured that as of Tuesday.

The AirPods will offer water resistance and perhaps new colors that can broaden their appeal, analysts say. Though the headphones got off to a slow start, they have quickly helped Apple capture 26% of the U.S. wireless headphone market, according to NPD Group. The wireless headphone market is valued at about $2 billion.

What will investors be watching?

Pricing. Taking the price of its flagship iPhone to nearly $1,000 last year helped Apple squeeze more revenue out of the device even though unit sales remained flat. The trio of new devices offers a chance to do the same.

The new iPhones are likely to start at $800 for the LCD model, $900 for the iPhone X update and $1,000 for 6.5-inch OLED model, up from last year’s starting prices of $699, $799 and $999, according to Nomura Group. It predicts average iPhone selling prices will rise by $20.

Other analysts have slightly different prices—$699, $969 and $1,069—but all are banking on Apple to raise prices again and deliver more revenue in the year ahead.

Any love for Macs or iPads?

Remember when Apple last year announced a wireless charging pad that could simultaneously power an iPhone, smartwatch and AirPods? It still hasn’t released that, and analysts expect the company to announce a date for it to ship.

And in the spirit of everything-but-the-kitchen sink, analysts tracking Apple’s supply chain also say the company is also working on bringing facial-recognition technology to a new line of iPads and a lower-priced MacBook. It isn’t known if those will be announced Wednesday.

Will we get one more thing?

Apple likes surprises, but don’t expect the first Apple car to rise from the floor of the Steve Jobs Theater.

Still, the company could take advantage of the media attention to announce plans for the slate of Hollywood programming it has acquired or a potential subscription service to a host of U.S. magazines. It also could announce a new health service connected to the medical records that Apple now lets iPhone import to their devices. In May, Chief Executive Tim Cook told analysts that health is a “major strategic thrust of ours.” He also has talked lately about new services in the pipeline.

Write to Tripp Mickle at Tripp.Mickle@wsj.com

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