Apple's September Event: New iPhones and Price Hikes – A Risky Move?

Apples September event promises major product announcements, including the iPhone 15 series and potential price hikes. Amid a declining smartphone market, the move is seen as risky.

The Apple September event is poised to be a memorable occasion, with several significant announcements anticipated. Among the highly anticipated reveals are the new iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Pro, Apple Watch 9, Apple Watch Ultra 2, and the possibility of USB-C AirPods, and even a new iPad mini 7. The keynote is scheduled to commence at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT, and we will be on hand to provide live coverage of the event, offering insights you might not gain from watching the Apple event remotely.

One of the most talked-about aspects of this event is the rumored price increase for the iPhone 15 Pro Max, which could potentially be $200 more expensive than its predecessor, the iPhone 14 Pro Max. In an economy that is still finding its footing, a starting price of $1,299 is a substantial investment.

To illustrate the impact of such pricing, consider the recent unveiling of the Apple Vision Pro at WWDC 2023 in June. Attendees at the event were generally enthusiastic and impressed by the capabilities of this spatial computer. However, there was an audible gasp in the crowd when Apple disclosed the Vision Pro's hefty price tag of $3,500.

This kind of visceral reaction was absent from the live stream of Apple's event, as remote viewers were limited to watching Apple's pre-recorded videos. Similar reactions are anticipated when Apple's CEO, Tim Cook, or possibly Senior VP Greg Joswiak, unveils the iPhone 15 pricing.

The prevailing consensus suggests that Apple will maintain the pricing structure from the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus, with the iPhone 15 priced at $799 and the iPhone 15 Plus at $899.

However, rumors have circulated that the iPhone 15 Pro may see a $100 price hike, and the iPhone 15 Pro Max could be $200 more expensive. Part of the rationale for this increase is the adoption of a stronger and lighter titanium design, a pricier material compared to the stainless steel used in previous Pro iPhone models.

Another noteworthy upgrade for the iPhone 15 Pro series is the introduction of a new Action button, slated to replace the traditional ringer switch found on earlier models. This new button promises to provide quick access to functions such as silencing calls and launching the camera, offering a range of customizable shortcuts.

Both the new iPhone 15 Pro models are also expected to feature camera improvements, potentially incorporating a new sensor from Sony. Notably, the iPhone 15 Pro Max may come equipped with an exclusive periscope telephoto lens, potentially offering a remarkable 6x optical zoom, a significant leap from the 3x zoom of the iPhone 14 Pro Max. There are even whispers of the iPhone 15 Pro Max achieving an impressive 10x zoom capability.

These enhancements could be one reason why the iPhone 15 Pro Max might earn the moniker "iPhone 15 Ultra." However, the critical question remains: will this ultra-premium price be justified?

It's worth noting that Samsung already offers a pricier flagship phone, the Galaxy S23 Ultra, starting at $1,199 / £1,249. Thus, Apple's decision to potentially surpass this price point with the iPhone 15 Pro Max is not out of the realm of possibility, especially if the new phone offers double the storage capacity, moving from 128GB to 256GB.

However, the prolonged circulation of price hike rumors for the iPhone 15 Pros might lead some at the Apple event to take the news in stride. Nonetheless, launching the most expensive iPhone ever in a smartphone market still in decline, with a 6.8% year-over-year decrease according to IDC, is undeniably a risky move. This decline is driven by consumers holding onto their phones for more extended periods.

Even Apple has not been immune to these market forces, experiencing a 2% decline in iPhone shipments during the second quarter compared to the previous year. Consequently, releasing the priciest iPhone to date in such an environment is a bold move, the success of which hinges significantly on the reactions to the rumored price hike—both at the Apple event and in the retail market.

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