Apple held a press event Monday at its Cupertino, Calif. Headquarters where they proved that small is the new big with its iPhone SE and new iPad Pro.
Apple CEO Tim Cook opened the company’s event by commenting on the company’s recent court battle with the FBI over encryption.
“We did not expect to be in this position, at odds with our own government,” Cook said. “We believe strongly that we have a responsibility to help you protect your data and protect your privacy. We owe it to our customers and we owe it to our country. We will not shrink from this responsibility.”
Along with the encryption comments, Apple provided the usual company status update. While noting the milestone of reaching a billion active Apple devices in the wild, the company gave some stats on its renewable energy efforts along with sales numbers for the Apple Watch, Apple TV, and iPad, and insight into the iPhone SE’s launch.
Ninety-three percent of Apple’s facilities run on renewable energy (100% renewable power in the United States, 100% renewable in 23 countries). 99% of the company’s packaging is recycled or comes from sustainably managed forests.
The company also unveiled Liam, a robotic system that takes apart old iPhones and recovers materials like silver and tungsten that could be recycled.
Initially, Apple will focus on the iPhone 6, but the company plans to modify and expand the system to handle other devices. According to the company, the system started operating at full capacity last month and can take apart one iPhone every 11 seconds.
The company unveiled tvOS 9.2 for the Apple TV. The update adds Siri voice dictation to let you speak to search the App Store or enter passwords and iCloud Photo Library to access iCloud images from your iDevices. Also new is Bluetooth keyboard support, the ability to organize apps inside folders, and a new Podcasts app. tvOS 9.2 is available now.
Apple also announced some new Apple Watch bands along with a few new partnerships. The company’s fluoroelastomer and leather bands are available in new colors for $49. Apple also launched a black Milanese loop for use with the Space Grey watch.
The company also introduced a woven nylon line of bands. No pricing or availability was announced.
Apple is also cutting the Apple Watch’s price to $299.
iOS 9.3 is available now for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. The update brings additions to the operating system’s visual experience along with changes to Notes and Apple Music.
Night Shift is a new display mode that reduces the blue light emission of a device’s display to prevent eye strain.
In Notes, notes can be protected with a password, while third-party apps can now get access to your Apple Music library to manage playlists and add songs.
The iPhone SE features a smaller, four-inch display in a compact design that looks exactly like the iPhone 5s (excluding a new rose gold finish).
However, the big improvement is on the inside with the same A9 processor used in the iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, a 12-megapixel iSight camera with Live Photos and 4K video, Touch ID, and Apple Pay support.
That camera also benefits from Retina Flash, which momentarily brightens the display for better low-light selfies, 63-megapixel panoramas, video capture up to 60fps for 1080p video and 240fps for slo-mo, timelapse stabilization, and cinematic video stabilization.
“iPhone SE is an exciting new idea – we started with a beloved, iconic design and reinvented it from the inside out,” Apple senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller said. “Everyone who wants a smaller phone is going to love iPhone SE.”
That A9 chip gives the phone “two times faster CPU and three times faster GPU performance compared to the iPhone 5s.” The M9 coprocessor allows for features like “Hey Siri” always-on listening and fitness tracking to run all the time with lower power. The iPhone SE also includes more LTE bands for better roaming and supports Voice over LTE and WiFi calling.
Apple has also designed leather cases in black and midnight blue for $39, with color-matched Lightning docks for $49.
The iPhone SE will be available in space gray, silver, gold, and rose gold in 16GB and 64GB models starting at $399, or for 24 monthly payments of $17 at Apple’s U.S. retail stores on March 31 for customers in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Singapore, the UK, US Virgin Islands, and the US. Pre-orders will open up on Thursday. The phone will be available in early April in Albania, Andorra, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Guernsey, Jersey, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Kosovo, Kuwait, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Maldives, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey and UAE.
Lastly, the company unveiled a smaller 9.7-inch version of the iPad Pro with the same A9X chip that’s in the larger iPad Pro along with a four-speaker audio system, 12-megapixel iSight camera with 4K video, and a five-megapixel FaceTime HD camera.
That 9.7-inch display features True Tone technology, which uses four-channel sensors to adjust the display’s white balance to match the light around you. That Retina display is 25 percent brighter and 40 percent less reflective than the iPad Air 2, according to Apple.
“iPad Pro is a new generation of iPad that is indispensable and immersive, enabling people to be more productive and more creative,” Schiller said.
The 9.7-inch iPad Pro is 6.1mm thin and weighs just under a pound.
Along with support for the $99 Apple Pencil, the company has shrunk their $149 Smart Keyboard to fit the 9.7-inch form factor and released $49 Smart Covers and $69 Silicone Cases for the tablet in a variety of colors.
The 9.7-inch iPad Pro comes in silver, space gray, gold, and rose gold starting at $599 for the 32GB WiFi only model and $729 for the 32GB WiFi + Cellular model. Both iPad Pros are also available with 128GB and 256GB of storage. The tablet will be available for pre-order on Thursday for shipping on March 31 in Australia, Canada, China (WiFi only), France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Singapore, the UK, US Virgin Islands, and the US.
The 9.7-inch iPad Pro will be available in early April in Albania, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Cayman Islands, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Greenland, Guam, Guatemala, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Macau (WiFi only), Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand (WiFi only), Turkey and UAE.