Apple unveils iPhone 15 titanium design, Watch Series 9 double tap feature

Apple unveiled a host of new products and updates during its much-anticipated annual “Wanderlust” event Tuesday, including a double-tap feature for its zero-carbon footprint Watch Series 9. It also introduced fresh features for the latest iPhone 15 series.

Apple CEO Tim Cook kicked off the event at the underground Steve Jobs Theatre at the Apple Park corporate campus in Cupertino, California at at 10 a.m. ET.

The fresh iPhone 15 series available for pre-order on September 15th and in stores on September 22nd boasts new features such as a customizable action button, dynamic island, voice isolation, Emergency SOS, powerful telephoto camera capabilities, and titanium design.

As expected, all Apple products are switching to USB-C charging, allowing faster transfer speeds.

Tim Cook Apple Wanderlust event
Apple CEO Tim Cook holds a new iPhone 15 Pro during the 'Wonderlust' event at the company's headquarters in Cupertino, California. September 12th, 2023. Image by Loren Elliot | Reuters

Although there were no surprise announcements that came out of the pre-taped event, Apple fans should be pleased by the number of innovative features to hit the beloved Apple watch and iPhone series.

The company also made sure to present viewers with its latest environmental initiative scorecard, in a somewhat clever (yet stilted) skit involving actress Octavia Spencer playing the cameo role of Mother Nature.

Double tap for Apple Watch

Apple COO Jeff Williams introduced the next generation of Apple watches, from the Series 9 to the more advanced Ultra.

Besides edge-to-edge always-on retina display, advanced workout metrics, car crash detection, name-drop contact share with other watches, easy connectivity to all nearby Apple devices, and a 30% boost in performance, the most innovative feature to hit the all-new Apple watch series is the so-called double-tap feature. This is meant to be used when only one hand is freely available, for example when a person is carrying a child or packages.

This brand new capability, which Apple calls “magic at your fingertips," allows the user to tap the index finger and thumb twice on the hand wearing the watch to get it to perform tasks, such as answer/close a call, snooze an alarm, choose music, scroll through widgets, or control a camera.

Apple Watch Series 9 Double tap feature
By tapping the index finger and thumb of the watch hand together twice, users can perform many of the most common actions on the Apple Watch Ultra 2. Image by Apple

Several other new features worth noting are the watch's improved Siri capabilities and its precision location feature.

The improvements are powered by the device's four-core neural engine, which allows Siri requests to happen directly on the device, instead of Siri retrieving or computing information from the cloud, thereby increasing response speed and making user dictation 25% more accurate.

For example, a person can ask Siri to retrieve or log health data on the watch even if the person is not connected to the web.

The new precision location feature gives the user the ability to ping their own iPhone or locate another person with precision finding, using exact distance and direction, with haptic and audible feedback to guide them to its location.

The Series 9 has also added a new pink aluminum watch face as fresh color option.

Not to be left out, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 showcased its new features, which include all the Series 9 innovations, some made even more powerful, such as dual-precision GPS location tracking.

The Ultra 2 has a new customizable “modular ultra” watchcase, geared towards runners, divers and other extreme action-oriented folks to “elevate any adventure.”

Apple Ultra 2
The new Modular Ultra watch face takes advantage of the large display, using the outermost edge to present real-time data like altitude, depth, or passing seconds. Night Mode now uses the ambient light sensor to activate in the dark automatically. Image by Apple

The Ultra 2 also boasts an advanced display of 3000 nits, making it easier to read in bright outdoor light or dimly lit environments. The watch has Apple’s longest battery life at 36 hours on a single charge and 72 in low-power mode.

Apple Watch prices run as low as $249 for the SE, rising to $399 for Series 9, and $799 for the Ultra 2.

Reduced carbon footprint

The all-new Apple Watch lineup marks the company's first zero-carbon-neutral product.

”This milestone marks a major step in the company’s journey toward its ambitious Apple 2030 goal to make every product carbon neutral by the end of the decade, including the entire global supply chain and the lifetime use of every device Apple makes," Apple said.

Apple is achieving its lofty goal by reducing emissions via three specific areas; materials, electricity, and transportation.

Apple recycled packaging
Apple's new recycled packaging to reduce carbon footprint. Image by Apple

Apple has committed to using more green materials in the manufacturing of products, such as recycled titanium and recycled cobalt batteries. Apple watch bands are now being offered with material dubbed "fine weave," and others are made from repurposed yarn, silicone, and rubber. Even Nike and Hermes have signed on to incorporate the new woven material into special product lines.

Leather accessories, such as phone cases and watchbands, will be phased out as well.

The company said all Apple offices worldwide are now operating using 100% clean electricity, making them carbon neutral, with roughly 300 Apple suppliers committing to the same.

Apple said it chooses low-carbon shipping modes, by ocean over air, to reduce emissions, and has retooled packaging to create a smaller footprint using only recycled materials.

Apple packaging will now flaunt a new carbon-neutral logo, if applicable.

Apple carbon Neutral Logo
Apple's new Carbon Neutral logo. Image by Apple

Other environmental initiatives Apple has taken on to help reduce greenhouse gasses include planting forests in Brazil and Paraguay, restoring mangroves in Columbia, and replanting grasslands in Kenya.

More powerful iPhone 15 Series

The iPhone 15 advertises a number of original features, starting with its design, and its models include the 15, 15 Plus, and the Pro.

The phone has a new contoured edge, allowing more room for text, with color-infused glass made from nanocrystalline particles, a textured matte finish, and ceramic shield, making it tough to break and water- and dust-resistant.

It is manufactured from carbon-neutral content, including 75% recycled aluminum and a 100% recycled cobalt battery. It comes in five colors: pink, yellow, green, blue, and black.

iPhone 15 colors

The iPhone 15 and 15 Plus performance A-16 bionic chip enables an advanced camera system featuring a 48 mega-pixel main camera, with a 2x telephoto lens complete with autofocus, maximizing resolution, computational photography, light capture, and Smart HDR for details and rich shades of color.

The phone is capable of what Apple calls next-generation portraits, with richer color, low-light performance, and a no-switch portrait mode that uses AI machine learning to switch focus from one subject to another, even after the photo is taken.

Besides an all-day battery life and 5G, the phone also boasts precision location and easy connectivity to other devices.

Apple  Location feature
Precision location feature. Image by Apple

One audio feature worth mentioning is a voice isolation mode, which allows the user to block out ambient noise for the receiver of the call.

Another brand new breakthrough service is the ”Emergency SOS” roadside assistance feature that will connect a user in distress using satellite technology to emergency services. First responders will be dispatched to the user's exact location pinpointed by the satellite, even if the person is located "off the grid."

Apple has partnered with the Automobile Club of America (AAA) to incorporate the Emergency SOS feature into the popular AAA member roadside assistance program. The service will also use the satellite feature to connect a user to a service station that can dispatch help in a non-life-threatening situation.

Apple roadside assistance
Emergency SOS feature. Image by Apple

The iPhone 15 series dynamic island and new customizable sleep/silent ring action button round out the highlights.

iPhone Pro and Max

Finally, the most advanced iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max is made from the lightest grade-five titanium, boasting even thinner borders than the other 15 models, reducing the phone’s dimensions without reducing display size.

The two advanced phones are also equipped with a tough ceramic shield display and come in at two size dimensions, 6.1 and 6.7 inches.

The titanium material is the same alloy used on the Mars rover. Its durability is high, yet it weighs less than the former stainless steel house. The phone casing's new specialized brush texture comes in black, blue, natural, and white.

iPhone Pro Titanium
The iPhone 15 Pro features a strong and lightweight titanium design, a new Action button, powerful camera upgrades, and A17 Pro. Image by Apple

It’s made with a unique thermo-mechanical process, aluminum on the inside, titanium on the outside, and PBV resin coating for structural integrity. Apple also said it made the phone more repairable with the ability to remove the glass screen.

What sets the Pro and Pro Max apart from the other two lower-end models is its more advanced A17 chip, the industry’s first 3-nanometer chip, providing faster speeds and increased mobile gaming performance.

The improved resolution and dynamic lighting make video games played on the devices seem more realistic, with faster response times. The chip is so advanced that games like Resident Evil Village and certain versions of Assassin's Creed, which could only be played on a console, PC, or Mac, can now be played on these mobile devices, making it a first for gamers.

The two popular franchises will be launching video game versions for the Pro and Max later this year and in the beginning of 2024.

Apple Pro Max Resolution
In addition to 48MP ProRAW, users can now shoot in 48MP HEIF, with four times more resolution than before. Image by Apple

The camera has seven lenses and a 48-megapixel main camera fit with nanoscale coding to reduce flare and provide better low-light performance for portraits and night mode, with sharper details and more vivid colors.

The Pro Max boasts four times more resolution and offers the user the option to shoot with a 24, 28, or 35mm lens. New features include focus-depth control, one of the longest optical zooms yet, a 25% larger sensor, auto stabilization, and an f/2.8 aperture.

For professional filmmakers and photographers, the use of the USB-C cable allows for 20 times faster transfer speeds for larger files.

Prices for the iPhone 15 Series range from $799 for the iPhone 15, $899 for the 15 Plus, $999 for the Pro, and $1,199 for the Pro Max.

Apple finished the event by announcing two new Cloud storage plans for customers, at 6 and 12 terabytes, as well as an $800 and $1,000 trade-in rebate offer for those with older Apple iPhone models, redeemable only at certain US mobile carriers.

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