Gadget season is here — new folding phones, watches and earbuds are coming
Apple launches the iPhone 13 in the UK
Ming Yeung | Getty Images
Apple, Google, Amazon, Samsung and other firms are teeing up for a busy fall filled with lots of new gadget launches.
It’s like clockwork. Big tech companies launch the latest products, like phones, watches, or even robots and flying security drones, beginning in August and up through November, to gear up for the holiday shopping rush.
Samsung kicks it off next week, on August 10, when it will announce new folding phones, giving it a chance to attract consumers before Apple holds its iPhone event in September. The new products at Apple’s fall events have a direct impact on the company’s balance sheet. The holiday quarter is typically Apple’s biggest. It reported record revenue last year for the three months ended Dec. 25, for example.
Meanwhile, Google has promised to launch its next phone with a brand new chip, and its first Apple Watch competitor, this fall. And don’t forget Amazon: It typically announces new Echos, Fire TV products and sometimes tosses in a few surprises, like last year’s Astro Robot, at an event held sometime between September and November.
There’s a lot, so here’s a rundown of what to expect.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2
Customers can already reserve one of these new smartphones, even though they haven’t been announced yet. Some of the chief complaints surrounding foldable phones have been the price of the higher-end Galaxy Z Fold model and the obvious seam that interrupts the phone’s display. Any price drop or upgrades to make the fold less obvious will be notable. Samsung typically announces new earbuds, tablets and smartwatches to compete with Apple’s iPad, AirPods and Apple Watch, too.
Here’s what it launched last August: Last year, Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Z Fold 3, which was priced at $1,799 and the Galaxy Z Flip 3 for $1,000. It also announced the Galaxy Buds 2 headphones and the Galaxy Watch 4.
Customers walk past a digital display of the new green color Apple iPhone 13 pro inside the Apple Store on 5th Avenue in Manhattan, in New York, March 18, 2022.
Mike Segar | Reuters
Here’s what to expect:
Apple’s reportedly planning four iPhone 14 models this year, according to Bloomberg, which said we can expect new features like an always-on display on the higher-end Pro models. The same report said Apple may ditch the 5.4-inch iPhone mini and instead launch a more affordable big-screened iPhone with a 6.7-inch screen. That suggests Apple will launch an iPhone 14, an iPhone 14 with a bigger screen, the iPhone 14 Pro and the iPhone 14 Pro Max.
Apple is also set to unveil three new Apple Watch variations, including a new entry-level SE model, a standard Series 8, and a rugged edition aimed at extreme sports, according to Bloomberg. The AirPods Pro earbuds are due for an update, and there’s still talk of Apple’s first mixed reality headset, but those could also come later.
Still, Apple’s mixed reality headset would mark the company’s first major product launch since it unveiled the Apple Watch in 2015. The headset will combine elements of virtual and augmented reality, allowing users to place digital content on top of the real world, according to Bloomberg. Apple has been working hard on VR content, enlisting Jon Favreau to develop video content for its headset, the New York Times said in June.
What it launched last September: Last year at its fall product event Apple announced a new iPad and iPad mini, the Apple Watch Series 7, the iPhone 13, the iPhone 13 mini and the iPhone 13 Pro Max.
Google Pixel 7 and 7 Pro
While Google doesn’t make much revenue from its hardware business, it will launch its first smartwatch and the Google Pixel 7 as it continues to try to build momentum in the hardware market.
Here’s what to expect: Google has announced gadgets in October for years. Back in May at its I/O event, Google teased what’s on deck. Its newest phone, the Pixel 7 will have a second-generation Tensor processor and a glass design with a new aluminum camera bar. A larger Pixel 7 Pro model will ship with a triple-lens camera. But we don’t know much about what else is new about the phones, like the prices, or what the cameras and new chip are capable of, so expect to hear all about that.
Google also teased its Pixel Watch, the company’s first smartwatch, which will launch this fall. In a tweet on May 11, Google said the watch, “features the best of Google, plus Fitbit health and fitness experiences.” So, expect some sort of software tie-in that provides new fitness and health features.
It’s possible we could see updates to at least one Google Nest product. A recent FCC filing by Google described a product their working on as a “wireless device,” with connectivity ports similar to current Nest devices, according to 9to5Google. It hasn’t announced new Nest thermostats or speakers since 2020, so those could be on deck.
What it launched last year: Last August, Google announced new Nest cameras and doorbells. Then, in October, Google unveiled all the details of its Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro smartphones. Those were the first smartphones to run on Google’s Tensor chip instead of Qualcomm’s processor.
Amazon Echo Show 15
Here’s what to expect: Amazon historically holds its hardware event sometime in the fall, when it announces a slew of gadgets, ranging from new Echos (like last year’s Echo Show 15, pictured above) to glasses with Alexa built-in and more.
The fourth-generation Echo speaker launched in October 2020, so that’s due for an update unless Amazon continues to experiment with new form factors. Likewise, Amazon typically announces updates to its Fire TV products in the fall.
For the past two years, Amazon’s Ring has been teasing the Ring Always Home Cam, a flying drone camera for home security. It still hasn’t launched, so it’s possible we’ll find out when it will hit the market.
Here’s what it launched last year: Amazon had few surprises in store last year, so this year could be just as exciting. Amazon debuted its Astro home robot, which is still only available by invite-only. It also announced its first smart thermostat, the first Amazon-branded TV sets, the Echo Show 15 and a new Halo View fitness tracker.
This photo from Oculus shows what it might be like to play it in an apartment.
Here’s what to expect: Meta, formerly Facebook, could have a new virtual reality headset on deck.
Bloomberg said in July that Meta is gearing up to announce the Meta Quest Pro virtual reality set later this year. It will reportedly cost more than $1,000 and will have a better screen, improved cameras and support for improved graphics.
Meta’s Quest 2 headset is currently the most popular on the market. As other players enter the race to develop the so-called “metaverse,” Facebook’s parent company will need to continue to advance its hardware to stay in the lead. And it may want to get something out ahead of whatever Apple is planning.
Here’s what it launched last year: Last September Facebook unveiled its updated Portal video-calling devices. It hasn’t released a new version of its Oculus device since September 2020.
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