By Emily Bary
An analyst expects that announcements about video and gaming will overshadow 'boring' new iPhones
Apple Inc.'s fall event is usually all about the iPhone, but this year the flagship device will likely be relegated to a supporting role.
With the smartphone giant expected to roll out a fairly lackluster set of new iPhone features at its Sept. 10 event (link), there's still one element of Apple's (AAPL) business that could bring excitement. The big mystery surrounding the company is how it will price and bundle forthcoming subscription video and gaming services, and Apple fans should expect new details when Chief Executive Tim Cook and his team take the stage.
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CFRA analyst Angelo Zino is calling for a "boring" slate of iPhones on Tuesday, but he's still betting that the event will be "must-see TV" due to the expected announcements on services. Reports indicate that Apple is planning to charge $4.99 a month for its Arcade gaming service and $9.99 a month for its Apple TV+ video product, and it will be interesting to see whether consumers are willing to pay up for those offerings given a lack of big-name publishers for Arcade and a relatively small content library for TV+.
"We think Apple could look to perhaps bundle its Apple TV+ offering (for instance, alongside Apple Music) at a discounted rate to spur new subscribers," Zino wrote. He'll be looking for launch-date information on both TV+ and Arcade.
Read: Apple has committed more than $6 billion to original content ahead of streaming launch, says report (link)
When it comes to the iPhone, Zino expects the company to keep its sizes and prices constant. Apple currently offers the 6.1-inch iPhone XR for a starting price of $749, the 5.8-inch iPhone XS for $999, and the 6.5-inch iPhone XS Max for $1,199. Refreshed versions likely promise a faster processor across all models and a triple-lens camera for the two more expensive versions, according to Zino. The upcoming low-end model may again feature an LCD screen, but this might be the last time Apple goes with LCD technology in one of its new phones.
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Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives expects Apple to highlight the upgraded camera technology as well as new artificial-intelligence capabilities in the devices. Video and the device's construction could also be used as selling points.
"The video capability on iPhone 11 Pro versions will be significantly stepped up with real-time re-cropping technology that appears to be quite impressive in our opinion," he wrote. "The shatter-resistant technology should improve durability of the iPhone 11 and will be another selling feature for upgrades."
Ives also thinks Cook may tease the next version of the AirPod wireless earphones, which could be waterproof and due out around the holidays.
Apple is scheduled to hold its fall "special event" at 1 p.m. Eastern time on Sept. 10. Its stock has climbed 35% so far this year, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average , of which it is a component, has risen 15%.
-Emily Bary; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com
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