By Yuvraj Malik
(Reuters) - Apple on Tuesday took the wraps off newer variants of some of its best-selling devices against the backdrop of flagging discretionary spending and expanded curbs on its flagship iPhone in China.
The world's most valuable listed company will make available the new products from Sept. 22, hoping that they make it to the top of customers' wish lists during the all-important holiday shopping season.
Here are the details of the key announcements:
Apple launched iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus, sporting 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch displays, respectively, similar to their predecessors.
The higher-end iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max models, priced at $999 and $1,199, respectively, will sport an "action button" in place of the mute switch that can be customized for a variety of functions. They will use titanium instead of stainless steel for the side bars.
Apple has also switched to the USB-C charging standard from the current Lightning port, in accordance with a European law, on the new iPhones and AirPods Pro. The USB-C connectivity will make it easier for professionals to transfer high-quality video from the iPhone directly onto their hard drives.
All the new models feature a 48-megapixel main camera, with the flagship Pro Max having 5X optical zoom and 3X telephoto capability. With the Pro devices, users can record "spatial" or three-dimensional videos that could be viewed on Apple's upcoming Vision Pro headset.
The latest iPhone's satellite connectivity can now be used to summon roadside assistance, a feature launched in the U.S. in partnership with American Automobile Association.
The iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus get A16 bionic chip, while the iPhone 15 Pro and the Pro Max will be powered by the A17 pro chip. The hardware on the Pro line makes the devices suitable for high-end mobile gaming, the company said.
Apple also said the batteries of iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus, which start at $799 and $899, respectively, are made of 100% recycled cobalt.
Apple announced Watch Series 9 and the second generation of Watch Ultra, sporting the same dimensions as the previous variants.
The latest watches get the next generation S9 chip, capable of better animation and effects. It is the first processor upgrade since Apple released the Series 6 line in 2020.
New features include "double tap", a new gesture feature to control the watch without touching its face, and improved dictation and brightness.
Ultra 2 gets a new customized watch face that packs more information on workouts, and improved battery that lasts up to 36 hours on normal use and 72 hours on low-power setting.
The Series 9 starts at $399, while the Ultra 2, at $799, is priced at the same level as the earlier base model.
The Series 9 is the company's first carbon neutral product, and starting this year all watch manufacturing will be powered by 100% clean energy. Apple will also drop leather from all its products, including the watch bands.
Apple released the second-generation AirPods Pro, priced at $249, which will feature improved sound quality and double the active noise cancellation than its predecessor. It will also come in more ear tip sizes. (This story has been refiled to fix the language in paragraph 2)
(Reporting by Yuvraj Malik in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)