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What to expect from Apple’s iPhone X event — and what we still don’t know

New phones, new Watch — what else?

Apple SVP Phil Schiller
What is up Phil Schiller’s sleeve?
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Apple is hosting its most important event in years today. (Want to watch live? Here’s how.)

The company is expected to unveil several new gadgets, including a new flagship iPhone, supposedly called the iPhone X. It will be the first keynote event Apple hosts in its new Steve Jobs Theater, part of its new Apple Park headquarters.

And after rebounding from a slump in sales, this is Apple’s chance to show it can still make the best stuff, while also driving its revenue growth streak.

Here’s what to look for — and some questions we have:

Some new iPhones, including a fancy, high-end “iPhone X”

The most anticipated part of the keynote will be the reveal of the new flagship iPhone, which — according to a rare, massive software leak — will be called the iPhone X.

This is likely going to be a gorgeous device — almost all screen, with super thin borders. With no home button, it will dramatically change the way you use an iPhone — gestures will replace tapping the home button, and a new “Face ID” system will use your face to unlock the phone. It’s expected to be expensive, and in short supply.

  • What colors will Apple offer? Will it be made of metal, ceramic, or something else?
  • Will Apple pronounce X as “x” or as “ten”? (This is, of course, the tenth anniversary of the iPhone.) Or is it possible X was a placeholder and the device is actually called something else?
  • How will Apple address the “hairline” that supposedly covers some of its screen? Will old apps look weird?
  • Will wireless charging be a feature? Will it launch immediately? Will it be a standard feature or an add-on accessory? Will it support the Apple Pencil stylus?
  • How will Apple prioritize iPhone X sales? Will loyal customers already enrolled in its iPhone Update Program get the best access to inventory?
  • Will this allow Apple to lower the price — and increase the potential market — of its new, less-high-end devices? Will they be called iPhone 8 or iPhone 7S? (Samsung, we’d note, is now on the “8” model of its devices.)

Another look at iOS 11, including AR apps and animated emoji

iOS 11 will probably launch next week as a free download.

This summer, Apple unveiled the new “ARKit” for app makers and launched the race to create the most interesting, useful and gimmicky augmented reality apps, which use the iPhone’s camera and screen to draw digital effects onto the “real world.”

With a super-thin screen border, and likely great cameras and more sensors, the iPhone X seems the perfect device to demo some of the more impressive AR apps and games that have been made so far. Expect some of these, with the context that Apple has big plans for AR but that the technology and ecosystem are just getting started.

  • Will any of these initial apps show lasting, everyday value? Or will they be the equivalent of flashlight apps? (Or worse, fart apps?)
  • Will any of the major iOS app makers — Facebook, Google, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. — launch ARKit features on Day One?
  • Where will ARKit show up in Apple’s own apps?

That iOS 11 software leak also exposed that animated emoji — or Animoji — are coming to the iPhone, and will “use facial tracking and the user’s voice to create expressive animated messages.” This could be a hit.

  • Will these only work in iMessage? Or everywhere?
  • Apple announced changes to how its photos and videos will be stored in iOS 11, plus some cool new features for Live Photos. Will key apps support the new formats? Will Android phones? Will it matter if they don’t work with websites or apps that are used to JPEGs or PNGs?

A new Apple Watch with a cellular connection

The leaked rendering of the new Apple Watch suggests it looks — and works — almost identical to the previous generations. So bands and chargers should still be compatible. Only this one will have an LTE cellular chip, so it can theoretically be used to make phone calls, hail an Uber, etc.

  • How will it work with your phone account? Supposedly it will use a virtual SIM with your same phone number. But will operators charge extra for it? Will you need a different watch if you switch phone carriers? What sort of battery life will it support?
  • Is this enough to leave your phone at home while running or running errands? What infuriating limitations will it have, beyond the general uselessness of most Apple Watch apps? Will Spotify build a streaming app?
  • Will it have any other interesting new sensors for fitness or health uses?
  • Will the watch face screen stay lit for longer — or always? Or is it still going to be off most of the time?
  • Will there be a fancy “Edition” model again this year? Will it be white ceramic again, or something else? Any interesting new watch band collaborations?

A new Apple TV that supports higher-resolution 4K video

Sounds fine.

  • Will the remote still be the same, unloved design? Or has Apple at least improved this?
  • What sort of 4K content library will Apple have at launch? Is Netflix ready? Where’s that Amazon app?
  • Anything else?

Another look at HomePod, Apple’s forthcoming home speaker

Now this could be interesting. Maybe.

Apple unveiled the HomePod — a nice-sounding internet-connected speaker, mostly for music, but also some Siri stuff — in June, and hasn’t said much about it since. We assume the company will use the spotlight of an iPhone event to provide some sort of update.

  • Is it still on track to go on sale in December? When will it ship? In what quantities?
  • What else will it do? Apple outlined a few features, namely playing music, answering questions about music, and smart-home control. But: Any other apps? Radio streaming? Audiobooks? Or will that all have to work via the iPhone for now?
  • Is that a functional screen on top, or just a fancy volume control?

What else?

  • Is that it? Or something surprising to round out the year? That’s a lot, but it is Apple.

Join us for live coverage, starting at 10 am PT, 1 pm ET.

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