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Apple has unveiled the iPhone 7, revealing several expected changes - including water-resistant features and the absence of a dedicated headset jack - marking an evolution rather than any kind of stunning breakthrough for the flagship smartphone line.
The official announcement at Apple's San Francisco event Wednesday comes after weeks of leaks and speculation about the next iPhone. Instead of a headphone jack, the iPhone 7 will use Apple's proprietary Lightning charging port to connect a headset (included with the smartphones); alternatively users also can connect to wireless earbuds via Bluetooth, and the iPhone 7 will also include an adapter to connect to analog headphones.
Apple also is introducing AirPods, new wireless earbuds that will be sold separately, which lets users access Siri with a double-tap. The company's Beats division is launching Beats Solo3 and Powerbeats3 and the new BeatsX wireless headphones with the iPhone 7.
The reason Apple is eliminating the traditional headphone port "comes down to one word: courage, the courage to move on to do something that betters all of us," said Phil Schiller, Apple's senior VP of worldwide marketing. He noted that the change reduces the components required in the iPhone 7.
However, on the water- and dust-resistant features, Apple is playing catch-up. Major rival Samsung Electronics has highlighted the waterproof features of its Galaxy S7 Android-based smartphones, which can sustain being submerged for up to 30 minutes in five feet of water. Apple says the iPhone 7s are "splash, water and dust resistant," but they aren't designed to withstand immersion in water.
The iPhone 7 (with a 4.7-inch screen) and the larger-size iPhone 7 Plus (with a 5.5-inch screen) will begin shipping on September 16 in 29 countries.
The iPhone 7 has double the amount of storage, from 16 gigabytes to 32 GB. The iPhone 7 Plus has 32 GB. Both are available with 128 GB and 256 GB of storage (and the new jet-black finish is available only on those higher-end models).
"It's the best iPhone we've ever created," chief executive Tim Cook said on stage, using pretty much the same lines that he has with past launches. "It makes all the things you do every day so much better."
Apple also said a Super Mario game was coming to the new phone and Pokemon Go would feature on its upgraded Apple Watch.
Apple typically gives its main product, which accounts for more than half of its revenue, a big makeover every other year and the last major redesign was the iPhone 6 in 2014.
Apple said its Apple Watch Series 2, with a swim-proof casing, will be available in more than 25 countries starting on September 16.
The company also launched a new version of the device called the Apple Watch Nike+, in partnership with the athletic goods manufacturer Nike Inc, featuring GPS so athletes can track their runs.
Shares of Fitbit Inc, which makes activity-tracking bands, fell 2% on the emergence of such a high-profile competitor.
- Reuters and Variety