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Will Apple Amaze on September 10?

It seems there isn’t a lot that isn’t yet known about the next iPhones, if you can believe the published reports that is. Almost every day, you see a supposedly leaked photo of what the high-end iPhone 5s, and the expected low-end version, the iPhone 5c, looks like. The specs are already being revealed, such as the claim that Apple’s alleged new A7 chip will be 31% faster than the A6 on today’s iPhone 5. You’ve also seen reports about the camera, and other internal workings.

So what’s left?

Well, the iPhone 5s will almost surely look essentially the same as the iPhone 5. That’s in keeping with Apple’s decision to make major form factor changes every other year. Certainly there’s good reason for this, one of which is that Apple can amortize development costs over a longer period, and the second benefits accessory makers, who don’t have to rejigger their designs quite as often. It also increases the market of potential customers for those accessories big time.

However, that doesn’t mean all or most of the internal components aren’t being changed. From processors to batteries, Apple could completely replace the parts to deliver better performance, improved battery life, and enhanced reliability. But lots of critics will nonetheless complain that the changes are minor. It’s all about the case; they can’t see anything beyond the spec sheet without tearing the thing apart. And that would be a stretch. Besides, such online repair portals as iFixit will do the job for them.

One possible added feature for the iPhone 5s is fingerprint recognition. This would be a safer way to lock your device against intruders. But it also brings to mind the grisly action movies where someone’s fingers, minus the rest of the body, are placed on a sensor to open a door, or activate a computer. To be serious, Apple bought a company that handles fingerprint recognition, AuthenTec, so it’s clear there’s a game plan afoot, and this seems the most logical choice.

The “lesser” iPhone 5c has also been described in a fair amount of detail, with the chatter suggesting that components will largely mirror today’s iPhone 5, which helps reduce R&D expense. Since there will supposedly be a plastic case, relying on much simpler and less expensive construction methods, the sale price may be in the neighborhood of today’s iPhone 4, about $450. But it’s also possible Apple will be able to bring the price down even further, say $349 or $399, to make the low-end iPhone a bit more palatable to people on a budget, particularly citizens of developing countries who don’t have ready access to subsidized wireless plans.

All this and more has already been published. The new mobile, OS, iOS 7, has already been demonstrated, and developers have revealed the ongoing changes from beta to beta. We appear to be in the final stages ahead of release.

So what does Apple do to surprise anyone?

I suppose Apple could deliver more standard storage. Go to 32GB for the low-end, and offer 64GB and 128GB options, but not $100 extra for each step; maybe $50. The existing price structure is a rip-off when you consider the cost of raw materials, which continues to decline. Apple shouldn’t rely on obsolete solid state storage price schemes, despite the higher profit margins.

Perhaps the main surprise would be to deliver unexpected product introductions. There’s talk that the new iPads are being rushed for launch on September 10th. That seems ahead of the game, but with iPad sales apparently declining, it’s a great way to boost sales. However, The Loop’s Jim Dalrymple has already shot down this rumor. He’s well-connected, so take him seriously.

There’s also more talk, yet again, about an iWatch, even with preliminary sales projections. That’s a stretch for a product not yet announced. One report dares to suggest that the iWatch would replace the iPod, but that doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense. iPod sales may be on the decline, but tons of them are still being sold, particularly the iPod touch. However, recent rumors suggest you want see an iWatch or some other Apple wearable appliance until the latter half of 2014.

One reason to take the iWatch concept seriously is because Apple has trademarked the name in some countries. That lends more credibility than reports of allegedly hiring people to work on the project. That a new gadget is under development doesn’t mean that it will ever see the light of day.

But it would be curious for Apple to throw everything at the wall for a single pre-fall media event. Better to stretch it out, perhaps with another event in October to focus on Macs, particularly the launch of the overhauled Mac Pro. Other Macs could be refreshed at the same time, and it might be a suitable place to release OS X Mavericks.

What’s left? Other than some unknown product that might be revealed somewhere along the line, there is the Apple TV and the rumors of an Apple branded TV set. That could fuel yet another media event in early November, just about in time to fuel holiday sales. And don’t forget the iPad.

Yet I still wonder if, after all the rumors and allegedly informed speculation, Apple’s expected September 10 media event may be slick and all,  the products will be terrific, and sales will soar. But with so much already out there, what’s left? It’s a sure thing, though, that Apple’s critics will be out in full force. Take that to the bank.