Everything is up in the air right now when it comes to Apple’s plans in the midst of the ongoing global health pandemic, and the company has already told investors that this year’s iPhone won’t be coming until “a few weeks later” — which almost certainly means October — but what’s still not clear is when Apple may choose to hold an event to actually unveil the new device.
For the past few years, Apple has pretty much always had its primary iPhone models available within two weeks of their announcement. In fact, the last time it didn’t at least open preorders within three or four days was over ten years ago, with the iPhone 4 in 2010, which was announced at the WWDC keynote before going on sale only 17 days later.
Since then, however, you could pretty much mark your calendar by Apple’s iPhone events — once the date of the event was announced, the iPhone would become available for pre-order the Friday following the event, with the new models hitting store shelves a week later. The only blip in that otherwise clockwork schedule was in 2015, when the iPhone 6s didn’t go on sale until 16 days after the September 9th event, although even that year pre-orders still opened three days after the event on September 12th.
However, we also haven’t seen an iPhone lineup entirely pushed back into October since the iPhone 4S of 2011, at which time Apple also delayed its iPhone launch event accordingly, and no one can deny that these are difficult times, so it wouldn’t be unusual for Apple to make a shift in how and when it chooses to hold its actual iPhone event.
Although we’ve already heard at least one rumour that Apple was indeed planning to delay the whole thing until October, that same report also suggested that Apple would still release the new Apple Watch Series 6 and at least one new iPad model in early September, simply via press release, leaving the October event to focus entirely on the iPhone 12.
While that certainly wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibility, we’d still put at least equal odds on Apple holding a September event as scheduled — online only, of course — and it looks like Apple may have actually slipped those details out last night on its YouTube channel.
As MacRumors and 9to5Mac both discovered, Apple briefly posted a test stream on YouTube for an event that conspicuously listed a date of September 10th, which naturally got people’s motors running with speculation about what Apple could be up to. Although the company pulled the testing stream offline very quickly, that didn’t happen before dozens of users on Twitter and Reddit were able to capture screenshots.
What’s in a Date?
To be clear, this is the only indication we’ve heard so far that Apple could be planning to hold an event on September 10th, and since Apple was only testing the stream there’s absolutely no reason to believe that this was the real date for it.
In fact, there are actually several reasons to be skeptical. For one, last year’s iPhone event was held on Sept. 10, 2019, making it seem likely that perhaps Apple’s media team simply reused the old date from last year’s stream, or simply entered it as a placeholder for the test.
September 10th is also a Thursday this year, and it’s extremely rare for Apple to hold media events on Thursday — of the 33 Apple events held over the past decade, only three have been held on Thursdays: Apple’s special event to unveil “iPhone OS 4” on April 8, 2010, the release of the iPad Air 2, third-generation iPad mini, and iMac 5K on Oct 16, 2014, and the MacBook Pro event on Oct 27, 2016.
Further, although there is precedent for Apple announcing some iPhone models with a longer lead time, that hasn’t happened for the entire iPhone lineup since the very early days of the iPhone — the original iPhone and the iPhone 3G the following year.
In more recent years, only the “alternate” iPhone models have been delayed, with the iPhone X pushed back into November in 2017, following the release of the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus on schedule, and then the iPhone XR getting an October release on the heels of the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. In this case Apple needs to hold its iPhone event for the models that it is releasing right away, and if it’s doing that anyway, it makes sense to announce the entire lineup.
While there are rumours that suggest that Apple will still release the Apple Watch Series 6 and at least one new iPad in early September, there’s really no reason these couldn’t both be pushed out by press release. No iPad has been announced on stage since the 2018 iPad Pro, and for the past couple of years, most of the big news about the Apple Watch is found in watchOS, not so much in the hardware. It also makes sense that Apple would want to release at least some new hardware in September before the end of the fiscal quarter.
That said, however, we’re still living in a time when anything can happen, so while we wouldn’t make too much of September 10th as a date, we can’t entirely rule out the possibility that Apple may still decide to hold a September event.