Apple Skips iPhone Announcement at Its September Event, Breaking Tradition

In a significant break from routine, Apple's 2020 September Special Event did not include an announcement of the 2020 iPhones. Instead, the event focused on the new Apple Watch and iPad models. While the Apple Watch and iPad announcement times vary year by year, this is the first time since 2011 and only the second time ever that the new iPhones were not announced in the September event. The first time was in 2011 when the 4S was announced October 4 and released ten days later. This year's delay is linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, and while we're still waiting on all the most important information regarding the 2020 iPhone announcement and release, let's take a look at what we do know.

What Was Announced at the Special Event

Apple's Special Event followed June's WWDC format of an entirely virtual event. It focused entirely on the new Apple Watch and iPad models, but made no mention of the 2020 iPhones or their expected release date. This is the first time these devices have been announced before the new iPhones, and while the event stayed fast-paced and optimistic, the absence of the iPhone was felt from the moment Apple CEO Tim Cook informed us two devices would be announced during the day's event.

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Why the Delay?

Many manufacturing delays can be linked to shutdowns across Asia that happened in the spring. Though most returned to full manufacturing capacity over the summer, the effects of these shutdowns are still being felt globally. But why are iPads and Apple Watches coming our way while the iPhone lags behind? While nothing official has addressed this question, some speculate it may be due to the 5G chip that will come in the 2020 iPhones.

When Will We See the 2020 iPhones?

There was no indication in the announcement today of when the new 2020 iPhones would be announced, but rumors seem to be indicating an October announcement and a subsequent staggered release. We've seen staggered releases in 2017 and 2018, with the later released phones being released as late as October and November, but both times the announcement was made in September. 

Apple CFO Luca Maestri has said they "project supply to be available a few weeks later" than previous years, which supports the idea of an October release date. If this follows the same pattern as the 2011 announcement and release, we'll likely see at least the basic models around mid-October, but the rumored Pro and Pro Max may not reach us until November. The highly unusual format of this year's announcements is almost certainly due to COVID, so even our best guesses for announcement and release dates may be less accurate than previous years.

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Author Details

Amy Spitzfaden–Both's picture

Author Details

Amy Spitzfaden–Both

Amy Spitzfaden Both is a Feature Writer at iPhone Life, an award-winning novelist, and an iPhone enthusiast. Over the past decade, her work in the publishing industry has included live coverage of industry events including the Yale Publishing Course and Magazine Innovation’s ACT 9 Experience, providing editing services for several start-up publishing houses, and acting as newsstand consultant for magazines such as The Old Farmer’s Almanac and The New York Review of Books. She graduated from M.I.U. with a Bachelor’s in Literature and Writing, and has gone on to publish two novels and two short stories. Her debut novel Untold won the 2014 Chelson Award for Fiction.
Writing everything from book reviews to skincare tips, Amy discovered a passion for bringing exciting and useful information to even the most casual researcher. The mix of usability and endless possibilities is what drew her to Apple products originally, and the more she learns, the more she loves.
Amy lives in New Hampshire with her husband and daughter. When she’s not writing or glued to her iPhone, she enjoys hiking, traveling, and creating her own tea blends.