Apple iPhone X Costs $999, Sets Path for Smartphones' Next Decade

By Tripp Mickle Features Dow Jones Newswires

CUPERTINO, Calif. -- Apple Inc. on Tuesday unveiled upgraded versions of its existing iPhones as well as a new smartwatch capable of connecting to cellular networks for calls, messages and streaming music.

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The iPhone 8 and the larger iPhone 8 Plus boast a new design with glass on the front and back of the devices, and features including louder speakers, faster processors, and improved cameras. It also has new gyroscopes and accelerometers to enable augmented reality functions.

The Apple Watch Series 3 will have an LTE chip that enables it to connect to the fastest cellular networks for many of the same functions the iPhone offers. Its predecessor, the Apple Watch Series 2, acted more like a remote control for the iPhone, using Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to fetch email, messages and other data from the handset.

The Apple Watch will feature new chips and new antenna. Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams said it is the same size as its predecessor.

The new Watch costs $399 with cellular capability, or $329 without. It looks similar to its predecessor, except for a red accent on a knob on the right side of the device. The Apple Watch Series 2 will be reduced in price to $249.

AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon will offer cellular Apple Watch Series 3 devices in the U.S., with availability beginning Sept. 22.

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The announcements came at Apple's annual product showcase, held for the first time at Steve Jobs Theater on a new $5 billion campus. The highly-anticipated event is expected to be punctuated by the release of a new, pricier iPhone -- expected to be dubbed the iPhone X -- with facial recognition and other more advanced features than the iPhone 8.

Investors, betting the new phone will rejuvenate Apple's sales after a recent slump, have pushed Apple's share price to record highs in recent months. The company also announced Apple TV 4K, capable of streaming ultra-high definition video to compatible televisions, bringing the device in line with competing products from Roku and Amazon.com Inc.

The update to Apple's streaming-media player is the first since 2015 and comes as the device has lost market share to lower-priced rivals. Apple Vice President Eddy Cue said Apple will sell ultra-high definition films from Hollywood studios at $19.99, the same price it currently offers high-definition films. There also will be live sports in 4K from ESPN and others.

The Apple Watch Series 3 has the potential to extend recent sales gains by boosting the device's functionality, analysts said. The cellular capabilities allow people to leave their iPhones behind and still send and receive emails and messages by using Siri's transcription abilities. Users with AirPods wireless headphones could also make and receive calls using just the watch.

Apple has sold an estimated 30 million Apple Watches since introducing the device in 2015, according to market research by IDC. The addition of Global Positioning System (GPS) and waterproof capabilities introduced with last year's Apple Watch Series 2 has the company on track to boost sales nearly 25% this year.

Investors have been tracking the Apple Watch's evolution closely as it has the potential to diversify Apple's revenue, two-thirds of which comes from iPhone sales. To date, Apple hasn't disclosed sales of the Watch, which was its first all-new product released under Chief Executive Tim Cook, and some detractors have said sales were stymied because the initial version lacked purpose.

Last year, Apple shifted its focus around the Watch to emphasize its ability to track runs, walks, swims and other fitness activities. The marketing around the first iteration of the Watch had focused on the device as a fashion accessory.

Write to Tripp Mickle at Tripp.Mickle@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 12, 2017 15:14 ET (19:14 GMT)