Everything Apple Announced, October 2020: iPhone 12, HomePod Mini, Beats Flex

It also comes with an appealing price of just $99. With the proliferation of cheap and mid-priced smart speakers from Amazon, Google, and even Cupertino’s own AirPlay partners, Apple needs something cheaper than the $299 HomePod to entice the Pod-curious. It goes on sale on November 6.

Spherical speakers are having a moment. Just last month, Amazon unveiled a round Echo speaker, and now that Apple has embraced the sphere, we can expect dozens of others to come around as well. Google’s latest speaker, called Nest Audio, is more of a rectangular blob than a sphere, but let us not forget that Google cast the first stone in spherical smart home audio streaming device wars.

Beats Flex

The new headphones look like Beats X, but are much improved—and cheaper.

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Photograph: Beats

One of the coolest announcements Apple made today is also one that flew below the radar. It wasn’t part of the streamed presentation, but Apple has a new pair of $50 headphones called the Beats Flex. These banded Bluetooth earbuds boast a 12-hour battery life, USB-C charging, and even have something called Audio Sharing technology, which allows you to sync them up with a friend’s iPhone, iPad, or other Apple-made headphones to listen to the same music together.

iOS users will reap the benefits of Apple’s W1 chip, which allows them to pair with a single touch, but we also expect these to work great on Android with a more normal Bluetooth pairing cycle. One thing we’ve yet to hear about? Water resistance, which could make our break the decision to buy these headphones for those who take their buds on workouts.

That $50 price is important as well. Apple is no longer going to be shipping headphones in the box with the iPhone, so users will need a cheap-ish headphone option, and preferably one that’s wireless.

MagSafe Charging

Magnets are cool again.

Photograph: Apple

A newly redesigned magnet array in the iPhone 12 improves the wireless charging experience. The new sensors in the magnet stack should make it easier for the phone to recognize the charging pad when you drop it on top of one—and it means less time spent fiddling with the phone’s position until it starts charging. This new magnet array also lets the 12 connect to a series of new charging accessories, including new MagSafe charging cases and a MagSafe wallet that snap onto the back of the phone and work with wireless chargers.

Other charging news: Apple will no longer be including a charger in the box with the iPhone. Instead, the iPhone 12 will ship with a USB-C-to-Lightning cable that you can plug into any USB-C charger you have lying around. Or, you know, just go wireless.

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