What to expect from Apple's iPhone 6S event

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Tomorrow CEO Tim Cook will take the stage and Apple will (almost certainly) announce new iPhones, iPads and a revamped Apple TV(Credit: simulated/remixed image)

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If you're a big Apple fan, then you could look at tomorrow as the kick-off of a holiday season. The company will announce new iPhones (among other things), followed by the familiar rituals of either pre-ordering or waiting in line at an Apple Store; the festivities will culminate with the unwrapping of the new products. Whether you're a hardcore Apple fan or just a mildly curious observer, let's take a quick look at what the rumor mill is forecasting for tomorrow's big event.

You can bet that the centerpiece of Apple's event will be new iPhones. This is an S-series year (same exterior, with internal upgrades), so assuming Apple sticks with its familiar naming conventions, then we'll be looking at the "iPhone 6S" and "iPhone 6S Plus."

Noted source of Apple rumors 9to5Mac has published numerous leaks on the upcoming iPhones, painting a specific picture of what to expect. According to those leaks, the new models will look exactly like the iPhones 6 and 6 Plus, but will have upgraded A9 chips, better cameras and a next-gen version of the Force Touch tech that we saw on the Apple Watch and new MacBooks.

The pressure-sensitive tech on those products can differentiate between two different touches – a regular touch and a touch with pressure. But the version in the new iPhones (perhaps called "3D Touch") will reportedly discern among three pressure levels: tap, press and deeper press.

Similar to Force Touch on the Apple Watch's display and latest MacBooks' trackpads (above), the deeper touches on the iPhones will bring up menu options that would usually require extra taps. Examples include Force Touching a point on a map to immediately navigate to that spot, or deep-pressing on the Phone app icon to jump straight into the voicemail tab.

The new iPhones' rear cameras will also reportedly get their first resolution bump since the iPhone 4S in 2011, jumping from 8 MP to 12 MP, along with other improvements in image quality. The camera is also rumored to get 4K video recording capabilities.

Higher-resolution photos will make zoomed and cropped shots look sharper, but the resulting bigger files from both stills and videos could cramp an already dicey storage situation if Apple sticks with 16 GB in the entry-level iPhones.

That 16 GB tier is already pretty tight for many iPhone owners, as app file sizes have grown through the years; the larger camera files could only accentuate that. If Apple does indeed stick with 16 GB in its base models, this could be a selling point for rivals like Samsung that start at the 32 GB tier in their latest flagships.

In past years Apple has launched iPads at a separate October event, but this year it looks like Apple will be lumping them into the iPhone event. Expect a 12.9-inch iPad Pro, the closest thing to a Surface Pro rival Apple has made, along with the real iPad mini upgrade we didn't get last year.

The iPad Pro is rumored to be a rethinking of the iPad, giving it more of a productivity focus that will pit it almost directly against MacBooks. The large screen can reportedly run two full-sized apps side-by-side (or at least apps that would be full screen on a 9.7-inch iPad), and the device will have optional keyboard and stylus accessories. It's also expected to include Force Touch tech, which its stylus will play nicely with.

The iPad Pro could not only give the iPad a renewed focus in commercial/industrial settings; it could also make Apple's tablet more of a PC replacement than ever before.

As for the iPad mini 4, expect (more or less) an iPad Air 2 in mini form. Last year's iPad mini 3 was basically a throwaway update, just an iPad mini 2 with a Touch ID sensor. But the new model is expected to get lighter and thinner (matching the iPad Air 2's razor-thin build), while adding either an A8- or A9-series system-on-a-chip.

With the first-gen Apple Watch having just launched earlier this year, it isn't surprising that the rumor mill isn't expecting new wearables this week, though Apple could make a quick mention of new band options.

The Apple TV is likely to get its biggest update yet at tomorrow's event, with the addition of apps, a faster A8 chip and a new remote control (including touchpad and microphone for Siri control) along with a new focus on gaming, including the support of third-party MFi controllers.

As a set-top box, the Apple TV has more competition than ever, with Roku, Amazon and Google all competing for your TV and movie streaming needs. But the new Apple TV could be just as much a rival to the PS4 and Xbox One – albeit a lower-cost, lower-powered rival.

On the software front, Apple will almost certainly recap the final features in iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan, with public releases quite possibly happening later in the day.

As always, you'll want to take the rumor mill with a few healthy grains of salt, though it's also worth noting that there have been very few major surprises from Apple's events in the last few years. Stay tuned to Gizmag for coverage of Apple's biggest announcements on Wednesday.

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