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Apple has scheduled its annual iPhone debut for Wednesday September 9, a year to the day after 2014’s launch of its latest handset alongside Apple Pay and the Watch.

Invitations were sent out to members of the press and analysts on Thursday morning, California time, bearing the teaser: “Hey Siri, give us a hint”.

When asked for a “hint”, Siri responds with cryptic comments such as: “Well, I hear there’s something big happening on September 9” and “Why don’t you check a rumours blog? That’s what I do.” Fuelling the hype that inevitably accompanies any such launch, Apple fans posted quirky responses from the iPhone’s virtual assistant to social media.

Stakes are high for the new device, which is likely to go on sale in the last week of September, as Apple strives to defy slowing growth in the global smartphone market and economic uncertainty in China, its most important source of new customers.

Analysts at Morgan Stanley predict that iPhone unit sales next year will grow by just 3 per cent, compared with 35 per cent in its most recent quarter.

Unlike last year’s Silicon Valley-based iPhone 6 event, next month’s unveiling will be held at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. The large 7,000-person capacity venue is better known for concerts, playing host to musicians including Janet Jackson, Jack White and Ellie Goulding.

The venue is expected to see the debut of the iPhone 6S, which in keeping with previous “S” models is likely to see upgrades to the handset’s internal technology, such as a faster processor, while maintaining the current model’s size and design.

New features are rumoured to include the addition of “Force Touch”, where pressing harder on the iPhone’s screen will allow for new kinds of interaction, a concept first introduced on the Apple Watch. Apple-focused news site 9to5Mac suggested on Thursday that the iPhone 6S’s camera will also see a significant upgrade, with its resolution increased from 8 megapixels to 12, with 4K video capture.

The iPhone will run iOS 9, which Apple introduced in June, including a new “Proactive” personal assistant to bolster Siri’s capabilities, improved maps and a new News app.

Alongside a new iPhone, the California-based technology company is expected to reveal its long-awaited revamp to Apple TV, bringing the App Store to its set-top box for the first time and introducing a new remote control. Apple has been seen as falling behind rivals such as Roku, Google’s Chromecast and Amazon’s Fire TV in the interactive television market, where it has not made significant improvements to its device since 2012.

Apple’s share price was up 3 per cent by lunchtime in New York at about $113, as it continues to rally after recent stock market concerns over its growth prospects in China that briefly saw its shares dip below $100 earlier in the week.

Earlier on Thursday, research on the market for wearable technology by analysts at IDC found that Apple Watch had leapt into second place behind Fitbit in the second quarter, ahead of rival smartwatch makers such as Samsung, LG, Motorola and Pebble.

Even though Apple Watch sales have come in lower than some forecasters had estimated, IDC found that it had taken 20 per cent of the global market for wearable devices in its first quarter of availability, just behind Fitbit at 24 per cent. Samsung’s share, however, has fallen from 14 per cent a year ago to 3 per cent in the three months ended June, according to IDC.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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