History as a guide
In a typical year, Apple holds a heavily-hyped in-person event just after Labor Day in the United States, a holiday that's always on the first Monday of September. This was true last year when the company announced the iPhone 11 on September 10, and in 2018 when the iPhone XS debuted on September 12.
You'd have to go back to 2011 to find a year when the company didn't meet the press in September. Nine years ago, the iPhone 4s was launched on October 4, one day before the death of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.
With Labor Day on September 7 this year, September 10 sounds about right for this year's event with one possible caveat.
The week of September 7 sounds about right for this year's iPhone event. Thursday, September 10, not so much. The last eight September events were held on a Tuesday or Wednesday, but never a Thursday.
Of course, 2020 is never going to be remembered as a normal year. No one with a press badge is being invited physically to the Apple campus anytime soon. And just like the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) keynote in June, Apple's fall event is likely to be recorded. In other words, Tim Cook and Company could technically imagine a world without the pandemic and hold an event on Tuesday, September 8, or Wednesday, September 9, but not release the tape until Thursday, September 10.
What's probably going to happen
We've heard for months this year's iPhone lineup probably won't arrive in stores until October or November, primarily due to COVID-19. If correct, one would think it's highly unlikely Apple would hold a media event (recorded or otherwise) in mid-September, then force would-be customers to wait four-to-six weeks to place an order.
Funny, but you only have to go back three years to see this exact type of scenario play out.
In 2017, Apple held its iPhone X event on September 12. On that day, it also announced the iPhone 8/8 Plus, Apple Watch Series 4, and Apple TV 4K. It wasn't until October 27 when the iPhone X first went on sale and not until November 3 when the handset arrived in stores. The iPhone 8 series, by contrast, went on sale on September 22.
Do you want further proof Apple sometimes makes us wait for new goodies? Two years ago, the iPhone XS/XS Max and iPhone XR were announced on September 12. Though the iPhone XS series got a September 21 sale date, the iPhone XR didn't arrive until October 26.
Nine days ago, Apple leaker Jon Prosser opined that this year's iPhone would be held the week of October 12th, with preorders for the iPhone 12 models starting the same week. He also said iPhone 12 Pro models wouldn't be available until November.
What about September? According to Prosser's contacts, a new Apple Watch and iPad could be announced via press releases the week of September 7th.
What's the date, Bryan?
If Apple doesn't plan on releasing any new iPhone models until October, Prosser's prediction makes sense. After all, the one thing 2017 and 2018 have in common is that at least one handset was released in September of each year, even though there was a delay elsewhere in the iPhone lineup.
Under this scenario, September would be a great time to announce and release an "Apple Watch Series 6," and updated iPad tablets. It could then wait until October to hold a glitzy virtual press event to announce the four long-rumored iPhone 12 models and also reveal the world's first Mac with Apple Silicon, which the company said would be coming this fall.
The bottom line
If an iPhone launches in stores next month, expect a press event sometimes during the week of September 7th. Otherwise, hang tight until October and save your money for a little bit longer. Of course, with rumors buzzing October is also when Amazon holds its COVID-delayed Prime Week for 2020, that money won't be in your hands for long!