It may have taken longer than expected (the event took place in March in the past), but Apple announced the unveiling of its spring product this week. Company executives will take the stage in a live stream from Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, where they will introduce and discuss new products that Apple plans to bring to market in the near future.
As has become customary, we’ll do our best to outline what you should or shouldn’t expect in terms of unveiling announcements.
While each Apple event’s associated image and name — it’s called “Spring Loaded,” and you can see the image above — can sometimes (not always) act as a teaser of sorts for what kind of announcements will be coming, the name does. not that. don’t tell us much this time. That said, the scribbled lines that make up the Apple logo above look like the work of an Apple Pencil, one of the most important accessories for the iPad.
And indeed, all signs point to this being an iPad-centric event. So let’s start there.
If there’s one product we’re relatively certain we’ll see on April 20, it’s a new iPad Pro.
Rumor has it that the new iPad Pro will come in the same two sizes as before — 11 and 12.9 inches — and there won’t be many, if any, visible design changes. So what will be new?
Well, for starters, the new tablets will definitely feature a new system-on-a-chip from Apple with an updated CPU, GPU, Neural Engine, and so on. We don’t know what it will become, although “A14X” seems like a strong possibility given the naming conventions of the past. Reports say it will be similar in at least some respects to the M1 processor Apple put in low-end Macs last year, but we’re not exactly sure what that means yet.
In any case, the Pro will definitely offer improved performance for games and creative apps. We’ll have to wait and see how big that performance bump is.
Below: Photos of the iPad Pro 2020 from our review. The new iPad Pro is expected to look the same.
Perhaps the bigger story is that the 12.9-inch iPad Pro (and not the 11-inch, apparently) will have a new display technology: Mini LED. It will still have an LCD screen, but this new approach will allow for better contrast, among other things. Mini LED has already started shipping in high-end 4K TVs.
However, Mini LED panel deliveries may be limited, so the 12.9-inch model may be hard to get your hands on for a while if this rumor is true.
Apple can also choose to update the cameras in the iPad Pro, and a third-generation Apple Pencil accessory isn’t out of the realm of possibility. In fact, that’s the only possible hint we can imagine coming from the event’s name – there have been rumors of spring-loaded components making their way into future Pencil designs.
The iPad mini hasn’t been updated in a while and it shows. The design of the product is old at the moment, with huge bezels that waste a significant amount of the device’s limited space rather than the better screen-to-body ratio seen in other recent iPads. The story is better regarding the internals, but it’s still worth noting that the A12 chip in the device will be 3 years old this year.
Since Apple has more recently updated the other iPads in the lineup, the iPad mini is the only non-Pro iPad we see as a possibility for this event. That said, we’re not quite sure what to expect from it.
Below: The current iPad mini, from our most recent review. That’s some chunky bezels by today’s standards.
If Apple updates it, the mini will likely have a more recent chip — most likely the A14 we saw in the iPhone lineup last year. But what we’re really hoping for is a redesign that increases the screen size without changing the actual footprint of the device.
It’s also possible that Apple could add support for a newer, better version of the Apple Pencil, as the current mini only supports the previous version.
Apple Silicon Macs
We think this event will primarily focus on the iPad, but Apple committed last summer to update its entire Mac product line to replace Intel’s chips with Apple Silicon within two years from that date. It’s almost a year later, and so far Apple has just updated the low-end configurations of the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini.
Several reports have claimed that Apple plans to introduce more advanced MacBook Pro models and a new iMac this year, with the Mac Pro desktop tower getting an Apple Silicon refresh sometime in 2022. There’s also talk of a redesigned MacBook Air, though that computer already got the M1 treatment last year.
Most of those reports have said the MacBook Pro and Air are slated for the second half of the year, so if we see a new Mac at this event (that’s certainly not a given, to be clear), it could be a new one. iMac.
It is believed that Apple is working on a completely redesigned iMac with more screen space, a different body shape, Apple Silicon and other improvements.
Below: The M1-equipped Mac mini from our review from last year.
We’re just speculating here, but it’s possible Apple will do the same thing it did last year with the laptops: start with an M1-equipped low-end iMac before releasing a much faster high-end model with an “M1X”-type chip. alongside the new MacBook Pro models later. But we don’t know for sure.
It seems worth mentioning that Apple has just discontinued the iMac Pro, which could be read as a hint that a major, high-quality update to the standard iMac is just around the corner to take its place. But we’re not quite sure of that reading, because the current specified standard Intel iMac already matches or beats the languishing iMac Pro.
Whatever form it takes, a new iMac can be accompanied by a new Apple-designed display that offers some of the benefits of the professional studio-focused Pro Display XDR, but at a more consumer-friendly price. Apple has designed and sold excellent consumer desktop monitors, but in recent years it has been working loosely with LG, which makes Mac-centric monitors that are variants of the South Korean company’s other products.
We don’t know what a new Apple monitor would look like at this stage, but we hope it will be a triumphant return on that front.