It starts with the picture of the sky, or a scene of the apple orchard in Apple Park. With impressive technical special effects wizardry, we are transported into the Steve Jobs theater where the hall is dimmed and the stage is lighted up. Tim Cook comes to the stage with rigor, shouts “Good Morning!”. And the show officially starts.
Apple would hold an event every season to showcase their latest and greatest product or service. For the spring season, it is highly anticipated that Apple will held an event in early March (speculation says March 8). We explore what to expect in Apple’s March Event 2022.
- Apple hold an event showcasing new products and services for every season
- For spring, signs points to March 8
- iPhone SE 3 might be launched. No expectations for this.
- Expect a refreshed Mac Mini with new design an M1 Pro / M1 Max chip on board
- Expect the M2 SOC, the successor to the M1 SOC to be unveiled
- Expect the MacBook Air, Mac Mini and MacBook Pro 13” to be unveiled
- Expect the MacBook Air to be a refreshed design to follow the iMac 24” design
- Expect the MacBook Pro 13” to have the same design like last year.
- Expect a refreshed iPad Air but with the same design to be unveiled
- Possible other things to expect: AirPod Pro, AirPod Max, HomePod, other services.
iPhone SE 3
The iPhone SE is Apple’s entry level smartphone geared towards people who need the cheapest iPhone on the market or companies that need to provide iPhone for employees as an internal tool or communication device. With deals that allow you to buy the phone at $5 / month, the iPhone SE is the phone for people who need an iPhone, not want the iPhone.
There are multiple reasons why Apple would field a $400 iPhone: to get the low-end of the market covered, a cheap developer’s phone, to make the iPhone 13 a “good” buy. But ultimately, the iPhone SE is good for Apple because it extends the production line of the iPhone X generation. You see, the iPhone SE always used the last generation production line, but fitted with the latest tech at the time. The first iPhone SE is an iPhone 6s inside an iPhone 5 body. The iPhone SE 2 is an iPhone 11 inside an iPhone 8 body. So logically speaking, the iPhone SE 3 will be an iPhone 13 inside an iPhone X body. Apple basically uses the same production line of the iPhone X since 2016/2017 to make the iPhone SE 3.
So based on the iPhone X or Xs, the iPhone SE 3 would be the first SE that will have FaceID, OLED screen and dual cameras. For $400, those 3 features alone would be a game changer already. But if one would taper down expectations, the OLED screen might be an LCD one, and there would be only a single camera instead of two. And other features would be in the usual suspects: 4K video, portrait mode, 5G-capable, U1 chip and other features that might pop up in iPhone 13.
In the current iPad lineup as of February 2022, the iPad Air is the oldest designed iPad. The base iPad and iPad Mini have seen major refreshes last year, as well the iPad Pro which put the performance in desktop replacement terrority. The iPad Air is still a fine product, but compared to its siblings, the iPad Ais is due for a refresh.
The refresh iPad will not have a redesign, but an internal refresh. This is because the iPad Air and iPad Mini follow the design for the big brother iPad Pro. If there’s a new design for the higher end line of iPads, it would go through the flagship product, which is the iPad Pro.
As for the spec, expect the new iPad Air would use the current A15 chip. The M1 would be nice on the iPad Air, but the iPad Pro was overkill with the M1, it would be double overkill on the iPad Air. MiniLED would be nice on the iPad Air, but don’t expect it since the 11-inch iPad Pro does not even get it. FaceID would be a great welcome addition but do not expect it since it would be too close to the iPad Pro. Expect new colors though.
The most anticipated move is Apple’s follow up on the M1 SOC. When Apple announced that they will be moving away from Intel to their own solution called Apple Silicon, few doubt that Apple could do it, but many doubt how good the new processors will be. The M1 landed in November and blew everyone’s mind away. It even put a sales drive on Apple’s bottom line, reporting best numbers for the Mac ever.
Now, the dust has settled, the Intel Empire strikes back and with Apple’s SOC pushing boundaries, it also creates new competitors in the form of discrete graphic makers like Nvidia and long time partner AMD. It is expected that Apple will unveil the M2 SOC, the follow up on the M1 processor, and to prove Apple’s move is the right one.
Very little is known on the M2 SOC at this point, but watching trends in the industry and also Apple, you can make an educated guess on what the M2 SOC will look like. Expect the M2 will be a tweaked version of the M1. It will retain the same amount of cores and overall design. The clock speed might bump up a little to improve performance, just like what Apple did to the A15. Since Apple’s chip foundry TSMC started to field 4nm chips like the SnapDragon 8 Gen 1, expect that the M2 would also do the name.
Architectural tweaks and a smaller manufacturing process will bump the performance around 20%. The result of the GeekBench 5 benchmark would be in the 2000 range for single thread, which is around Intel Core i9 performance. Multicore performance would be in the 10,000 range, which would be on par with i9 11th generation or even the M1 Pro 8-core version. Power efficiency is where the M2 will shine, a lot. The M2 is designed to be a low power but high performance chip and expect the M2 will pretty much keep the 10W TDP which is basically unmatched on the market.
M2 on new Macs
So with the M2 unveiled, the M2 will need to be put on new Macs naturally. Usual suspects would be the MacBook Air, Mac Mini, the 13-inch MacBook Pro and the 24-inch iMac.
New MacBook Air
The MacBook Air represents Apple’s most popular laptop, and with good reason: there is simply no product on the market that can do what the MacBook Air can do at that price point. Sure there is a more powerful laptop, but it costs more than $999. Sure there are cheaper laptops but nothing has a retina screen, battery life that is in the 20 hour range and runs without fans.
It is expected that the MacBook Air will receive a design refresh together with the M2 chip. Expect the design language will follow the iMac design language: pastel colors, white bezels around the monitor. The basic specs will retain the same: 13-inch retina display and dual USB-C ports. Other spec bumps will include a better speakers / mic combo and finally a good webcam that is fit for 2022, in the age of working from home and conference calls in the coffee shop.
Now there is speculation that the new design will entail a new price increase. With the situation in the world not-withstanding, even a juggernaut like Apple is not immune to price increase. The $999 simply the best price point because of price psychology, but with a slew of improvements that Apple wanted to put on the MacBook Air and the shortages of items around the world, it is hard for Apple to keep a $999 in the short term.
MacBook Pro 13-inch
For many, the MacBook Pro does not make a lot of sense: Too pricey for a base laptop, but not powerful enough for a “Pro” machine. The M2 MacBook Pro will be Apple’s “tweener” laptop, something to put between the best selling MacBook Air and the best performing MacBook Pro with the pro chips. The pricing is also to not put a big gulf between the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro.
Signs indicate that the MacBook Pro 13-inch will have the same design but just improved internals, i.e. the M2 SOC. It makes no logical sense for Apple to invest heavily in what constitutes a tweener product so basically the M2 MacBook Pro will basically have the same design as the M1 MacBook Pro.
The Mac Mini is the cheapest Mac that you can buy. Although it is not a best-seller, it does have it’s cult following. Other than the price, the Mac Mini has many advantages like the ability to be accessorized by plug-in a multitude of peripherals to the Mac Mini ports. It also can act as a very capable Home Theater PC, the fact that Apple tried to capitalize by introducing the Apple TV.
The Mac Mini comes in two flavors: the entry level Mac Mini in silver which currently runs the M1 chip, and the higher end space gray which runs on the Intel Core i7 chip which was last updated in 2018.
It is expected the Mac Mini will receive major updates in March 2022: first redesign in over a decade, which is very long even in Apple’s long design commitment standards. There are rumors to suggest that the Mac Mini was to be released in October 2021 together with the MacBook Pro launch, but Apple decided to delay the launch to give the MacBook Pro all the attention it needs. The new Mac Mini will retain the same footprint but will be slightly shorter and sleeker.
The new Mac Mini will be a very versatile machine: the new M2 chip or the powerful M1 Pro / M1 Max chip. Up to 64 GB of memory, with 2 TB internal storage. 10 GB networking option. 4 USB-C ports plus 2 USB-A ports. HDMI connection. Wi-Fi 6E for wireless gigabit connection. The new Mac Mini would be a perfect fit for the enthusiast who wanted a powerful Mac that they wish to customize, the developer looking for a cheap test machine, the home theater guy who wanted a streaming server or even a good render farm. Alas, the Mac Mini would be the underrated and under marketed Mac because it is the smallest margin for Apple.
Others: AirPods Pro or AirPod Max
Now here is basically the minor updates that Apple might include in the March Event:-
AirPods Pro Together with the iPhone SE 3, Apple might finally update the AirPods Pro. One of the features that is expected to have is the ability to support lossless audio, something that Apple provides in the Music app but basically none of Apple wireless products supports it.
AirPods Max The $599 AirPods Max has been released with mixed success. Reviewers praise the sound quality but there are many issues with the product, especially how it happens when the headphones are off the head. A revision would fix most issues that plague the first AirPods Max and with support of lossless audio, the AirPods Max might finally be the product that it was meant to be.
HomePod The original HomePod was a beautiful work of art. It was voice activated with a smart digital assistant, had the best speakers on the market and looked very sleek. The perfection was equaled by its monumental failure. It was priced too high and Siri wasn’t the killer product that Apple hoped for. While the more budget friendly HomePod Mini is doing far better than the original HomePod, Apple might bring back the HomePod to bolster their audio line up, which is not that great in the high end area.
Other services With Apple pivoting to services starting in 2019, it has become Apple’s second largest income streamer after the iPhone. With high margins and a very large user base, Apple is tempted to introduce or promote their services in this event. One of Apple’s potential game changer is having the ability for iPhones to accept payment directly via Apple Pay or physical card, however, such feature is not heavily promoted. This March event where the spotlight is on Apple might be a perfect venue for Apple to promote such a feature.
The first Apple event for 2022 will be a very eventful affair with a plethora of goods and services presented. A redesigned Mac line up might be a clue to future Apple products as Apple tends to design them to complement each other.
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