Apple March Event live blog: official launch event invites have dropped
It’s official: the Apple March Event has had its date confirmed for March 8, so we know this is when we’ll next see a product launch from Apple.
So what could we see at Apple’s event? Well, that’s the billion-dollar question isn’t it – Apple doesn’t provide insight into its launch events ahead of time, so it’s usually quite a surprise when we see devices unveiled.
‘Quite a surprise’ doesn’t mean total surprise, though, and we’ve got some ideas. The invites are usually used to tease new tech, and rumors and leaks sometimes lay the tech bare.
TechRadar’s offices are a flurry of excitement right now as we dig into every aspect of the invite, and we’ll be using this live blog to share every analyses, thought, and detail that enters our brains – stay tuned to this page through invite night, and up until the launch itself, for everything you need to know.
Well, invites are in, and TechRadar’s offices have become a hive of activity. Let’s start by giving you a broad overview of what we expect.
iPhone SE 3, or SE 2022
Rumors have been swirling about an iPhone SE 3 launching in early 2022, with a leaker going so far as to point the finger at March 8 a whole month ago.
This is a successor to the iPhone SE (2020), which itself was the second-gen version of the iPhone SE (2016), and this is Apple’s line of mid-range devices which sit as affordable alternatives to its flagships.
Leaks point to the iPhone SE 3 having 5G, and a newer chipset than its predecessor, but a similar design to that older device.
Apple MacBook Air (2022) with new Apple M2 chip
The Apple MacBook Air (2020) saw the debut of Apple’s new Arm-based processor technology, and it’s been nothing short of revolutionary.
Since Apple made the jump from Intel to its own big.LITTLE processor, Intel itself has made the jump to the same architecture, and even Microsoft has even been rumored to be exploring their own Arm-based chips for their Surface devices.
What didn’t change with the MacBook Air (2020), however, was the laptop’s design. That might be the biggest innovation we see next week, as we’re expecting the new MacBook Air (2022) to sport a variety of new colors similar to those we saw with the most recent 24-inch iMac (2021).
All I can say is it’s about dang time. A purple MacBook Air just might be the think that gets me to ditch Windows PCs for good. Make it happen, Apple.
iPad Air 5
The same leaker who correctly predicted that the Apple March Event would take place on the 8th, and stated that the iPhone SE 3 would be there, also pointed to another device showing up: the iPad Air 5.
This is the newest tablet in Apple’s mid-range iPad Air family, following on from the iPad Air (2020) from October 2020 – Apple generally doesn’t use a regular release cycle for these Air tablets, so its launch wouldn’t be surprising, but neither would its absence.
Leaks are relatively light on the ground for this one, but it seems like it’ll have a 10.9-inch LCD screen, the A15 Bionic chipset and 5G connectivity.
We’ve also just posted a quick guide for how to watch the Apple’s March event, so make sure you bookmark the page and follow along with us on March 8 as Apple reveals it’s latest products in its first major event of 2022.
Will we see a new 13-inch MacBook Pro with M2?
There has been a lot of speculation around the fate of the 13-inch MacBook Pro.
Last released alongside the MacBook Air in 2020, the 13-inch MacBook Pro also featured the M1 chip with a slightly larger GPU (eight cores rather than seven), and also had cooling fans so that the performance of the M1 wouldn’t be throttled under heavy workloads.
The rumor mill has been churning up news that the 13-inch Pro model will be released with the new M2 chip this year, but that it likely won’t get a full on redesign the way the MacBook Air is set to receive.
This makes sense, since the 14-inch MacBook Pro (2021) was just released late last year and features the more powerful M1 Pro and M1 Max chips. Even the M1 Pro is expected to be more powerful than the M2 chip, which is more consumer market-oriented than the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips.
This really makes the market for a 13-inch MacBook Pro much smaller, so it’s likely that the 13-inch model will get phased out in favor of the 14-inch, so it doesn’t make any sense to give it a redesign to then discontinue it right after.
Given the very colorful and segmented Apple logo of the Apple March event teaser video, though, pretty much all signs are pointing to the introduction of colorful Apple products during the event.
This could be more about the iPhone SE 3 than a MacBook product, in which case a basic space grey MacBook Pro 13-inch with M2 could be introduced instead of a colorful MacBook Air. We simply don’t know, but either outcome is possible.
Here’s something we’re expecting to drop based on precedent, even if leakers haven’t been talking about it much.
iPad Pro (2022)
Apple launched the 2020 and 2021 iPads in the first half of the year, usually at big flashy launch events, and leaks suggest a 2022 model is on the way too.
To us, that makes it sound like a new one could be on the way. We haven’t heard too many specific leaks about this new version, but we didn’t about the 2021 edition.
This is Apple’s top-end tablet, and it comes in a 11-inch and 12.9-inch version. If the new M2 chipset is shown off, the new tablets could use this.
Apple Glasses might be real
Now, after further study, we’re basically convinced that this is an Apple Glass demo, and the video was shot through the long-rumored, wearable hardware.
More evidence: Apple says “Peek,” a word that means looking at something!
Even more evidence, Apple hid an AR Easter Egg in the invite on their event page.
We now believe there’s a strong possibility that Apple might at least demo the long-hidden and never-confirmed project at its March event.
27-inch iMac with Apple M2
Part of the reason we didn’t get a 27-inch iMac last year is that the display might have just been too big for the Apple M1 to effectively power with the resolution and refresh rate that users expect.
If there’s one thing that Apple is good at, it’s not releasing a product that falls short of expectations.
An M2 chip, however, could be more than enough to give the kind of performance that customers expect out of a 27-inch iMac, which is more likely to see more professional use than the smaller 24-inch model.
The 27-inch iMac is also due for a refresh anyway, since it’s been nearly two years since the release of the last 27-inch iMac, so the typical 18-24 month cadence lines up for a March reveal.
There is still many more months left in the year, so it’s also possible that the 27-inch iMac with M2 might be announced closer to WWDC 2022 to give professional Apple developers a new tool to work with.
We actually published a piece just hours before the event invites dropped, about the iPhone SE 2022, and if it’s worth buying a 2020 model ahead of the event. You can read the entire thing here.
In short, it’s definitely worth waiting until the new device drops before considering buying a 2020 or 2022 model. At worst, you’ll just have to wait a few days, and will have a little more context for your buying decision. At best, the old model could get a big price cut, or the new device could be a lot cheaper.
What about a new Mac Pro?
Could we see a Mac Pro at Apple’s March event? While anything is possible, it’s not all that likely.
For the most part, Apple events outside of WWDC tend to be more consumer focused than outright professional gear like a Mac Pro.
The various MacBook Pro models are about as high-end as things tend to get on the consumer-facing side of things.
Still, WWDC isn’t too far off, so it’s certainly possible that Apple announces some more pro-oriented hardware ahead of the software-heavy WWDC, so a new Mac Pro making an appearance next week can’t be ruled out.
Apple M2-powered Mac Mini
The Apple Mac Mini (M1, 2020) is one of those neat little devices that no one really saw coming but which everybody could appreciate.
The small form factor makes it great for a home office while the M1 chip is powerful enough that it could easily replace a home computer or small business setup, especially if you already have a compatible monitor.
What’s more, the 2020 Mac Mini model has a very compelling starting price of just $699 / £699 / AU$1,099 for the 8GB/256GB SSD configuration, which is honestly more than enough for most people.
We would love to see Apple roll out a refresh of the Mac Mini next week with a new M2 chip, which would take the already impressive performance of the M1-powered Mac Mini and make it an even better alternative to the traditional home computer – especially if they keep it to the same starting price.
That might be too much to ask, given all the supply chain issues we’ve been seeing driving up inflation across the globe. Still, hope springs eternal.
The M1-powered Mac Mini was also released alongside the MacBook Air (M1,2020) and 13-inch MacBook Pro (M1, 2020), so whichever MacBook we end up seeing at next week’s event (we’re almost certain to see one of them, if not both), then announcing an M2-powered Mac Mini as well makes a lot of sense.
Ok, ok, but what about a new iMac Pro?
So a new Mac Pro showing up at Apple’s March event is almost certainly out of the question at this point, but what about an iMac Pro?
The iMac Pro really hugs the line between the consumer all-in-one PC and enterprise-level workstation, and so it’s the kind of computer that can catch the attention of small businesses and startups that might not have the resources yet to splurge on a full-bore Mac Pro workstation.
If you’re hoping to see something like that on March 8, we hate to say it, but you’re almost certainly going to be disappointed. The last iMac Pro came out in early 2021, so it’s a bit too soon for a refresh.
And as good as the Apple M2 is likely to be, it’s almost certainly not going to be powerful enough for all of the tasks that you’d need a professional workstation to get done.
What’s more, if you look at the typical 18-24 month product-release cadence, you’ll see that an iMac Pro will be due for a refresh towards the end of the year or early next year, which is right around the time we’d expect to see high-end Apple M2 Pro and M2 Max chips debut, especially if we push things toward 2023.
The convergence of those two is too strong for an iMac Pro to not see a late 2022/early 2023 release, but don’t hold me to that prediction. After all, Apple released an Intel-based MacBook Air in the middle of 2020, and that didn’t stop it from releasing the M1-powered MacBook Air just a few months later.
Will the M2 be more powerful than the M1 Pro and M1 Max?
Even though 2 is bigger than 1, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the M2 will be the most powerful Apple silicon around.
A good way to think about it is the way Intel identifies their mainstream Core-series processors: Core i5, Core i7, and Core i9 (Core i3 is more for low-end devices, so we’ll leave that off).
An Intel Core i5 processor is great for everyday use and general computing, and can definitely hold its own as far as midrange gaming and content creation go.
But the Core i7 is where you really start seeing some serious performance for more heavy-duty work, while the Core i9 is for top-of-the-line performance for gaming and professional content production like video editing and 3D modelling.
A good way to think of it is equating the Core i5 with the M1/M2 processors, while the Core i7 and Core i9 are more in line with the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips.
A last-gen Core i7 or Core i9 processor is typically still going to beat a current-gen Core i5 processor, so it’s very likely that the performance gains of the M2 need to be compared to the M1, rather than the M1 Pro or M1 Max.
Still, while the M1 Pro and M1 Max are still likely to be more powerful, the M2 chip should go some way towards closing that gap.
Well, that’s it for me and Lance here in New York. Check back with us bright and early London time for all the news, rumors, and analysis as we all ramp up to Apple’s March event next week.
Until then, friends, take care of each other.
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