There have been rumors of a few different Apple devices coming in the first half of the year, many of which have come from noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Now he’s back with another projection that we should be seeing new gear sooner rather than later.
The smaller iPhone returns
First off, we have the expected iPhone SE replacement that is scheduled for release in March. The 4.7″ iPhone 8 update falls right into the original window of the SE and once again balances out the iPhone release schedule a bit. This should become a great option for those who prefer a smaller smartphone with premium specs, as it will come with the same A13 found in the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro.
Tag, you’re it
There were mounting reports that Apple’s new tracking devices, likely called AirTags, were going to be released alongside the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro to go with their new Find My app. All of the hooks for such a product were there, as well as code referring to them, but no product to go with it. Then it was thought they might show up later in the year along with the new 16″ MacBook Pro and Smart Battery Cases. Wrong again.
Well, here we are at the next release window. There haven’t been any rumors of design or engineering disasters like with the AirPower. The features are all there and waiting for something to use them. I can’t imagine AirTags missing the boat this time.
Speaking of AirPower
It seems that Apple hasn’t completely let go of the idea of making their own wireless charger. They have let go of the idea of trying to push the envelope to the limits of what existing wireless charging tech can stand, though. Mr Kuo simply suggests that a small wireless charger is coming from Apple, but that’s all we really know for now.
If this is true, it’s a good thing, in my opinion. I prefer to see Apple being practical and dialing back from a design goal that was too ambitious. While I love it when Apple pushes the boundaries and does something great, that isn’t how things line up with every product. Now isn’t the time for AirPower. It’s just time for a really good charger that works perfectly with Apple’s products.
The keyboards are coming!
Apple’s 16″ MacBook Pro drew highly positive reviews, primarily for the fact that it is the first model in a few years to come with a better keyboard. The addition of the scissor mechanism from the Magic Keyboard has removed the biggest issue most users had with the MacBook Pro. Sure, there will still be complaints about the lack of port options, but these laptops are still quite usable with the necessary dongles and adapters. There are plenty of documented cases of the butterfly keyboards being anything but.
Now it falls to Apple to get this keyboard rolled out across its MacBook lineup. According to Kuo, the 13″ MacBook Pro is coming first and soon. The quicker the better.
And the Beat goes on
When I purchased and reviewed the Beats Solo Pro that came out last Fall, I assumed they were the high-quality headphones that were originally rumored to be released with Apple’s branding. The sound quality and features certainly seemed to fit, as they have the same noise cancellation capabilities as the AirPods Pro, only better because they completely cover the ear. I wore them on a two hour drive yesterday and they are incredibly good at reducing 70-80 db of road noise to a barely noticeable background hum.
It seems that the rumors of an Apple-branded set of cans is back, thanks to Kuo. All I can say is that, if they are better than the Solo Pros, they will be pretty damn good. Maybe they will be over the ear, where the Solo Pros are smaller on ear phones. Whatever they are, if Kuo is correct, I know I’ll be buying and trying.
Back and forth
When it comes to new iPad Pros, Mr Kuo and other prognosticators can’t seem to make up their minds. First it was last Fall. Then it was this Spring. There was a rumor about Apple possibly releasing an updated 12.9″ with a Mini-LED screen this Fall. I wondered if that was a prediction of a possible split release schedule. Now that rumor has fallen silent and Kuo is back to predicting a Spring release. That is certainly fine with me.
As for what’s supposedly coming, that’s all very familiar from previous reports. A triple lens camera with Time of Flight for use with Augmented Reality applications. New processor. As for the new Mini-LED screen, I don’t think that would be ready so early, so who knows on that score.
We have also had some previous reports of a new Smart Keyboard Folio with a scissor keyboard. Considering that the previous model won’t be compatible with a bigger camera module, a new Folio of some type will be necessary. Hopefully we will get the improved keyboard with backlight, rather than just a simple refresh.
Based on all this, it sounds like Apple is about to have a very busy Spring. We should know soon just how much of this will pan out, as supply chain rumors will certainly surface for hardware that begins mass production. That always leads to leaks. And we should hear about an event sometime in the next five to seven weeks, depending on when in March it will fall.
Speaking of supply chains, it’s hard not to turn attention to the impact of the Coronavirus on all this. It will certainly slow things down, but Kuo predicts that it will have more of an impact on releases later in the year than the ones discussed above. As much as I love my Apple products, my concern here isn’t for release schedules, though. It is for the millions of people who’s lives are potentially in jeopardy because of the spread of this new virus through China. I hate to end on such a somber note, but sometimes a little perspective is in order. If doing the right thing means slowing down device production or pushing release dates back, so be it.