If the rumor mill is to be believed, Apple has an awful lot of new products in the works. We’re not just talking spec bumps and minor tweaks. We’re talking all-new devices such as an iPhone SE 2, while Tile-like trackers called AirTags are said to be on the way, and there’s even talk of Apple launching a redesigned 14.1-inch MacBook Pro with a new keyboard.
Some of these devices are expected to arrive later than others, but a whole heap of them are said to be just around the corner. In fact, out of the mist a date has emerged for the next big Apple event: March 31, 2020.
Every indication suggests this will be a bumper event, with a heavy focus on hardware to counterbalance Apple’s recent emphasis on its services such as Apple TV+ and Apple Arcade. Here’s everything we expect to see the Cupertino giant announce on the day.
Where and when will it happen?
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Apple has held an event in March most years since it launched the Apple Watch on March 9, 2015 (2017 is the only year since then that the company skipped the March event). In 2016, the event fell on March 21; it then occurred on March 27, 2018 and March 25, 2019. Given the pattern of the last few years, a date late in the month seems to have become a trend.
German website iphone-ticker.de bolstered that theory when it claimed that Apple had set a date of March 31 for its next event (via MacRumors). The website claimed its information came “directly from the Apple environment,” and that an iPhone SE 2 — a successor to 2016’s iPhone SE — could be launched on April 3 (more on that later).
However, the recent COVID-19 outbreak (otherwise known as coronavirus) is threatening to derail the event in its entirety. According to industry analyst Jon Prosser, Apple has canceled its March event as a precaution to prevent the spread of the virus. Santa Clara county — where the event was apparently due to be held — has reported 32 cases of coronavirus, and other tech events like Mobile World Congress and SXSW have already been called off due to its spread. Still, Prosser explains that the products Apple was planning to announce will still launch, just not at a lavish event, and presumably via press releases instead.
Whether or not it goes ahead, the event date remains unconfirmed by Apple (unsurprisingly, given the Cupertino firm never publicly confirms events in advance except through media invitations), but its March 31 date does fall within a window where we would reasonably expect an Apple event to take place. Details regarding where the Apple event will happen also remain unknown, but we can make an educated guess.
Apple held its 2015 and 2016 spring events in Cupertino, but in 2018 it switched to Chicago. It then returned to Cupertino in 2019. It therefore seems plausible that Apple would host its March 31 event at its Cupertino headquarters, specifically in the Steve Jobs Theater (the same location where it held its September 2019 iPhone event).
iPhone SE 2 resurrects an old favorite
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The original iPhone SE was a surprise hit, offering as it did a more compact screen than Apple’s other iPhones without compromising on performance. It addressed a gap in the market for a small-screen iPhone that had gone unfulfilled since Apple launched the larger iPhone 6 in 2014.
Ever since Apple discontinued the iPhone SE in 2017, there have been rumors that it’s been working on a successor, known either as the iPhone SE 2 or iPhone 9. Now, those rumors have picked up pace, with numerous reports — including from Ming-Chi Kuo — pegging the device for an early 2020 launch date. Kuo is widely regarded to have accurate, well-placed sources in Apple’s supply chain and has an excellent track record when it comes to predictions, so having his seal of approval is good news for any rumor.
Given the original iPhone SE launched with the same processor as the then-current iPhone 6s, we’d expect Apple to adopt a similar approach with the iPhone SE 2. That means an Apple A13 Bionic chip is expected (the same one that’s found in the iPhone 11 Pro), with reports claiming it’ll be housed inside an iPhone 8’s chassis with a 4.7-inch display. That’s an older design with thick bezels and a physical Home button for use with Touch ID, but its use will help bring costs down.
Speaking of the price, Kuo has predicted the iPhone SE 2 will launch at $399 for the base model. That claim was backed up by an image from Target’s internal stock system listing an “Apple iPod Touch X Generation” for $399.99, which industry analyst Jon Prosser says is “almost certainly” a new iPhone. That’s the same price that the original iPhone SE launched at and is considerably less than the starting price of the iPhone 11, Apple’s currently cheapest iPhone, which starts at $699.
As we mentioned earlier, iphone-ticker.de believes the iPhone SE 2 will launch on April 3. That’s a shorter time frame than normal — usually, Apple allows at least a week between announcing a new iPhone and its first date of availability — so the April 3 date, being just three days after the claimed March 31 event date, seems a little soon.
Doubts over that launch date were raised by Taiwanese website DigiTimes, which stated that although the iPhone SE 2 has apparently entered the final verification stage, the actual launch could be deferred until the second quarter of the year due to the recent coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak delaying components. If that’s true, it would likely miss the March 31 event.
A totally redesigned MacBook Pro 13
Photos by Riley Young
When Apple released the MacBook Pro 16 in late 2019, it received a near-rapturous reception. We declared it to be the best Mac in years, not because it did anything truly revolutionary, but because its many tweaks addressed almost all the long-standing gripes we’d previously had with Apple’s flagship laptop. The new keyboard felt superb, the speakers were fantastic, and the thinner display bezels were modern and immersive. It even had a redesigned thermal architecture that made throttling a thing of the past.
Given the positive reception, Apple would have to be daft not to bring these changes to its smaller MacBook Pro. According to a number of reports, including from DigiTimes, Apple is planning on doing just that in the first half of 2020, which could well mean an appearance at the March 31 event.
However, there’s a caveat to that. Ming-Chi Kuo recently released a report that predicted Apple will launch a 14.1-inch MacBook Pro alongside a refreshed MacBook Pro 16 in 2020. The 14.1-inch device is expected to be a redesigned MacBook Pro 13, with thinner bezels to allow for a larger display. Given that the MacBook Pro 16 has only just been released, we’d expect this dual launch to happen some time in late 2020. That means that, while a MacBook Pro may still launch at the March 31 event, it may not be the overhauled version with Magic Keyboard, thinner bezels and new cooling system, and could simply be a spec bump to the existing MacBook Pro 13.
As for the price, we’d expect the new MacBook Pro 13 to launch with the same $1,299 price tag as the current model. When Apple brought out the MacBook Pro 16, it kept the price exactly the same as the entry-level MacBook Pro 15 that it replaced, which was impressive given the new features and form factor. It’s therefore likely the company will follow suit with its next MacBook Pro.
iPad Pro with a trackpad and triple camera lens
Apple hasn’t brought out a new iPad Pro since late 2018 while other models in the iPad range have seen upgrades, so the Pro version is due for an update. The ever-reliable Kuo has predicted a refresh is coming for the iPad Pro early this year, although he’s been light on detail. According to MacRumors, the new pro-level tablet will come with a triple-camera array and feature 3D sensing for augmented reality, something Apple has made a point of supporting in its recent iPhones.
The idea of a triple-lens setup has received several boosts in recent months. First, in December 2019 iGeeksBlog released renders of an upcoming iPad Pro model with details supplied by noted leaker OnLeaks; the device had a triple-lens camera. Then, in late February 2020 another well-regarded leaker, Ben Geskin, revealed designs supposedly showing a case design for the upcoming iPad Pro. The kicker? A square camera cutout, just like that on the triple-camera iPhone 11 Pro.
But while the deluxe camera setup now looks like a dead cert, very little else has been revealed about the new iPad Pro. Other than its dimensions — which OnLeaks expects to be the same as the current iPad Pro, at least for the 11-inch model — we don’t know much else.
However, that doesn’t mean we can’t make some predictions. Apple usually debuts its new processor generations in the iPhone, followed shortly after by the iPad Pro. Given the A13 Bionic launched in iPhones in September 2019, we’d expect the A13X to come hot on its heels in the iPad Pro.
There is one more thing. One rumor that has been doing the rounds alleges that Apple is working on an iPad keyboard case that incorporates a trackpad, and this could be announced at Apple’s upcoming event. This would be a first for an Apple-made iPad case, and may suggest Apple is considering adding full mouse support to its tablets (and not just as an accessibility feature). It may also tie in with Mac Catalyst — if iPadOS developers can start building apps with mouse support, that’s one less thing for them to consider when they port their apps to the Mac.
When Apple redesigned the iPad Pro to feature a larger display, Face ID and much thinner bezels, it upped the price tag from $649 to $799 for the smaller model and from $799 to $999 for the larger model. We’d expect those new prices to remain the same for the upcoming iPad Pro, given that Apple will almost certainly keep the same low-bezel design.
AirTags to keep your items safe
In recent years, Apple has branched out from its traditional iPhone-iPad-Mac lineup and added new products to its roster, including services like Apple Arcade and Apple TV+. The latest addition in this recent trend looks to be AirTags, Apple’s Tile-like tracking device to help you find your lost items.
Unlike many Apple rumors, which are based on intangible supply chain whispers, there seems to be solid evidence for the existence of AirTags. Code in iOS 13 contained references to the tracking product, indicating it would work with Apple’s Find My app, which would let you press a button to have the AirTags emit a sound. AirTags may even work with augmented reality, whereby a red balloon would appear on your iPhone screen to indicate the position of the lost item.
The AirTags name was first spotted in iOS 13.2 code by 9to5Mac, lending further credence to the idea that Apple is indeed working on a new item tracker product. While they were at first expected to launch at Apple’s September 2019 event, that never happened, leaving March 31 as a strong possibility for their debut.
StudioPods could be an audio masterclass
Apple has long been rumored to be working on its own brand of over-ear headphones. While the company owns Beats, it doesn’t sell any over-ear cans bearing the Apple logo. Yet with it expanding more into audio in recent years, first with AirPods, then HomePod, then most recently with AirPods Pro, now could be the time for the so-called StudioPods to make an appearance.
The evidence looks good. We earlier mentioned how a leak from Target’s stock system pointed towards an upcoming iPhone SE 2 — well, that same leak hinted at a new pair of Apple headphones, too. Listed as “Apple AirPods (X Generation)” and priced at $399.99, these are almost certainly the rumored over-ear headphones.
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