2021 has been relatively quiet for Apple. We’ve gotten the colorful 24-inch iMac, the fantastically improved Siri Remote, and an iPad Pro with an M1 processor and a gorgeous Liquid Retina XDR display, as well as a look at the new operating systems that are coming in the fall, but we’re still waiting for a bunch of new stuff.
AirPods (3rd generation)
We’ve expected AirPods at every Apple event for about a year now, but it looks like they’re finally coming this fall. Based on the leaks and the rumors, they’re most likely to arrive at the iPhone event. Seemingly accurate images leaked months ago showing a pair of earbuds that look a lot like the AirPods Pro, with shorter stems and a snug ear fit. Recent rumors say they won’t be getting noise cancellation, which will remain a Pro feature.
It seems strange that Apple would release a new iPad Pro with an M1 processor and eye-popping display but not have a new Apple Pencil to go with it. But from what we’ve heard and seen, a new Apple Pencil is in development with a glossy finish, though we don’t know much else about it. It’s possible that the new Pencil is actually a smaller version of the first-gen model built for the iPad mini.
14-inch/16-inch MacBook Pro
We’ve been hearing about a redesigned MacBook Pro for a while, and with the Apple silicon transition in full swing, it’s almost certain to happen this year. Apple is reportedly shipping two sizes (14 inches and 16 inches) with slimmer bezels all around while bringing back some of the things we’ve missed: HDMI, an SD card reader, more Thunderbolt ports, and MagSafe. We’re also hearing a mini-LED will be arriving and the Touch Bar will be going away. We were hoping they would arrive by WWDC, but now we’re hearing production issues have pushed it to the fall.
The Mac mini was one of the first Macs to get an M1 processor in late 2022, but Apple is planning to release another one in 2021. According to reports, it’s going to be a high-end machine, with an M1X chip and a new thinner design. It’ll also reportedly have four Thunderbolt ports, up to 64GB of RAM, and an iMac-style power cable.
No matter what else comes in 2021, the new iPhone will be the biggest launch of the year, and we already have a pretty good idea of what it will look like: basically the iPhone 12 with a smaller notch. It’ll also reportedly have a better camera, the Pros might get a 120Hz ProMotion display, and there may be an always-on display at long last as well. Assuming there aren’t any delays, expect the new iPhone in mid-September.
Apple Watch Series 7/SE
Also in the fall, we’re all but certain there will be a new Apple Watch, and this year’s release could be the biggest ever. According to rumors, Apple will redesign the Apple Watch with flat edges and a thinner body, and possibly new colors. We’ve heard rumblings of non-invasive glucose tracking and enhanced swim tracking as well as a new faster and thinner chip. It may or may not have its own event when it launches this fall.
The M1 MacBook Air isn’t even a year old and we’ve already got our eyes on a new model. The next MacBook Air will reportedly be a major redesign, with a better chip, mini-LED display, and a variety of colors to match the 24-inch iMac. Along with the new outside colors, the inside bezels might be white to match the iMac as well. We’re expecting this in the first half of 2022.
While we’re expecting Apple to deliver new AirPods this year, it looks like the second-gen AirPods Pro will need to wait a little longer. Recent rumors say the new earbuds—which could have a design that fits snug in your ear without stems and bring fitness tracking features—will launch in 2022.
Now that the colorful 24-inch M1 iMac is out of the bag, it’s a pretty safe bet that a new higher-end model is on the way. We’re expecting a bigger screen possibly as big as 32 inches, an M1X or M2X chip, more RAM, and more ports—basically an Apple silicon version of the iMac Pro. We were originally hoping to see it in 2021, but it’s looking like a lock for mid-to-late 2022 now.
Released so far
11-inch iPad Pro
12.9-inch iPad Pro
Apple TV 4K with Siri Remote
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Michael Simon has been covering Apple since the iPod was the iWalk. His obsession with technology goes back to his first PC—the IBM Thinkpad with the lift-up keyboard for swapping out the drive. He's still waiting for that to come back in style tbh.