Update 6/10:Updated throughout based on rumors and new information.
After the Spring Loaded event brought the colorful 24-inch iMac, Siri Remote, and a new iPad Pro with an M1 processor and a gorgeous Liquid Retina XDR display, WWDC came and went with nary a single hardware release. But fret not, Apple is going to be very busy over the second half of 2021. Here’s everything we’re expecting to see between now and 2022.
AirPods (3rd generation)
We initially thought that new AirPods were coming at the Spring Loaded event, but Apple opted to skip audio products entirely. But based on the leaks and the rumors, they could arrive at any time between now and the iPhone event in the fall. 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. Early rumors suggested they could get noise cancelation, but more recent rumors say that’s not the case. But all accounts say they’re done and ready to ship and could arrive at any time, and after they skipped the Spring Loaded event and WWDC, we don’t really know.
iPad (9th generation)
Apple hasn’t done all that much to upgrade its entry-level iPad since it brought an A10 processor and Apple Pencil support with the 6th generation in 2018, but rumors say a new version is on the way that might finally bring a more modern design. It’s likely the new iPad will retain the home button, but the design could be closer to the old iPad Air, so the whole package should be slimmer all around and a lot thinner. Since it didn’t arrive at the spring event, the new iPad is more likely to arrive in late summer or early fall.
iPad mini (6th generation)
Apple last updated the iPad mini in 2019 but left the same stale design. That’s rumored to change with the update arriving later this year, but we’re not sure how modern it will get. Some reports say the mini will feature a design similar to the old iPad Air with thinner bezels and a home button, while others are expecting a Liquid Retina screen and Touch ID button like the new iPad Air. It’ll likely arrive alongside the bigger iPad.
Apple Pencil (3rd generation)
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 an update to the first-gen model that works with the entry-level iPad and iPad mini that are coming later this year.
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 looking like it’s finally going 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 that 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 late summer at the earliest.
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.
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 before the year is up. We haven’t heard anything about it, but we have some guesses: space gray, M1X or M2 chip, more RAM, and more ports—basically an Apple silicon version of the iMac Pro. Like the iMac launch at last week’s Spring Loaded event, it’s something of a wild card for WWDC, perhaps as a sneak preview that ships later in the year.
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 picture of what it will look like: basically the iPhone 12 lineup with a smaller notch. It’ll also likely have a better camera, the Pros might get a 120Hz screen, and there may be an always-on display option at long last. 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, though we don’t have too much to go on. We’ve heard rumblings of non-invasive glucose tracking and enhanced swim tracking, but otherwise, the rumor mill has been silent. We don’t even know if there will be a new SE, nor do we know whether the Apple Watch will get its own event like last year. Whatever the launch looks like, look for it in the fall.
This one’s probably a 2022 release, but we’ve heard lots of rumors that Apple is working on a new display for consumers, which would be the first since the 27-inch Thunderbolt was retired in 2016. Such a display would likely arrive alongside a redesigned Mac mini, which we’ve heard will be reminiscent of the PowerMac G4 Cube. But with so much going on in 2021, we wouldn’t be surprised to see this pushed to 2022.
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.