This December has been quiet on the Apple releases front, as it so often is (with a few notable exceptions). With so many consumers having already started – or even finished – their Christmas shopping around the start of December, it makes little sense for tech companies to release much in the last month of the year.
But with a new year comes new hope, and there’s a decent chance that Apple will start to unclog its product pipes in January. There are new iPhone, iPad, Mac, MacBook and AirPod models being prepared for imminent launch, and the company is going to have start releasing fairly soon.
Our suspicion, given past behaviour, is that Apple will again keep things quiet in January, and save up most of its big launches for a spring event – most likely in March or April. But we’ve listed the possibilities below, along with the chances of them happening.
To see how we got on with our predictions last time we did one of these, check our article looking at new Apple products for December 2021.
A new Mac mini
The theme of this article, and a phrase you’ll be reading more than once, is “Maybe now, but more likely in the spring.” And such is our prediction for the next Mac mini.
A new mini is definitely on the way, and it was a surprise when it didn’t appear alongside other new Macs at Apple’s event in October, especially as it’s expected to focus more on pro users. (Rather than replacing the current M1 mini, the next model will sit alongside it as a more powerful alternative.)
Writing near the end of August, the knowledgeable Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman predicted that the new Mac mini would launch “in the next several months”, which could certainly apply to a launch in January, but might just as plausibly apply to a release in the spring.
It’s a question of timing: when is the right moment to launch a pro-focused Mac mini? If Apple has plenty of other projects to talk about at its March/April event – the iPad Air, MacBook (not Air) and AirPods Pro, say – then it might roll out the Mac mini in January to clear the decks a bit.
What we’re saying, basically, is that there’s definitely a chance. You can keep up with the latest rumours with our new Mac mini hub.
iPad Air (5th gen)
We were spoiled with iPad updates in 2021, with new versions of the iPad, iPad mini and iPad Pro. But one name missing from the list was the iPad Air, which was last updated in 2020. It’s overdue for some love in the year 2022.
That probably won’t happen – join in if you know the words – until a spring event in March or April, both because of the greater publicity at a proper event and because the last iPad reveal was still relatively recent: if the Air was that close to readiness you’d have expected Apple to announce it alongside the new iPad mini and 10.2in iPad in September.
But, like the Mac mini, the new iPad Air is more likely to appear in January than it was in December, so there’s some grounds for optimism. Want more information? Direct the browser of your choice to our regularly updated new iPad Air guide.
MacBook Air (or just MacBook?)
This is a key launch for Apple’s laptop line-up, which looks to be heading for a major reorganisation.
If reports are to be believed, the Air is going to be extensively redesigned (including the loss of its characteristic ‘wedge’ shape), given a range of vibrant new colours and a powerful M2 processor, and renamed as just the MacBook. It’ll be souped up to such an extent that, as Samuel Nyberg has argued in our Different Think column, it’ll leave the cheaper MacBook Pro looking pretty pointless.
This is all set to happen in the first half of 2022. Of course, the fact that this is such a significant launch means it’s less likely to be slipped out in a press release: Apple’s spring event, or WWDC in June, are more plausible launch windows. Keep up with the latest rumours with our guide to the 2022 MacBook Air.
AirPods Pro (2nd gen)
We thought there was an outside chance Apple would squeeze the launch of the second-gen AirPods Pro into its December plans, much as it did with the AirPods Max a year earlier. The long shot didn’t come off, and the wait goes on for the follow-up to a popular product released as long ago as the autumn of 2019.
With the Christmas complications out of the way, the new AirPods Pro are now a much better bet. It really has been a long time since they were launched, leaving them deeply outshone by the cheaper and far newer AirPods 3. They need to be updated, and soon.
Our money remains on spring, but there’s a real chance that these will arrive sooner than that. Catch the latest rumours in our AirPods Pro (2022) news hub.
Larger iMac (or iMac Pro?)
It’s tempting to think of the iMac as a single product, but Apple sells two quite separate lines: cheaper models for consumers (right now that means the 24in iMac from April), and pro-focused models with larger screens. The consumer line is up to date, but the larger models are still based on Intel chips and sorely need an update.
At the moment the larger iMac has a 27in screen, but that’s expected to grow to 30in or even 32in. And Apple will of course add M-class processors – probably the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips from the MacBook Pro. Some pundits expect the larger iMac model to be rebranded as the iMac Pro (remember that name?) to reflect its increased power.
Our sense is that Apple is likely to wait until the summer to announce the new larger iMac, or spring at the earliest. A January reveal is a long shot, we’re afraid. More information on this important launch can be found in our new iMac hub.
iPod touch (8th gen)
The mysterious iPod touch update, which we’ve mentioned in our last couple of prediction articles, continues to drop down the probability scale.
In May 2020 we covered reports that a new touch was in development and would reportedly launch in autumn 2021. It didn’t, which obviously makes us doubt the rumour, but it’s possible it was delayed rather than cancelled.
Last month we explained that any Apple launches were likely to happen via press release rather than at a special event, because December events are almost unheard of. There have been a few January events in the past – the original iPad was announced in January 2010, regular readers will remember – but it’s not very likely we’ll get one this year.
For this reason we find the idea of a Mac Pro launch in January very unconvincing; plenty of the products in this list might plausibly be launched by press release, but not the flagship Mac Pro. WWDC is a nice fit for such a machine, but that isn’t until June.
While we wait, get the latest leaks and rumours in our new Mac Pro rumour roundup.
iPhone SE 3
The eagerly anticipated follow-up to 2020’s iPhone SE should land in the first half of 2022, with spring the most likely launch window. Multiple reports have pointed to March or April 2022.
A change to that apparent schedule is possible, of course, and we’ve raised the probability from 0.1 in our December predictions. But Apple is more rigid with its iPhone plans than anything else and a January launch would be a shock.
Want to know more? Visit our regularly updated iPhone SE (2022) news hub.
That’s how we see January panning out, but check back towards the end of the month to see if our predictions were hot or not – and to read our predictions for February. Things should start to pick up as we head towards the spring launch window.
For longer-range speculation, read our guide to all the new Apple products coming in 2022.