It's already shaping up to be an exciting year for new Apple products, and it's safe to say that we're not going to have to wait until the big iPhone 12 release this fall to see all of the cool things that Apple has in its pipeline. In fact, we're already expecting at least one or two things to arrive next month, and there could potentially be even more.
Whether all of this will be enough for Apple to hold an event in March remains to be seen, but we also know from past experience that just because Apple doesn't hold a media event doesn't mean that it can't announce cool new products in other ways. In fact, it did this last spring with its long-awaited second-generation AirPods and its new iPad Air and iPad mini, and then did the same last fall with the AirPods Pro and the new 16-inch MacBook Pro.
So whether we see a March event or not, continue reading to learn about the cool new Apple products and updates that we could see arriving next month.
iPhone 9 / iPhone SE 2
The reports on this one have also been increasingly consistent since early last year, so there probably won't be too many surprises here. It's expected to basically be the same design as the 2017 iPhone 8, but sport Apple's latest A13 SoC, putting its performance on par with the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro models.
It will also likely ditch 3D Touch, since no other current iPhone model has it, and may also include a few subtle design changes, but every other internal spec from the cameras to the home button is expected to be identical to the iPhone 8. There were also some rumours that a larger "iPhone 9 Plus" could accompany it, but these have been considerably more vague, and the only reason we've given them any credence is because Apple has thus far still been selling the iPhone 8 Plus, which seems like it will be discontinued once this new model is released.
iOS 13.4 et al
While Apple has only just dropped the first beta of iOS 13.4 last week, the beta cycles for point releases are usually fairly short, and there's actually some pretty good evidence that Apple plans for a public release in March.
The new iOS 13.4 beta, which was also just released as a public beta, show Apple laying the foundations for some interesting new features like CarKey, and while that could still be a few months out since car manufacturers need to support it, one thing that Apple has promised developers is that they'll soon be able to start packaging universal apps for Mac and iPad. The timeframe Apple has given developers for this? March 2020.
Since this feature almost certainly requires iOS 13.4, iPadOS 13.4, and macOS Catalina 10.15.4, it stands to reason that Apple will have to release these before developers can start taking advantage of them. iOS 13.4 is also expected to introduce support for iCloud Folder Sharing, and new Memoji stickers, while watchOS 6.2 will bring in-app purchases to the Apple Watch.
13-inch MacBook Pro
We've been expecting Apple to replace the butterfly keyboards in its entire MacBook Pro lineup for a while, and when Apple did this with its 16-inch MacBook Pro last fall, it seemed like only a matter of time before the 13-inch MacBook Pro would get the same treatment.
There have already been reports that a new 13-inch MacBook Pro is on the horizon, but don't expect a repeat of the big redesign that the 16-inch MacBook Pro got; every report we've seen so far suggests that it's just going to be a minor spec bump that features the new scissor-switch style keyboard. However, that in itself could be a pretty big deal for those who have been waiting to pull the trigger on a new MacBook in order to avoid potential problems with Apple's beleaguered butterfly keyboards.
There's definitely a new iPad Pro on the horizon — we've heard that Apple is working on a new model with a triple-lens camera system, akin to what the iPhone 11 Pro already includes, which would be a pretty big deal in an iPad. It's even possible that the iPad Pro could have 5G before the iPhone, which may sound weird, but actually isn't unprecedented — LTE also came to the iPad first back in 2012.
Whether the new iPad Pros will see a March debut is another matter, however. Back in 2017 Apple chose to unveil the new iPad Pros in June at WWDC, but there's also no reason to believe that Apple would hold off an announcement just to wait for WWDC — something that's almost entirely about software — if the new iPad Pros are ready sooner.
We've been hearing rumours about Apple's item-tracking tags since early last summer, ever since code for them was found in iOS 13. In fact, many of us expected Apple to announce them at its fall iPhone event, but when it came and went with nary a peep, we assumed that they simply weren't ready.
However, Apple already included some of the technology to support these so-called "AirTags" in the new iPhone 11 models, so it's been clear for a while now that it's a question of when these are coming, rather than if they're coming, and Apple's competitors are getting nervous.
While Apple's iPad Pro models appear to have moved into a comfortable 18-month release cycle, it's become harder to peg down what Apple's schedule is like for its other iPad models.
The non-Pro iPad lineup in fact saw two years of total neglect before Apple released another entry-level iPad, and that's been on a (mostly) annual refresh cycle since, Apple mixed things up last year by reintroducing the iPad mini and slotting in a new mid-tier model in the form of the rebranded iPad Air. This also resulted in the lower-end iPad being pushed off to a fall release, where it got a larger 10.2-inch screen, but not much else to distinguish it from the 2018 model that came before.
So it's anybody's guess whether Apple has another refresh of its iPads in store for this spring. We've heard almost nothing about it, and Apple's A12-equipped iPad Air and iPad mini are certainly still powerful enough that they're not really in need of an update, and Apple is likely focusing all of its iPad engineering efforts on the new iPad Pros right now.
If recent reports are to be believed, Apple's AirPower may live on in a much less ambitious form. The latest reports that Apple is working on a wireless charger kind of came out of left field late last month, but they also came from venerable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a habit of being right about these sorts of things.
If you're hoping that AirPower itself will rise from ashes, however, that's not what Kuo is suggesting. Instead, the report says Apple is working on a "smaller wireless charging mat." We expect it will likely be a more traditional Qi charger, without the fancy multi-device charging capabilities that AirPower had promised, but that doesn't mean that Apple can't find other ways to make it stand out from the pack.
We've been hearing reports for a while now that Apple is working on its own set of premium headphones that would be distinct from its Beats brand. While speculation around these quieted down following two very successful AirPods launches, reputable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has been insisting for a while that Apple is working on these, and recently suggested that this could be the season for it to happen.
However, it's another product that makes us curious about what Apple might bring to the table with its own Apple-branded headphones. Apple already has the entire Beats lineup in its arsenal, and it hasn't been shy about giving Beats' headphones the same advanced capabilities that its AirPods users already enjoy, so this could ultimately just turn out to be little more than a rebranding play.