It looks like 2020 is already shaping up to be an exciting year, with some potentially interesting new products on the roadmap not only for the usual big fall releases, but a few that will be coming in the next couple of months.
Chief among these is Apple’s “iPhone 9”, which reliable reports are now predicting to arrive in March. This would be a spiritual successor to the 2016 iPhone SE — an upgrade of a 2.5-year-old iPhone to current specs — which would make the “iPhone 9” to the iPhone 8 what the iPhone SE was to the iPhone 5s. We’ve already seen some renders suggesting a slightly more modern look, and while these are largely speculation, the one thing that seems certain is that it will retain the same design as the iPhone 8 but get an upgrade to the current A13 processor and drop support for the now-defunct 3D Touch feature.
However, while that’s expected to likely be Apple’s biggest release, it’s far from all that the company has up its sleeve. If recent rumours are true, there could also be a new (PRODUCT)RED Apple Watch Series 5 arriving — which would mark the first time Apple has released its actual wearable device with the (PRODUCT)RED branding, as opposed to accessories like watch bands.
Then there’s a new 13-inch MacBook Pro on the horizon, with recent filings suggesting that model is coming sooner rather than later, and will likely be a refresh to make it current alongside Apple’s very recently released 16-inch MacBook Pro, and most importantly bringing its new and improved keyboard design to the smaller model, which will be a welcome change after making users suffer through years of problems with the butterfly keyboard. However, most reports suggest that this will primarily be a change to the keyboard, rather than the more significant design changes that the 16-inch MacBook Pro received.
Apple is also expected to release new iPad Pros this year, and while there haven’t yet been any rumours pegging an actual release date for those, most of what we’ve heard suggests that it will land in the first half of the year, rather in the fall. Some reports last year had already suggested a late 2019 release, but Apple seems to be moving to an 18-month cycle for its high-end iPad models. A June timeframe seems to make more sense for a the new iPad Pro lineup, though, which could still beat the iPhone to including mmWave 5G technology, and may even feature a triple-lens camera system like the iPhone 11 Pro.
In addition to the more obvious products, Apple is working on a lot of other things that could materialize at any time, such as its much-rumoured AirTags, along with possible updates to the Apple TV and HomePod, both of which are arguably overdue for an update.
A Spring Event?
It remains an open question, however, whether all of this is enough to justify Apple holding an actual spring event. Last year Apple had no problem forgoing stage time for several new products, announcing them instead via a series of press releases. These included the second-generation AirPods, the fifth-generation iPad mini 5 and new 10.5-inch iPad Air.
However, Apple also had a major event planned on March 25 where it announced a plethora of new services, which were almost certainly more interesting than new AirPods and iPads, and Apple naturally wanted to place the emphasis on Apple TV+, Apple News+, Apple Arcade, and the Apple Card, so the press releases the week before cleared the stage of new products so Apple could focus on its services instead.
A major services event seems considerably less likely this year, but that doesn’t mean that Apple has to hold an event just because there are new products coming, especially if none of these products are especially revolutionary. Apple doesn’t take the stage to announce just anything, and realistically what seems to be on the docket right now is relatively pedestrian compared to the unveiling of something like the iPhone 11 Pro. Just like the stories it tells on Apple TV+, Apple is more concerned about the narrative behind its products and services than simply standing up and talking about new stuff for its own sake.
In fact, the last sort of product-related spring event Apple held was two years ago, when it debuted the sixth-generation iPad — the first non-Pro iPad to gain Apple Pencil support — but even that announcement was ancillary to the educational focus of the event, which was held in Chicago, and highlighted a whole series of tools for educators — a story that only partly involved the new iPad.
So our take is that unless Apple has something particularly big to announce — like the new iPad Pro — there’s a good chance that what arrives in early spring will likely slip out by press release as it has in the past, and Apple will save its stage time for the much bigger reveals it has in store for later this year.