We all know that 2020 is a strange year, even for Apple. The company just had a September product launch event in which it did not reveal an iPhone! But the time is upon us. Apple will likely reveal its next generation of iPhones at its upcoming event on Tuesday, October 13, 2020. There are also several other devices and accessories expected simultaneously, so this could be a packed product announcement.
We can probably assume that Apple will show a slick, pre-recorded video presentation to show off its new products, likely running about two hours. The company's last two events, the keynote for WWDC 2020 and its September Apple Watch/iPad event, were both well-produced, zooming around Apple's campus to various executives in charge of different products.
But as for actual content, what might Apple have in store for us this fall?
Let's get right to it. This is going to be the iPhone 12 event. Delayed by almost a month from its normal debut, the iPhone 12 is expected to be formally unveiled to the world during the event.
But just what will we see? Well, we've been hearing since last year, right after the launch of the iPhone 11, in fact, that the 2020 iPhone lineup would consist of four phones, not three. However, there will still, apparently, be three different screen sizes.
The phones and reported naming break down like this:
- iPhone 12 mini - 5.4-inch OLED display
- iPhone 12 - 6.1-inch OLED display
- iPhone 12 Pro - 6.1-inch OLED display
- iPhone 12 Pro Max - 6.7-inch OLED display
So, not only will this line apparently see the largest iPhone ever produced, but also the smallest iPhone with an edge-to-edge display. They're also said to sport a brand-new design that takes after the current iPad Pro lineup. So, with flat sides and glass on front and back, it'll be like an updated version of the iPhone 4 design.
These phones are said (and all-but-confirmed now, with the reveal of the iPad Air 4) to feature Apple's new A14 system-on-a-chip, which features a six-core processor and eight-core GPU. We don't know too much about that chip yet, except that it offers massive boosts over the A12. We'll have to compare it to the A13 to see the iPhone 12's advantage over the iPhone 11.
There are also supposed to be the expected set of camera improvements, which are rumored to include a new sensor, and, for the Pro models, LiDAR, or Light Detection and Ranging. LiDAR first showed up on the iPad Pro camera array earlier this year, and now it seems to be making its way into your pocket. The LiDAR sensor is said to aid in faster autofocus, likely as part of the rumored 3D TrueDepth camera now on the backs of those devices.
We're also looking at the possibility of the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max starting with 128GB of storage, rather than 64GB, though the iPhone 12 and 12 mini may still start at that lower storage level. Also rumored is the continued inclusion of Lightning and a new Midnight Blue color. There are supposed to be smaller batteries, but rumor has it that battery life is expected to be similar to the iPhone 11 series thanks to efficiencies in the new A14 chip.
Oh, and there's also supposed to be 5G. Given the sort of lackluster reception of the technology so far, it might be easy to forget that we're expecting the iPhone to adopt a whole new cellular technology this year, too. The iPhone 12, 12 mini, and 12 Pro are said to support sub-6 networking, which is slower, but more wide-spread and farther-reaching than mmWave. Meanwhile, mmWave is said to be the sole province of the larger iPhone 12 Pro Max, with its bigger battery that can better take the hit that mmWave will undoubtedly dish out.
It's been three years since Apple launched a new Apple TV, and rumor has it that the time for an updated streaming box may be at hand.
This makes a lot of sense. The new top-of-the-line Apple TV 4K runs on the aging A10X system-on-a-chip, which, while capable of 4K HDR video playback, could use a little more headroom in that arena. A recent report claims that an Apple TV with a better system-on-a-chip is coming, along with an upgraded remote.
On the subject of the remote, Apple is said to be working on a Find My-like system that makes the remote easier to find if and when it's lost. Other than that, there's not a lot going around about any upgrades Apple might be making to the remote.
And that's the story of the next Apple TV, too. There's just not a lot going around about it. We don't know what kind of chip it's getting (maybe an A12Z, with its eight-core GPU), or any other features it might have. 8K? Probably not, as we're a ways away from 8K being a mainstream thing. It's just that the Apple TV is a single-to-three-use device (streaming, gaming, home control), and the new features it gets always come in software.
The question to ask, I feel, is whether the current Apple TV 4K will stick around at a lower price. This would make a lot of sense, especially if Apple also got rid of the Apple TV HD, which runs on an even older processor (Apple A8), and is even less suited to modern gaming and video streaming. While I'm skeptical that Apple will actually move the current Apple TV 4K down and get rid of the Apple TV HD, it would certainly be a welcome move.
Moving from video to audio, Apple is said to be preparing to release a brand-new entry into the AirPods line, and they could launch at the iPhone 12 event.
The latest rumors point to Apple finally taking the wraps off a set of on-ear or over-ear headphones called AirPods Studio. Representing growth in the AirPods line in multiple ways, AirPods Studio are supposedly Apple's entry into the premium large headphone market, a competitor to similar products from Bose, Sony, or even Apple's own Beats.
It's rumored that AirPods Studio, despite being a set of on- or over-ear headphones, will still have features that can automatically pause and play music, just like AirPods and AirPods Pro do. These would include so-called "neck detection," which would detect whether the AirPods Studio were on your neck. They are also said to feature interchangeable parts, attached to the headphones by magnets to be easily swappable for different or more comfortable parts, like bigger or smaller ear cups.
It's probable that the AirPods Studio will feature Apple's H1 wireless chip (or perhaps serve as the debut platform for a next-generation wireless chip) and is rumored to sport the U1 ultrawide band chip, too.
A new HomePod or HomePod mini has been rumored to be in the works for a while now. Unfortunately, much like the Apple TV, there's just not much to go on except rumors that Apple is working on a smaller, or at least less expensive, HomePod.
It's likely that any new HomePod would run on a different chip than the now-outdated A8. I wouldn't be surprised if the A12 ended up in the speaker. This wouldn't be surprising, considering some of the HomePod features for which Apple has applied for patents. These include Face ID (yes, really) and hand gesture control. Both would be interesting and give you more options for customizing your experience and controlling your HomePod.
I'll be anxious to see what choices Apple makes with the next generation of HomePod. Personally, I'm hoping to see both an update to the current device that comes in at a lower price ($299 seems like a good target) and a smaller, even less-expensive speaker that's perfect for more compact spaces.
Could it finally be time for AirTags? Truly?
Apple's rumored Tile competitors have been "about to launch" for around a year. These little discs are said to be location beacons that you can place on or in valued objects, allowing you to find them with the Find My app on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac. Stick one in a backpack and attach another to your car keys, just like you can with similar trackers from Tile or Chipolo.
Recent renders, said to be based on actual video and photos of the AirTags, show a small, sleek disk made of what appears to be silicon and metal. Central to the AirTags is supposed to be the U1 chip, which allows for millimeter-accurate location data on your object if you're using a device also equipped with a U1 to find it.
Honestly, I'm feeling a bit like Charlie Brown at this point, trying to kick that AirTags football. The little tags have been rumored so many times to be "almost here" that now, I couldn't say for sure whether we'll ever actually see them. But assuming we do, I'm curious to see what Apple's worked out.
Apple Silicon Macs
This is the other big one. And it's a big question mark. Will Apple unveil the first Macs powered by Apple Silicon at this event?
It would be an opportune time. Apple has given new Macs, like the iMac Pro in 2017, as much as six months of lead time between announcement and launch. While the Apple Silicon transition was announced at WWDC 2020, the company didn't actually reveal any specific models that would feature Apple-designed processors. Tim Cook did say, however, that Apple would release the first of these new Macs later this year.
Well, we're kind of coming down to the wire here. The October 13 iPhone 12 event will be Apple's biggest product launch of the year, and there might be no better time to show off the first Apple Silicon Macs to the world. Even if they don't launch until November (as the Pro models of iPhones are rumored to do, by the way) or even December, this event will still be the stage with the most eyeballs on it.
Again, we turn to rumors, which point to a couple of possible models for the Apple Silicon debut. First, there's the 13-inch MacBook Pro. This Mac is said to enter production this quarter, and it doesn't sound like it'll have much in the way of a redesign compared to the current MacBook Pro of the same size. Apple is reportedly also planning a 14-inch model and an updated 16-inch MacBook Pro, as well, but those won't enter production until next year, according to Ming-Chi Kuo.
Apple may also be about to stage a comeback for the 12-inch MacBook. Another rumor points to a new 12-inch MacBook debuting soon with Apple Silicon. The idea would be a relatively low-powered laptop (though still on par with the rumored upgrade coming to the iPad Pro next spring) running on the A14X system-on-a-chip that lasts between 15 and 20 hours. The thing that throws some cold water on this is Apple's note at WWDC that its Mac chips would be Mac-focused, rather than just repurposed mobile chips. While Apple could obviously make an exception, the AnumberX line has always been an iPad chip, and I doubt Apple would want to confuse things like that.
Apple's iPhone 12 event has offiically been announced. We're as excited as the rest of you to see what Apple's got in store for its biggest device launches of the fall, and we'll be watching and covering it as it happens, so stay locked to iMore for all the latest coverage on Apple's upcoming devices.