Ok. Real talk. It's October, we're back under "lock down" where I live, and we still don't have a new iPhone yet. Fine. Sure. We expected all of this to have happened already, just like any other year. But 2020 isn't like any other year. It's the "Will it Blend" of years.
So, instead … instead of the usual September iPhone event, we got, to quote Tim Cook: "Apple Watch and iPad!" And the iPhone 12 … Well, for that we have to wait until mid October. Like it's 2011 or something all over again.
Still, within a couple weeks, it's still expected to happen: Drone shot. Speed ramp. Transition. Steady cam. The lights go dark. The music pauses. The Apple Logo hits the screen. Tim Cook strides out. "Good morning! Good morning!" But then… what exactly?
Well, I figure 2020 owes us a little surprise and delight by now. So, what I'm hoping for is Apple TV, StudioPods, AirTags, iPad Pro, iPhones… so many iPhones. And maybe, just maybe, some one more thing?
Apple TV 4K+
Maybe Tim stays on camera or maybe we cut across to Eddy Cue, senior Vice President of services. You know, his epic shirt battle with Joz still hasn't been waged this year yet.
We start with an Apple TV remote, which if it doesn't get a much-needed complete make over, at least gets inductive charging. That way, whenever you get those 20%, those 10% battery warnings, you don't have to go looking for a Lightning cable. You can just put it down on your charging pad. And, hey, if you do that intermitntly anyway, mayb you never get that warning? And maybe that charging pad could be an AirPower Mark II, if that's ever cleared for take-off. A nerd can keep on dreaming, right?
As for the Apple TV 4K box itself, it looks about the same, of course, but has a beefed up A12X processor — or thereabouts. If Apple wants to take on the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5, maybe an A14X even? Not only to better handle things like HDR compositing and the next generation of games, but hopefully to handle Gamepass and Stadia. Seriously. Streaming is the future. Also, connected experiences like Fitness+ as well.
Apple TV Express
At the opposite end, what about an Apple TV Express? A small, HDMI dongle that could make every old TV and new Apple TV again? It wouldn't have the power envelope for Apple Arcade, but it could still stream like a beast. Even though Apple is adding TV+ to more and more third party devices, including Xbox and Playstation now, it'd still be great to get the full Apple TV package on any device.
Take my — very much lower amount of — money.
Cut back to Tim.
iPad Pro 2020 — Part Two
Just like 2012, when Apple announced the iPad 3 in March and then came back in October with an iPhone event and announced the iPhone 4, what if, just what if, once again they're not taking their foot off the gas… er… electric accelerator?
Maybe Laura Legros or John Ternus, VPs of hardware engineering both, gets this gig, but what if they have a new iPad Pro ready, a second on for 2020, that they just can't wait to share with us?
Rumors are split on this, some saying this year, some saying next. But if it is ready for October and not November, the story will be short and sweet.
Take the current iPad Pro, add an Apple A14X processor, 5G radios, and maybe, just maybe, a mini-LED display, stir, don't ever shake and chip the ice, and serve.Then watch the tech world lose our damn minds, equal parts elated and enraged.
Post production pan cut back to Tim. It's time for the main event.
For years, almost a decade, as soon as Tim Cook has introduced the latest, greatest new iPhones at each year's iPhone event, he's handed off to Phil Schiller, previously Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, now though… moving to Apple Fellow. Just… wikipedia it, to do the deep dive.
Now Greg Joswiak, previously Vice President of product marketing, is the freshly minted SVP of the whole shebang.
But maybe we start with Kaiann Drance, Vice President of iPhone marketing. Last year she handled with iPhone 11 introduction, and with panache. This year, iPhone 12.
I've done a metric ton of work on analyzing every aspect of the iPhone 12's potential already, but here's the gist:
It's got a new design, like the iPad Pro, or a retro-future iPhone 5. A new OLED screen on par with the original iPhone X, maybe the XS. 5G on frequency range 1, the low and middle bands. But mostly just a rock solid Qualcomm modem back in the stack.
Better camera, better, stills, better video, of course, of course, of course. Also, the brand new A14 Bionic on 5-nanometer and just ready to once again redefine what OP means on a phone.
And, surprise surprise — except to everyone reading the spoiler sites and tweets that is — it comes in two sizes now: 6.1-inch like the XR and 11, and 5.4… Yeah, like the original SE and iPhone X DNA digivolved into something new — the iPhone mini.
They both work with this new accessory called AirTags, maybe you've heard of them? Tiny little Apple-emblazoned disks you can stick on your keys and wallets, in your gym bags and wallets, hell in your kids clothes and your pets collars.
They have U1 chips in them and they work with Apple's Find my Network, so you can precisely locate anything you lost, stolen, or misplaced, like with AR guided precision. Even your Apple TV remote. No, I'm not letting that go.
In my perfect iPhone event, Apple addresses privacy concerns, because even though Tile's been on the market for years, Apple's all the headlines are going to care about.
Then we cut to Craig Federighi, senior Vice President of software engineering to demo Find My on the AirTags, maybe some 3rd party versions, along with any other new, hardware-specific features coming to iOS 14.2. You know, other than the new emoji that are all anyone's been really waiting for anyway.
Then it's time to talk about headphones at this year's iPhone event. Now, I don't know if we'll ever see Phil Schiller presenting again. When Apple makes a change, it's changed. But he's still in charge of events for the company, and he still loves audio gear as much as cameras, so who knows?
Either way, any way, the new AirPods Studio take everything great about the in-ear Pro and final-form them into full-on over-the-ear studio cans. Like portable HomePods… it's computational, spatial audio for your head. And we get the full demo, from silicon to streaming.
You can even swap out the earpieces like watch bands, so you can mix up the colors and patterns.
Then it's back Tim.
iPhone 12 Pro
Tim makes the intro and runs the video, then Joz or Kaiann dive us deep.
Similar design to the regular iPhone 12 but instead of glass and aluminum, it's glass and steel. Close as we may ever come to recapturing the Leica and Braun inspired design of the iPhone 4.
And yeah, this is all just an elaborate prank, a way to punk every pundit who was so desperately bored now back when the boxy design was first repeated, but are now every bit as desperate to get it back.
It's also got everything the regular iPhone 12 has just… extra. Pro extra. Pro batteries, Pro cameras with LiDAR now for better AR, a pro modem with mmWave support for frequency range 2 high-band support… if you can find some, and a pro display, beyond XDR… but maybe not ProMotion. Sorry, so sorry. Apple's going to need all the nerds to just get all the way off their backs about it. Just off of that thing. Which, good luck, right?
Sizes are bigger too: 6.1-inches, like the 11 but now with all the trimmings, and an extra embiggened 6.7-inch model to show Max what the meaning of Max really is. Plus to fit those new mmWave modems.
Cut back to Tim. Or maybe Deidra O'Brien, Senior Vice President of Retai, to talk about how Apple's going to handle an iPhone launch or couple in the age of COVID. Heavy, almost complete emphasis on online orders, with by-appointment pick up only for those who really need the extra help, and only in places where it's absolutely safe to give them that help. For everyone else, it's less Genius, more AppleCare.
Then cut back to Tim to run down everything we just saw and maybe, just maybe, give us one more thing (it is an iPhone event, after all)?
One more thing
Tim Cook has done a few "One more things" over the last decade: The Apple Watch. The iPhone X. I'm not sure we'll be getting one this year, but if there's any year that we all just need one, it's this year.
So, what could it be?
The first Apple Silicon Mac system, if it's ready to show off... a slick new ASi MacBook would be just one hell of a show stopper. Even an iPhone 12 topper, if Apple's excited enough to let that happen at this iPhone event.
I'm guessing that's going to be a third-event thing, maybe even a November thing, but I've learned never to say never again. Yeah, even after that stirred not shaken crack.
So, what about the first glimpse of Apple Glasses? Like Apple Watch got back in September of 2014? You know… Even if the AR glasses are ready to demo — and it still seems just all shades of early even for that — I kinda think Apple would vastly prefer previewing them at an in-person event, where they can really show and not just tell.
But let me know what you'd love to see in the comments!
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Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.