What I want to see at the Apple Fall 2021 event and what we'll get

Tim Cook People
Tim Cook People (Image credit: Brooks Kraft/Apple)

The Apple Fall 2021 event (or events) has yet to be announced. However, with the Delta COVID strain still causing problems across the U.S and the world, it's safe to assume it will be a virtual event once again.

If there's one positive to come out of these crazy times, it's been the temporary end of the live Apple event. Don't get me wrong, as someone who has covered Apple for over a decade, I still find it thrilling to be among the first to touch new products following a press event. And yet, in recent years, I have grown increasingly tired of seeing the same old pony show on the Steve Jobs Theater stage, especially in the fall when new iPhones get announced.

Apple has now held four pandemic-driven virtual events, including three that were held last fall. For these, Cupertino could have stuck to the same song and dance numbers and called it a day. Instead, however, it went down a different path. Surprisingly, each event, though pre-recorded, oozed with excitement with a nice mix of presenters and many more surprises than we've come to expect from Apple events in recent years.

Some rumors suggest that Apple will only hold one virtual event this fall, its path in 2017 and 2019. I hope this isn't the case. Though holding three events between September and November last year was probably overkill, holding only one event typically means pushing many new products to the side, and that's unfortunate. Therefore, I'm hoping Apple intends to hold two events: one focused on mobile devices, including the next round of best iPhones, and another on new Macs, including the successor to the 16-inch MacBook Pro (2019).

Regardless of the number, here's what I want and expect to see by Apple in the coming weeks.

Redesigned Apple Watch

Apple Watch Series 7 Render

Apple Watch Series 7 Render (Image credit: Matt Talks Tech)

Though some of the earlier rumors suggested this was finally the year Apple would add a blood sugar monitor to Apple Watch, it's more likely now the "Apple Watch Series 7" will largely focus on a physical design change — only the third since the wearable device first launched in 2015.

Though I have the same concerns as Luke Filipowicz, this design change will probably give the watch a more boxy look, putting it in line with the iPhone 12 series and certain iPads. As long as my 50 or so bands will still work with the redesigned Apple Watch, I'll learn to accept it, boxy or not.

With little innovation baked into watchOS 8 (so far), Apple's probably going to add new colors to the next Apple Watch's design change. Don't be surprised if these colors closely match those of the 24-inch iMac or 2020 iPad Air. Additionally, Apple will probably throw in another new watch face and not allow third-party developers to do the same — again.

A rugged choice?

A May rumor said Apple's developing a more rugged Apple Watch model that could launch this year or next. I'd say 2022 sounds more likely, although this is one area where Apple could surprise. Another unknown is whether they'll be a next-generation Apple Watch SE. My prediction: there probably won't be as the current model becomes Apple's least expensive wearable device after it finally retires the Apple Watch Series 3.

What I want: This diabetic wants that blood tester.

What We'll Get: Lots of colors on our wrists.

Muted iPhone 13 lineup

Iphone 13 Dummy In Silver (Image credit: Weibo: Geek Village Chief)

We keep hearing sales for the iPhone 12 mini is impressing no one at Apple. And yet, it seems the iPhone 13 series will once again include a 5.4-inch model, alongside a 6.1-inch iPhone 13, 6.1-inch iPhone 13 Pro, and 6.7-inch iPhone 13 Pro Max. Beyond some modest color changes, this year's iPhones will be short of many new features. Expect better cameras (as always) throughout and possibly iPhone Pro models with 1TB for the first time, along with a 120Hz ProMotion display. We can also expect ever-smaller notches across the entire lineup.

What we're not going to get this year is the return of Touch ID (this time under the display), a USB-C port, or a notch-less design. Those features are rumored, but not until the 2022 models.

The bottom line: iPhone 12 owners might want to take a hard pass on a new phone this year and use the money on a freshly designed MacBook Pro (see below).

What I want: An iPhone 13 Pro Max in red.

What We'll Get: An iPhone 13 Pro Max in dark, drab, colors, again.

More Apple silicon, one final Intel-based product

16 Inch M1x Macbook Pro Concept (Image credit: Antonio De Rosa (MacBook concept))

On the Mac front, big changes are coming. Much of the focus should be on a redesigned 16-inch MacBook Pro and all-new 14-inch MacBook Pro. Both will feature Apple silicon, but it's uncertain whether these models will include an M1 SoC like previous models or shift to an updated M1+ chip. In addition, these laptops will see the return to multi-ports on both sides, a new take on MagSafe, and lots of new color choices. Finally, we're also likely to see the final Intel-based computer from Apple, a next-generation Mac Pro.

Other Mac updates probably won't happen until the spring, including a successor to the 27-inch iMac and a new MacBook Air version.

What I want: More color choices on MacBook Pro. What We'll Get: That and more.

iPad changes

Ipad Mini 6 Ipad Air Side By Side (Image credit: Jon Prosser / FrontPageTech)

Both the ninth-generation iPad and the iPad mini could see major updates as early as next month. While the latter is the tablet that's most likely to get the boxy (!) makeover treatment like the iPad Pro lineup and iPad Air, even the iconic iPad could surprise.

What I want: A big surprise, any surprise, on this front.

What We'll Get: More proof the iPad mini isn't going anywhere.

Anything else?

There will probably be some movement on the AirPods front now that the second-generation model is nearing its third birthday. A newly designed model could be announced in the coming weeks, although it might be a few more months before we see a next-generation AirPods Pro get announced.

Beyond this, I expect Apple will surprise us somewhere during its event(s). In 2020, the big surprise was the introduction of MagSafe for the iPhone. This year, perhaps Apple announces something big on the Apple Watch front. Or it might have decided the many changes coming to the MacBook Pro lineup will be more than enough to satisfy its flock this time around.

I would expect we'll be seeing an Apple event announcement very soon. Last year's "Time Flies" event was held on September 15. Coupled with the lateness of this year's Labor Day in the U.S. (September 6), I would expect this year's iPhone event will be held anywhere between September 7 and September 16.

What do you want to see at the Apple Fall 2021 event? Let us know in the comments below.

Bryan M Wolfe
Staff Writer

Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.

1 Comment
  • It'll definitely be a "meh" year for iPhone and Apple Watch for sure. I'm not even excited. The only thing that'll excite me at this point would be a foldable iPhone but that'll probably be a couple of years away yet.