At a virtual event on Monday at 1 pm ET, the company is expected to unveil two high-end MacBook Pro laptops powered by its next-generation silicon chip. It may also introduce an update to its entry-level AirPods that’s more in line with the features of the AirPods Pro line.
Apple’s event kicks off what promises to be a busy week in tech product launches, with several companies pushing out new gadgets ahead of the all-important holiday season. Later this week, Google will unveil its Pixel 6 smartphone and Samsung is hosting a mysterious press event that the rumor mill didn’t even see coming.
There continues to be growing demand for PCs despite the shortages, however. PC shipments, including desktops and notebooks, reached 83.6 million units in the second quarter, up 13.2% from the same period last year, according to market research firm IDC.
Dan Ives, an analyst with Wedbush, said Apple’s decision to push forward with new product launches speaks to “the company’s confidence” in getting its devices “into customer hands by holiday season despite the doomsday supply chain skeptics.”
The new laptops, which are rumored to come in two sizes (14 inches and 16 inches), are said to have thinner bezels, improved displays, longer-lasting batteries and more memory options. According to TF International Securities analyst Ming-chi Kuo, who has a strong track record for predicting Apple specs, the company is also expected to ditch one of the MacBook’s most divisive features: the touch bar. That small rectangular OLED touchscreen, which was introduced in 2016, replaced the row of function keys at the top of the keyboard with text prediction and shortcuts.
Other MacBook Pro rumors include bringing back the HDMI port, SD card slot, and a MagSafe charger, the last of which was removed when Apple introduced USB-C ports to the line.
Apple may also show off its first update to AirPods in two years. Since their 2016 debut, the wireless earbuds have emerged as a surprise status symbol and a runaway hit for the company.
The third-generation AirPods will likely borrow some features from the more premium AirPods Pro line, including shorter stems and a case with longer-lasting battery life. (The entry-level version currently costs $159 and the Pro is $259.)
Apple has long leaned on offering multiple tiers for products like its iPhones and Apple Watches, often referred to as the good, better, best model. For that reason, it’s possible the latest AirPods will come without active noise cancellation or spatial audio support so the Pro line can still differentiate itself. (Apple’s over-the-ear headset, the AirPods Max, is its priciest option at $550).
A few October surprises
Apple could also unveil a Mac mini Pro desktop computer with the M1X chip. But some rumors indicate a slimmer, redesigned model could be delayed until next year.