Apple’s in for another busy year – as are Apple fans’ bank accounts
2021 was simultaneously a year of safe bets and radical new thinking from Apple. The iPhone and Apple Watch lines broadly resembled their predecessors. But Apple decided to ‘think different’ when working on the revamped iMac and high-end MacBook Pros.
This year will bring more of the same – some hardware products will wow with exciting new designs, and other devices will get little more than a spec bump. Let’s dig in…
Last year’s iPhones gained new tech, but nonetheless resembled 2020’s offerings. Rumors suggest 2022 will see a design overhaul, most notably ditching the notch for a hole-punch camera – at least on the Pro models.
The mini’s likely to vanish, due to low demand, but the standard iPhone (and the rumored iPhone Max – a new and larger non-Pro iPhone) should all get 120Hz ProMotion displays. Every iPhone will get new chips and improved cameras.
Persistent rumors claim Apple will ditch the iPhone’s charging port, but this seems unlikely – and risky, since a wired connection is useful for diagnostics, and essential for pro users who need to transfer large media files. More interesting reports reckon the iPhone 14 line will have thicker cases, which would eradicate camera bumps, allow for bigger batteries, and in an instant make loads of existing accessories obsolete. Two out of three isn’t bad, we suppose.
Elsewhere, the ongoing pandemic might see Face ID transition from frustrating to absurd as the primary method to unlock your iPhone, but don’t bet on Touch ID making a triumphant return – even though that would benefit countless users.
iPhone SE 3
Apple’s cheapest iPhone looks set to keep one foot firmly in the past. Most rumors point to a minor revamp that will retain the Home button, presumably to urge those buyers looking for something more modern toward the iPhone 14.
Contrary claims this device will be more iPhone XR than iPhone 6 seem like wishful thinking – but here’s hoping that wish comes true. Still, the device’s innards should be more exciting, with an improved camera, an A14 chip for blazing-fast performance, and 5G connectivity.
Apple Watch Series 8
Last year’s Apple Watch is best-in-class, but didn’t significantly move Apple’s wearable on. That said, 2021’s design update – however minor – means it’s unlikely we’ll see another in 2022. Those folks clamoring for a flat-edged design echoing high-end iPhones and iPads should brace for disappointment – and consider how dated such a design would look on the wrist.
There are rumors, though, Apple will release a bespoke ‘rugged’ Apple Watch, designed to appeal to people who partake in extreme sports. Beyond that, there are claims Apple will integrate more monitoring (blood glucose and blood pressure, for example) and augment potentially live-saving feature fall detection with car crash detection.
It’s hard to know how Apple could improve the existing 12.9-inch iPad Pro, nor whether we’ll see new iPad Pro models in 2022 – they don’t appear every year. Still, rumors abound, pointing to even more powerful chips, MagSafe charging and ‘reverse charging’ for iPhones and AirPods. Beyond that, we’d hope to see the 11-inch model get the superior mini-LED display currently only found on the 12.9-inch unit, for the FaceTime camera to be moved to the long edge, and for proper external display support. We won’t hold our breath for the last of those.
On other iPads, don’t expect another iPad mini upgrade for a while, but the Air is overdue one. It’s lagging in camera and performance terms, so expect a new chip and Center Stage support. A 120Hz ProMotion display wouldn’t go amiss, but seems unlikely. The standard iPad will probably get a very minor update – merely a performance boost. Although if Apple ditches the Home button and adds a laminated display, its cheapest tablet could become 2022’s biggest tech bargain.
And the rest…
New Macs are on the way. A revamped MacBook Air will echo the 24-inch iMac’s sleek, colorful redesign and perhaps simplify the brand to ‘MacBook’. The 27-inch iMac, meanwhile, will become the new iMac Pro, with a larger display, ProMotion, more ports, and blazingly fast M-series Pro/Max chips.
We’re also awaiting a new Mac mini and Mac Pro. We hope the former will be smaller but retain power and plentiful connectivity options a lowish price. The Mac Pro will be at the other end of the budget scale, offering extensibility and eye-popping raw power within a space-efficient redesigned case.
New Apple displays have long been rumored, and we’d like to see one mere mortals can afford, but it remains to be seen whether Apple thinks there’s a market beyond its Pro Display XDR. Similarly, whether the iPod touch needs to exist will be answered in 2022 with a new model or quiet retirement.
Finally, Apple is keen on things you wear on your head. Expect a new design for AirPods Pro, along with support for lossless audio and tracking alerts when you misplace one. But don’t expect an Apple headset. Whether the company’s eventual gadget will be AR or VR, glasses or ‘helmet’, we’ve no idea. Nor does anyone outside of Apple HQ, and that will probably remain the case until this time next year – and beyond.