2020 was a fascinating time to be an Apple fan, and I think 2021 will be even more interesting. I’ve peered into my crystal ball and here’s what I’m predicting:
This spring, we’ll see 14-inch MacBook Pros and 16-inch MacBook Pros with a new design and sporting next-gen M1 processors. They’re probably ditch the controversial Touch Bar, though I’ve grown fond of it. I also think we’ll finally get Mac laptops with optional cellular features.
I also think we’ll finally see Apple debut new external displays for those of us who can’t afford the US$5,000-plus XDR Pro Display. Why? Goldman Sachs analyst Rod Hall says desktop units did worse in 2020 compared to 2019, with a -18% decrease.
Notebooks sales, on the other hand, are booming. Sales of laptop devices were 36% higher in the third quarter year-over-year, beating Goldman Sachs estimates by 16%. And laptop owners like to connect occasionally to external displays. Apple will meet that need with 24-inch and 27-inch monitors. As to what features they’ll include, look at the display on the 2020 27-inch iMac with 5K Retina Display.
Speaking of the all-in-one, I think that Apple will introduce a 24-inch model in the spring and a 32-inch version in late summer/early fall. Both will sport a new redesign and next-gen M1 processors. And I think the 32-inch model will pack a mini-LED monitor.
Spring will also see new iPad Pros with mini-LED (not OLED) displays. Any other tablet updates won’t arrive until fall.
I’m also expecting a new Apple TV set-top box and the long-rumored Apple AirTag tracking devices in early spring. The former will pack a more powerful processor and offer more storage options. It will ship with a redesigned remote. Apple will also release its own gamepad for use with Apple Arcade on Apple TV, the Mac, and the iPad.
Summer will, of course, see the new versions of macOS, iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, and watchOS previewed at the Worldwide Developer Conference. I also think Apple will finally offer some details on its “Apple Glasses” augmented reality headset, which my crystal ball says will be released in late 2021 or early 2022.
When it comes to Apple Glasses, it will be a head-mounted display. Or may have a design like “normal” glasses. Or it may be available in both (which is what I think). The Apple Glasses may or may not have to be tethered to an iPhone to work. Other rumors say that Apple Glasses could have a custom-build Apple chip and a dedicated operating system dubbed “rOS” for “reality operating system.”
The September/October timeframe will see the arrival of iPhone 13 models. Apple will adopt OLED displays with low-power LPTO backplane technology from LG Display for at least two smartphone models in 2021. Such tech would help bring 120Hz ProMotion screens to the iPhone.
The next round of iPhones will come in the same four model sizes as this year’s iPhone 12, but with some major improvements to the camera technology. As analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has predicted, the Ultra Wide cameras on the two high-end models will be significantly upgraded to f/1.8, 6P (six-element lens) with autofocus.
All the current iPhone 12 models are equipped with f/2.4, 5P (five-element lens) Ultra Wide cameras with fixed focus. Looking ahead to 2022, Kuo expects the iPhone 14 line-up to be equipped with the same improved Ultra Wide camera with f/1.8, 6P and autofocus. I think he’s right.
What we WON’T see next year (or in 2022 or 2023 or 2024) is an “Apple Car.”