What to expect from Apple in Spring 2021: New iPad Pro, AirTags, and more

Could there be an Apple event this spring? There is growing evidence that new products are on the way, ranging from new AirPods to a new iPad Pro and more. The event would almost certainly be virtual because of the ongoing pandemic, but there is plenty of precedent for a spring event…

March event not happening

First, March 16th gained traction on social media as a potential date for an Apple event, but reliable sources quickly shot down that expectation.

Then, March 23rd was also reported as when Apple would hold its March event this year. While this date was reported by multiple different sources, a March 23 event did not come to fruition. As such, we now expect the first Apple event of the year to be held in April at the earliest.

Whether or not Apple holds an event in April remains to be seen, but it’s something that is certainly a possibility given the backlog of products the company reportedly has ready to announce.

Apple Spring Event history

Some Apple events are almost guaranteed to take place every year, including WWDC in June and the annual iPhone event in the fall. Most years, it’s also reasonable to expect a second fall event focused on the Mac. Last year, for example, we had three Apple events in three months: iPad and Apple Watch in September, iPhone 12 in October, and Apple Silicon Mac in November.

Spring events are harder to predict. Apple did not hold a spring event in 2020 due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it did announce a new iPad Pro, Magic Keyboard, and MacBook Air via press releases in March, followed by the second-generation iPhone SE via a press release in April.

In 2019, Apple held a Spring Event purely dedicated to its Services segment, with details on Apple News+, Apple Card, Apple TV+, and Apple Arcade. In March 2018, Apple invited everyone to Chicago, where it announced a new education-focused iPad.

If Apple were to hold a March Event in 2021, we would expect it to be virtual because of the continued COVID-19 pandemic. There is an argument to be made that virtual events are easier for Apple to put together than in-person events, which lends more credence to the possibility of a virtual event this spring.

Here are some potential candidates for an Apple Spring Event, if one were to materialize.

New iPad Pro and iPad mini

One of the leading rumors is that Apple will release a new iPad Pro with mini-LED display technology during the first quarter of 2021. The expectation is that the mini-LED backlighting will come to the 12.9-inch iPad Pro first, followed eventually by the 11-inch iPad Pro.

The iPad Pro (2021) lineup is expected to be virtually identical to the 2020 model in terms of design. So the biggest change will likely be the display technology shift, plus a new chip likely based on the A14 inside for even better performance. 9to5Mac recently found evidence in iOS and iPadOS code of the new A14X processor that is likely to be used in the iPad Pro.

Most recently, Bloomberg reported that the new iPad Pro lineup could be announced as early as April. The report also mentioned that the new iPad Pros will feature Thunderbolt connectivity for the first time. This would open the door to additional accessories, such as external displays, storage, and more.

Apple is also reportedly working on a new iPad mini that could be released this year. The new iPad mini is said to feature an 8.4-inch display with smaller bezels. It, unfortunately, will not feature a design overhaul similar to the iPad Air 4 and iPad Pro, with Apple instead retaining the top and bottom bezels, home button, and Touch ID.

Apple last updated the iPad mini in 2019, bringing a faster A12 Bionic processor as well as other improvements.

Finally, Apple is also rumored to be developing a new low-cost iPad, but we don’t expect it to be released until sometime later this year.

Reports of a new Apple TV have been circulating for a while now as the current lineup starts to really show its age compared to competing streaming devices. Recent reports have suggested that a new Apple TV is still on track for sometime in 2021, but details are unclear.

Similarly, AirTags have been rumored for two years at this point. Apple’s item tracking accessories are still expected to be released this year. Whether or not the new AirTags or Apple TV materialize this spring remains to be seen, but Jon Prosser recently tweeted that the accessory is on schedule for March.

The Apple Silicon transition continues

Apple has acknowledged that it will take approximately two years to transition the entire Mac lineup to Apple Silicon chips. As such, we expect new Apple Silicon Macs to be announced throughout 2021. Rumors currently indicate that we can expect a new iMac lineup, as well as new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros this year.

While the new MacBook Pro models are not expected to be released until the second half of 2021, the redesigned iMacs could be coming sooner than that. Apple has stopped selling a handful of 21.5-inch iMac models, and it also recently discontinued the iMac Pro without a clear replacement.

The new iMacs could certainly be announced at an April Apple event if one were to happen. Given the expected redesign, it’s likely that Apple would want to hold an event for the iMac introduction, rather than announce it via a press release.

iPhone SE 3

Macotakara has reported that Apple will also release a new third-generation iPhone SE in April. Details here are completely unclear, but a release in April would come exactly one year after the 4.7-inch iPhone SE was released in 2020. On the flip side, Ming-Chi Kuo has said Apple will likely not announce a new iPhone SE until next year.

Rumors have suggested that Apple is working on a larger version of the iPhone SE, likely with a 5.5-inch display and a design similar to the iPhone 8 Plus. Whether or not this comes to fruition in March of 2021 remains to be seen.

AirPods 3 and AirPods Pro 2

Following the introduction of AirPods Max in December, Apple reportedly has updates on the way for the rest of its AirPods lineup in 2021.

New second-generation AirPods Pro are rumored to be on the way. AirPods Pro 2 could feature a “more compact” design that removes the stem that currently sticks out from the bottom of the AirPods Pro.

Bloomberg has cautioned, however, that such design changes are not guaranteed. Apple is said to have faced challenges removing the AirPods Pro stem while also still including features like transparency mode, the H1 chip, and noise cancellations.

Apple is also rumored to be developing new entry-level AirPods with a shorter stem and replaceable ear tips. These would serve as a replacement to the standard AirPods that Apple sells today. Pricing information is unclear, but at least one report has suggested that AirPods 3 will cost roughly 20% less than AirPods Pro, which indicates a $199 price point.

That being said, most recent reporting has indicated that new AirPods aren’t likely to come until sometime later this year, ruling them out for the April event.

Apple Spring Event Wrap up

Whether or not Apple holds an April Event this year remains to be seen. Again, if such an event does materialize, we expect it to be completely virtual because of the COVID-19 pandemic. While there are enough new products being rumored to fill a 60-minute event, Apple has proven that it’s perfectly okay announcing new hardware via press releases as well.

To recap, an April Event would likely include the introduction of the new iPad Pro, AirTags, and perhaps new iMacs. Things like the AirPods 3 and iPhone SE 3 aren’t expected this soon, and the fate of the Apple TV is unclear.

What do you think? Will Apple hold an April Event this year to announce its new iPad hardware, iMacs, and more? Let us know down in the comments!

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