A few weeks ago, there were heavy rumors that Apple was planning a March 31 event to unveil a new slate of products. Now, for reasons that are obvious, Apple decided to err on the side of caution and cancel—a wise move considering Santa Clara County, where Cupertino is located, has banned gatherings of 1,000 people or more to curb the spread of covid-19. But while the event was canceled, that doesn’t mean the products are.
For starters, Apple announced today it’s got a new iPad Pro and an updated MacBook Air. And based on the deets, both launches basically confirm recent rumors that the iPad Pro was due for a refresh, and that butterfly keyboards were on their way out.
In a promotional video, Apple frames the new iPad Pro as a replacement for your computer. It features an A12Z Bionic chip, which Apple claims is faster and more powerful than “most Windows PC laptops.” It also adds an Ultra Wide 12MP camera, “studio-quality” mics, and a LiDAR scanner to boost depth sensing and augmented reality. (LiDAR is Apple’s fancy way of saying the new iPad has a time-of-flight sensor like Samsung’s Galaxy s20 line up.)
Oh, and it’s got a new keyboard complete with its own trackpad. The keyboard—dubbed Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro—is full-sized with backlighting, can unfold to double as a type of stand, and features scissor-type switches for 1mm of travel. As for trackpad support in iPadOS, Apple is adding a more “natural typing experience” and precise editing. That said, we’ll have to test how these new updates impact the iPad Pro’s ability to replace laptops. So far, we’ve found that various quirks have held the tablet back as a primary work device.
The new iPad Pro comes in two sizes: 11-inch and 12.9-inch. Both will be available in silver and space gray, with 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB configurations. The 11-inch starts at $800, while the 12.9-inch starts at $1,000. Meanwhile, the Magic Keyboard accessory will cost a whopping $300 for the 11-inch and $350 for the 12.9-inch. Both are available online today. (A reminder, Apple Stores are closed for the foreseeable future.)
Apple has also updated the MacBook Air. We weren’t too impressed with the 2018 version, but this time around, it seems Apple has addressed many of the issues we had. Namely, it’s reduced the price to $1,000, features a faster processor, and ups the starting storage to 256GB. And like the recently released 16-inch MacBook Pro, it’s got that sweet, sweet scissor-switch keyboard.
To get into slightly more detail, the new Air has 10th-gen Intel processors that go up to 1.2GHz quad-core Core i7. Unfortunately, Apple didn’t appear to go with the new and super fast Ice Lake processors but is instead relying on the successors to Kaby Lake which are generally on par with Ice Lake for raw speed, but lag behind Ice Lake when it comes to GPU performance.
According to Apple, that’s still double the performance from the 2018 model. It also claims the new Air will deliver 80 percent improved graphics via Intel Iris Plus Graphics. On top of doubling starting storage to 256GB, Apple also says you can configure up to a maximum of 2TB SSD. It also features a three-mic array, as well as support for up to a 6K external display.
Updates for the Mac mini were also announced. The main thing is that standard configurations have double the storage; the $800 model now comes with 256GB while the $1,100 model has 512GB.
Earlier this week, Apple also announced its new Powerbeats. At $150, the Powerbeats 4 are the most affordable ones yet but aren’t truly wireless—there’s still a cord that runs around the back. That said, Apple says they should sound the same as the Powerbeats Pro and comes with Siri compatibility. As an added plus, they also got a boost to 15 hours of battery life from 12 hours previously.
One thing we haven’t seen just yet, however, is the rumored iPhone 9 and 9 Plus. Rumors have been floating around about a successor to the popular iPhone SE, with speculation that it’ll feature a 4.7-inch display, an A13 chip, a similar design to the iPhone 8, TouchID and could go for as cheap as $400. So far, the rumor mill puts a potential launch date as something this spring—possibly coinciding with the release of iOS 13.4 That said, this could all be impacted by covid-19 concerns and related supply chain disruptions. Basically, we’ll just have to wait and see.