The most comprehensive prediction of Apple’s spring conference: 5 major product lines are about to be updated, and AirTag is finally coming!

Since the earlier revelation that Apple will hold its spring conference in March, I have been preparing for this conference all night and staying up all night, but unfortunately Apple, the "king pigeon", is just like the long-rumored AirTag. .

▲ What are the health-preserving youth searching for on Baidu

Jon Prosser, a well-known whistleblower who had confirmed that Apple's press conference will be held on March 23, also shaved his eyebrows during the live broadcast as agreed because of a failed bet.

▲I am willing to bet and lose, and feel sorry for Jon Prosser for a second

The postponement of the conference should have a lot to do with the recent chip shortage. According to Nikkei Asia Review, Apple delayed the production of MacBook and iPad products due to supply shortages. Earlier Foxconn also said that due to global chip shortages, shipments are expected to decrease by 10%.

According to the latest rumors, Apple’s spring conference will not be postponed for too long, and it will most likely be held in mid-to-late April .

By convention, before presenting a summary article for the press conference, let's first predict what products will be available at the Apple Spring Conference this year, and what are their highlights.

What products may be released in the spring conference?

Let's first take a look at what new products Apple has launched at the spring conference in the past 5 years.

On March 22, 2016, Apple mainly brought two products. One is the iPhone SE, which has the shape of the iPhone 5s but uses the same chip as the iPhone 6s. The other is the 9.7-inch iPad Pro.

2017 Apple did not hold a spring new product launch, but chose to update products directly on the official website. The main highlights are the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus Red Special Edition, the memory upgrade version of the iPhone SE, and the new 9.7-inch entry-level iPad.

In 2018, Apple's spring conference returns, this time the theme is education. The new product is mainly the new 9.7-inch entry-level iPad. The biggest highlight is the support for Apple Pencil. In addition, some applications on education have been released to make the connection between iPad and education closer.

In 2019, friends who are looking forward to new hardware products may be a little disappointed, because Apple brought some subscription services at the spring conference that year. For example, Apple News+ news magazine subscription service, Apple Arcade Apple’s first game subscription service, Apple TV+ Apple original film and television content subscription service, etc. In addition, Apple Card was launched.

▲ Apple Card

In 2020, due to the impact of the epidemic, Apple cancelled the spring conference and launched new products directly on the official website. The theme of this time can be summarized as "productivity": the more powerful iPad Pro series, the new magic keyboard, the new MacBook Air and Mac mini with no increase in quantity, all quietly put on the Apple Store.

It can be seen that Apple's past spring conferences have fewer heavyweight products than WWDC and autumn conferences. Mainly the update of the iPad product line and the launch of new subscription services.

Then this year's spring conference, the iPad product line should also be routinely ushered in a new generation. In addition, according to the exposure information, the small location tracker AirTag will unveil the mystery at this conference, and the brand-new AirPods will also meet with you. There are even rumors that a full-screen iMac is also coming soon.

iPad Pro, screen and performance are the focus

Even if the 2020 iPad Pro is placed today, it is still the performance ceiling of the tablet computer industry. But we will still see the update of this product line at Apple's spring conference. The focus of the upgrade will most likely fall on performance and screen.

▲ iPad Pro 2021 rendering. Picture from: gizmochina

In terms of performance, the new iPad Pro may use A14 series chips , namely A14X (or named A14Z). According to the "Electronic Times" report, in the fourth quarter of 2020, Apple put the 5nm A14X processor into mass production and applied it to the next generation iPad Pro.

In terms of GPU performance, the rumored A14X will widen the gap from the A14 bionic chip on the iPhone 12 series, even close to the M1 chip in the Mac camp, which will make the iPad Pro more suitable for desktop-level work processing.

▲ Picture from: cnbeta

The application of such a powerful chip to the iPad can be said to be "no opponent" or "no shortcoming". However, with its current software ecosystem, I am afraid that netizens will complain about it as "unnecessary".

In terms of performance, DigiTimes also believes that the network connection of the new iPad Pro will also be upgraded, and the cellular network version will support 5G . In addition to entertainment and mobile office, some friends around me will use the iPad as a car machine, and the 5G cellular network version will be very suitable for these scenarios.

▲ Picture from: notebookcheck

In terms of screens, the slogan "LCD Never Serves" may become a thing of the past on the 11-inch iPad Pro. According to multiple sources, the 2021 iPad Pro 11-inch version will use an OLED screen. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro will go one step further, using more advanced mini-LED materials.

Compared with LCD, OLED panels have many advantages, including higher brightness and contrast, deeper blacks, better viewing angles, and so on. Mini-LED is better than OLED in terms of display effect and power consumption, and there is no risk of "burning screen".

▲Picture from: macrumors

But recently, some voices expressed disagreement with this rumor. For example, DigiTimes quoted industry sources that due to panel production capacity and other reasons, this year's 11-inch iPad Pro will still use LCD materials, but the 12.9-inch version will be changed to mini-LED. Consumers may not see the OLED version of iPad Pro until next year.

But no matter what it is said, the 12.9-inch mini-LED panel should be nailed down. According to reports, Taiwan Epistar may be the exclusive supplier of Mini LED panels in the new iPad Pro. The current production capacity is scheduled to be close to 50%, and mass shipments will begin in the second quarter of this year. And this coincides with the timing of Apple's spring conference.

In terms of appearance, according to the CAD leaks released by 91mobile and MySmartPrice, the new generation of iPad Pro has almost no changes in appearance and the thickness remains the same, but the frame is expected to be narrower.

▲Picture from: 91mobile

There are rumors that the next generation iPad Pro will change the design of the speaker, although it will follow the four speaker configuration, but will have a small open hole grid change. The news from the accessory manufacturer ESR is that each speaker of the 11-inch model has changed from 13 openings to 8-9 holes; the 12.9-inch model will be reduced from 17 holes to 11-12 holes.

▲ Picture from: MySmartPrice

There are also new revelations on the accessories. According to the description of the whistleblower "Mr. White", a new generation of Apple Pencil is about to debut . The appearance looks similar to the second generation, but the overall is shorter, and the nib is larger and longer. He also said earlier that the new Apple Pencil will have a black version.

▲ Picture from: @laobaiTD

In July last year, Apple applied for a patent for Apple Pencil. It is said that it can sample colors in the real world through a color sensor. I wonder if this new feature will appear on the third-generation Apple Pencil.

Will iPad mini 6 have a full screen?

Two years have passed since the release of the iPad mini 5, and it is time for Apple to update this important product line.

Both DigiTimes and Tianfeng International analyst Guo Mingchi believe that a new generation of iPad mini will be released in the first half of 2021, with a screen display area of ​​more than 8 inches .

▲ Picture from: dailymail

More advanced processors are the focus of the upgrade, and there will be changes in appearance, such as narrower bezels and so on.

However, there are currently two views on what will become. One voice is that the iPad mini 6 will adopt an iPad Pro-style full-screen design , and even use a mini-LED panel. This should be the result that the mini party most hope to see.

▲ Picture from: thinkapple

Another voice thinks that the new generation of iPad mini will only narrow the frame, somewhat similar to the reduced version of the iPad Air 3 . The top and bottom borders are still relatively wide, using the physical Touch ID, and the interface is still Lightning.

▲ Picture from: qasimtricks

The well-known whistleblower Sonny Dickson released a model of the new iPad on Twitter last week. Perhaps the inventory of the iPad mini 5 has not been used up. The iPad mini in the picture is not a full-screen display, but has followed the previous design. This hurts friends who are looking forward to a full screen.

▲ Picture from: Sonny Dickson

According to Guo Mingchi and other sources, Apple is indeed developing a full-screen iPad mini, but the finished product may not be available to consumers until the second half of the year. In addition, it may be called "iPad mini Pro" in the naming.

If this is the case, it is more appropriate to be a waiting party.

AirPods 3, the appearance is greatly changed

According to forecast information, the AirPods series will also be updated at this spring conference with a high probability.

Bloomberg reported that the ear handles of the third-generation AirPods will be shortened and will be equipped with silicone earmuffs like AirPods Pro. However, active noise reduction is still not supported.

▲ Picture from: appledsign

The pictures exposed by the "I Love Audio Network" show that the third-generation AirPods look like a reduced version of AirPods Pro . Due to the in-ear design, it will be equipped with a decompression system similar to AirPods Pro to balance the pressure in the ears and reduce the discomfort of in-ear headphones.

▲ Picture from: Picture from: I love audio network

However, in the exposure picture of "I Love Audio Network", although AirPods 3 looks a lot like AirPods Pro, it does not have the design of silicone earplugs like the latter, which is a semi-in-ear shape .

▲ Picture from: I love audio network

In terms of configuration, AirPods 3 will use the latest H2 chip . Based on the ambient light sensor on the top, AirPods 3 may have a blood oxygen detection function similar to that on Apple Watch 6. This should be a good selling point, and it is also in line with the "health" theme that Apple has pursued in recent years.

Regarding AirPods Pro, some media previously predicted the new shape. The rendering shows that the new AirPods Pro cancels the headphone handle and becomes a "noise reduction bean." Regarding the impact of this change on users, we have also interpreted it as soon as the news broke.

▲ Picture from: theapplehub

However, it seems unlikely that AirPods Pro will become a "noise reduction bean". In addition, this conference should only have AirPods 3, and the new generation of AirPods Pro may meet with you in the second half of the year at the earliest.

AirTag, the dust will settle

Since 2019, after Apple bought the AirTag trademark from a Russian company that specializes in radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, almost every press conference has been certain that it will be unveiled.

However, every time the rumors are frustrated, AirTag has become the number one mysterious "person" of Apple. As the spring conference is approaching, news about AirTag has sprung up.

▲ Picture from: iculture

The first is a report from Tianfeng International analyst Guo Mingchi, who is convinced that Apple will release AirTag this year. In addition, relevant clues are frequently revealed in the latest iOS beta system.

For example, in the iOS 14.5 Beta 3 beta system, users can see item options in the "Find" application, and support to search for non-Apple products, that is, search through third-party accessories. This accessory is probably AirTag.

In the iOS 14.5 Beta 7 version of the system, Apple has added a "find" network that can be used by third parties. Third-party accessories such as Belkin, Chipolo and VanMoof have already started to use this technology and will soon provide products that use this feature. This can also be regarded as a signal to promote AirTag.

Regarding the appearance and function of AirTag, we can piece together a rough look from scattered rumors. First of all, it may be a round patch design, like a small plate .

▲ Picture from: ilounge

Users can attach AirTag to any accessories and objects, such as power banks, remote controls, etc., to prevent loss . For example, after the user leaves a certain distance from the AirTag, the mobile phone will receive a notification and emit an alert tone. The user can also set a "safe location" so that when leaving an item within this range, the phone will not send out a loss reminder.

▲ Picture from: techthelead

In addition, it seems that AirTag will also use augmented reality (AR) technology . "Find My" may include an ARKit interface. Users can find nearby items in 3D mode. The system will mark the possible locations of items with balloon icons. , This may be particularly convenient for models equipped with LiDAR.

What can I expect?

In addition to the more likely new iPad Pro, iPad mini, AirPods 3 and AirTag, there are some rumors that Apple TV, the newly designed iMac and other product lines will also be updated.

Bloomberg's Mark Gurman published a post at the end of last year, saying that Apple TV will usher in a replacement in 2021. But he did not specify the specific time point.

▲ Picture from: 9to5mac

It is expected that the new Apple TV will focus on upgrading the processor and remote control.

The latest Apple TV has been released for 5 years, and the A10X chip appears to be relatively old. The new generation of Apple TV may use A12 or even newer chips to improve performance and have better support features for games. In addition, the storage capacity will also be upgraded from 32GB to 64GB.

In terms of configuration, the new Apple TV may be equipped with an HDMI 2.1 interface. 9to5Mac found that in the latest TVOS 14.5 Beta firmware, Apple added a number of character references about "120Hz", which means that the new Apple TV may have an HDMI 2.1 interface that supports 4K 120Hz content output .

▲Picture from: applespbevent

The remote control of Apple TV has been criticized for a long time. The new generation of Apple TV may be equipped with a newly designed remote control . According to 9to5Mac reports, a source revealed that Apple is developing a new Apple TV remote code-named B519. (The internal code of the current version of the remote control is B439).

In addition, as early as August last year, Bloomberg reported that Apple was developing a remote control for the new Apple TV and was able to find lost items through the "Find My" application, which means that the remote control will no longer be afraid of slipping into the sofa. .

As for what the new remote control looks like, there is currently no reliable rendering. There is an exaggerated statement that the new remote control will have a small screen to facilitate human-computer interaction.

▲It looks a little too idealistic

In addition to Apple TV, there are more and more rumors about the new generation of iMac. Based on news from Bloomberg and other sources, the appearance of the new iMac has changed drastically, with a narrower frame on the front face and a flat back from a curved back. The color scheme is also richer, similar to the color scheme of the fourth-generation iPad Air.

▲ Picture from: gizmochina

What is more worth looking forward to is that the new iMac will be equipped with Apple M series chips . It may be an iterative version of the M1 chip, and its performance may break the ladder again.

▲ Picture from: cultofmac

However, we believe that the probability of an iMac debut at the spring conference is relatively low, and it is more likely to be launched at WWDC 2021 two months later.

On the whole, the highlights of Apple's spring conference are quite adequate. The product line to be updated is also the most comprehensive in recent years. The portable tracker AirTag may be the freshest and cheapest product at this conference.

No matter what new products Apple will bring in the spring release, or whether Apple does not develop the announcement directly on the official website, we will follow up and interpret it as soon as possible, so stay tuned.

TalkFresh. Work email: wanghelong@ifanr.com.

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