Apple’s having an event next Monday. We’re going to be on the ground to cover everything the company has to offer, but as usual leakers and rumor sites have outed most of the biggest potential announcements.
To get you prepared for the big event, we’ve rounded up the most likely rumors and added our own educated guesses and commentary. Check back on Monday to follow along with our liveblog and all of our post-event coverage.
Return of the 4-inch iPhone
Fans of smaller phones (“smaller” in this case meaning “less than 4.7 inches”) haven’t had many flagships to look forward to in the last couple of years, aside from stuff like the Xperia Compact series. Apple’s larger phones have been great for sales, but people who actually liked the size of the iPhone 5 and 5S haven’t had anything to upgrade to in a while.
Enter the “iPhone SE,” a 4-inch model that will supposedly combine the size and screen resolution of the iPhone 5 series with specs imported from the iPhone 6 and 6S. The most reliable rumors suggest it will use an Apple A9 SoC (possibly at a lower clock speed than the A9 in the larger iPhones, similar to the A8 in the sixth-generation iPod Touch) and the NFC hardware necessary to support Apple Pay. The phone will use either the 8MP camera sensor from the iPhone 6 or the 12MP sensor from the iPhone 6S, and either way it will be able to take Live Photos Ã la the iPhone 6S. It will also reportedly support the always-on Hey Siri feature from the 6S, but itÂ isn’t expected to includeÂ the pressure-sensitive 3D Touch display technology, possibly because there isn’t enough room in a smaller iPhone 5-esque enclosure for the necessary Taptic Engine hardware.
As of this writing, the phone is expected in 16GB (ugh) and 64GB capacities and will supposedly replace the $450 unlocked iPhone 5S at the bottom of the lineup. It’s then expected to keep that spot when the so-called “iPhone 7” is introduced in the fall, while the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus will fall to the middle tier, and the iPhone 6 will be discontinued.
Rumors about the phone’s physical design have been all over the placeâ€”it could look exactly like an iPhone 5S with new internals, it could resemble a shrunken iPhone 6, or it could fall somewhere in between the two. We’ll know for sure in a few days. In any case, rumors indicate that it will be sold in the same space grey, silver, gold, and rose gold finishes as the iPhone 6S.
Return of the 9.7-inch iPad
The iPad Air 2 hasn’t been touched since October of 2014, and it wasn’t refreshed alongside the iPad Mini 4 and iPad Pro back in the fall. Next week, Apple is expected to remedy that with a new 9.7-inch tabletÂ that’s basically an iPad Pro Mini.
On the inside, rumors say to expect an A9X chip, possibly with more than the 2GB of RAM included in the iPad Air 2. On the outside, we may see a Smart Connector that will allow the use of Smart Keyboard-like accessories and a revamped screen that supports the Apple Pencil. The camera hardware will supposedly get an upgrade, picking up a 12MP sensor capable of 4K video recording and possibly an LED flash (though these typically aren’t included on iPads).
We’ll have to wait on Apple to give us final pricing information, but like the iPad Pro this new iPad will supposedly come in 32GB and 64GB capacities. The iPad Air 2 may be discounted and sold as the low-end iPad in place of the original iPad Air, which doesn’t have enough RAM to support the full range of multitasking capabilities introduced inÂ iOS 9.
Some Apple Watch updates, but no updated Apple Watch
We’re about a year out from the introduction of the first Apple Watch, but rumors say not to expect an all-new model just yet. We’re more likely to hear about new bands, including a few new band and color options from Apple itself and more cooperation with luxury brands like HermÃ¨s. A new line of nylon straps from Apple is the biggest rumored addition. The “Apple Watch 2” will follow later in the year, possibly around September.
Apple has been beta testing iOS 9.3, OS X 10.11.4, tvOS 9.2, and WatchOS 2.2 in earnest since January, and the software updates will likely either be released or will get an official release date at the event.
The iOS and tvOS updates are the most significant. iOS gets an education-exclusive multi-user mode for iPads, a more secure Notes app, an f.lux-esque Night Shift mode, and a few other minor tweaks. tvOS will pick up Siri-powered dictation to help with text input, as well as support for folders on the home screen. This will likely be the final consequentialÂ update to all of these platforms until the fall; we usually learn about new major OS versions from Apple at WWDC in June.
Maybe Macs? But maybe not.
Most of Apple’s MacBooks are due to get Intel’s new Skylake processors and chipsets, which promise slightly improved CPU performance, more significantly improved GPU performance, DDR4 support, and a few other enhancements. Processors suitable for the MacBook, MacBook Air (if it survives another year), 13-inch MacBook Pros, and Mac Minis are already shipping today, and beefier processors for the 15-inch MacBook Pros and 21.5-inch iMacs are due in the next month or two. And, hey, it has already been three years since our last Mac Pro update, so that could drop at any time.
Even though most ofÂ the lineup is due for a refresh, rumors say that the chances are slim. Indeed, the Mac has gotten relatively little stage time at any of Apple’s events latelyâ€”in past years October events have focused on the iPad and the Mac, but in 2015 Apple forewent an October event in favor of a larger-than-usual September blowout that introduced new iPhones, the iPad Pro, the new Apple TV, and some WatchOS updates while barely mentioning the Mac or OS X at all.
Recently, many Macs have been introduced quietly via press release rather than at events. It’s frustrating for Mac fans, though to the wider market it usually doesn’t seem to make much of a difference. Mac sales are reliable and don’t seem to go up or down much in response to new introductions or stale products, so there’s not a lot ofÂ pressure to make noise about them. If we don’t see new Macs on Monday, we might see them introduced quietly not long after or introduced onstage at WWDC, in front of a room full of developersÂ who need fast Macs to do their jobs.