From AirPower to the biggest iPhone yet: all the new Apple hardware we expect this year

We’re now two months into 2018 and possibly just days away from Apple releasing new products, so let’s take a look at all the new hardware we expect Apple to release this year. From new iPhones to upgraded iPads and unreleased products and features we’ve already seen announced, there’s a lot on the table this year.

Based on predictions from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and reporting from Bloomberg, we currently expect Apple to release three new flagship iPhones in the fall: a new 5.8-inch OLED iPhone that will replace the iPhone X, a medium-sized 6.1-inch LCD iPhone that will replace the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, and an even larger 6.5-inch OLED iPhone that will serve as a Plus version of the iPhone X replacement.

There’s still a lot left to learn about the follow-up to the iPhone X, but we have a few expectations for both the 6.1-inch and 6.5-inch iPhones.

Replacing the 4.7-inch LCD and 5.5-inch LCD iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus will be an all-new size with the 6.1-inch model which is expected to retain the older display technology but adopt the all-screen design of the iPhone X. LCD over OLED should help keep the cost down, and Apple is also expected to only include a single rear camera and no 3D Touch pressure sensitive display features to maintain a $700-$800 price. Whatever Apple decides to call this iPhone, it will likely prove popular with its bigger display, cheaper price, and iPhone X style which includes Face ID and no Home button and large bezels.

As for the even larger 6.5-inch OLED iPhone, a new report this week claims the screen resolution could be 1242 x 2688 with Apple considering a dual SIM card option in at least some markets. Both the new 5.8-inch OLED iPhone and the first 6.5-inch OLED iPhone could also include a gold color option joining the current silver and space gray options.

A big question mark for this spring is whether or not we’ll see a second generation iPhone SE. Apple introduced the current iPhone SE two years ago, then upgraded the storage options while maintaining the same prices a year later.

We’ve seen sporadic and loosely sourced rumors claiming wireless charging and an all-glass back could be coming, but those rumors have been discounted by more likely claims that a processor upgrade could be the only change this year — if that even happens.

Apple has used the spring timeframe to introduce its lower priced products, so it’s possible we’ll know the answer to the iPhone SE 2018 question between March and June.

Apple may be preparing to refresh the iPad lineup as soon as March, but likely only on entry-level models. Apple released the $329 9.7-inch iPad around this time last year with no event keynote, and now regulatory filings provide evidence that a new version of that iPad could be coming in a matter of days.

Technically, the filings point to two new iPad models, but we suspect this means Wi-Fi and LTE versions per usual. At least one report claims Apple is targeting a $259 price tag for the 2018 entry-level refresh. Apple still sells the 7.9-inch iPad mini 4 as well, but that size starts at $399 for 128GB.

At the high-end, we expect Apple to introduce two new iPad Pro models later this fall. New 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch iPads could feature a new design with slimmer bezels, no Home button, and Face ID like the iPhone X and fall 2018 iPhones.

Apple last updated the iPad Pro lineup in June 2017, but we don’t expect this year’s refresh to happen until later in the year. The original 12.9-inch iPad Pro was well over a year old at that point, and the 9.7-inch iPad Pro was just over a year old as well at that point — Apple has a little more time to wait to introduce new iPad Pros this time.

Apple may also be planning upgrades to the Apple Pencil this year as well.

In the short-term, we can probably expect new Apple Watch band color options to debut in the spring (and some fall color options to be discontinued), but rumors are light on new Apple Watch hardware.

One interesting detail that surfaced last year but didn’t quite pan out is the possibility of a new Apple Watch design for the first time since the original.

Apple could introduce an Apple Watch Series 4 in the fall and tout a new design as its biggest feature. Since the original Apple Watch, new features like GPS, LTE, brighter displays, waterproofing, and significant speed boosts have served as upgrades, but Apple hasn’t toyed much with the way it looks.

New features like sleep tracking, an improved built-in speaker, even better battery life, and an always-on solution for displaying the time would absolutely be welcome, but a new look would certainly give holdouts a reason to upgrade too.

Apple currently sells the Apple Watch Series 1 and two versions of Series 3 — one with LTE and one without — so it’s possible Apple could play around with the overall lineup as well. Series 1 and Series 4 could certainly coexist, but there may be room for a different mix of features for the entry-level after the refresh (Series 4 and Series 5?).

The biggest news in the Mac space is the possibility of Apple unveiling and/or releasing its new modular Mac Pro and pro Apple display. Apple has repeatedly teased out a super powerful Mac Pro that can be updated unlike the 2013 Mac Pro, but Apple hasn’t promised a ship date (or year) yet. Optimistically, we could see a teaser at WWDC 2018 in June and see a release in December (like the 2013 Mac Pro and last year’s iMac Pro), but there are certainly no guarantees about either yet.

There are also rumors of three new Macs with special coprocessors in development, a new entry-level 13-inch MacBook, and the possibility of existing Macs being refreshed throughout the year. Apple launched the iMac Pro in December, new MacBooks and MacBook Pros in June, and new iMacs in June last year; updating (or discontinuing) the aging Mac mini and MacBook Air is always a possibility too.

Finally, we know Apple’s new AirPower charging mat is coming sometime in 2018 based on their preview announcement last fall. AirPower will support wirelessly charging up to three compatible devices simultaneously including iPhone 8 and later, Apple Watch Series 3 and later, and AirPods.

That brings us to the next piece of hardware announced for release sometime this year: a new AirPods charging case that works with AirPower. The current charging case only charges with a Lightning cable, but Apple previewed its tweaked AirPods case that will work with AirPower last fall.

Now for the unannounced but rumored products: second-generation AirPods that will include more than just a tweaked charging case. New AirPods expected later this year are rumored to include an upgraded processor that supports activating Siri with your voice; the current version of AirPods relies on a double tap gesture for activating Siri (or invoking Siri on a paired iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, or Mac).

More recently a rumor has surfaced claiming Apple is also working on new high-end over-ear headphones that will feature AirPods technology and not be Beats branded.

These are rumored to be released toward the end of the year, but they’re not announced and not guaranteed to make the cut for 2018. As for the name, it’s too bad EarPods is already used by the wired version of AirPods… perhaps Apple could repurpose that name for their new headphones.

Updated AirPods and new headphones help round out Apple’s audio products following the February launch of the HomePod smart speaker. Apple originally planned to release HomePod in December, but moved the launch date back (likely hoping it could finish AirPlay 2; it has not) so no new HomePod is expected this year. Similar to Apple TV, it’s likely we’ll wait a few years in between hardware upgrades for HomePod.

And speaking of Apple TV, the product was refreshed last fall with the Apple TV 4K which came about two years after the fourth-gen Apple TV. The product could certainly stand for a few price adjustments — especially if Apple is going to continue selling the slower, 1080p version — but no new hardware is expected this year.

Instead, both HomePod and Apple TV stand to benefit from Apple finishing AirPlay 2 and shipping both multi-room and stereo playback support for the new smart speaker.


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