We haven’t seen many new products from Apple this year. The company debuted a new 9.7-inch iPad aimed at the education market back in March. It updated the MacBook Pro in July. Otherwise, it’s kept its public focus on periodic software updates for iOS and macOS. Apple’s quiet on the hardware front is about to change, though. We’re expecting to see a number of new products—ranging from minor updates to major overhauls—this fall. New iPhones (of course), new iPad Pros, and a whole lot on the Mac front are on the horizon. If you’ve been in the market for a new Mac but have waited patiently for a worthwhile update, this could be your year.
Information about the fall lineup has started to trickle out, and informed Apple watchers predict an action-packed season. We should expect a new “low-cost” MacBook—what could be a long-awaited follow-up to the MacBook Air—alongside a professional-level Mac mini revamp, according to a report from Bloomberg. These products haven’t been truly upgraded in years and would give Apple a leg up against competitors with cheaper notebooks and desktop solutions. A report from Ming-Chi Kuo, a respected Apple analyst at TF International Securities, suggested we’ll be getting a veritable smörgasbord of Apple updates this fall: new iPhones, bezelless iPads, new AirPods, a new Apple Watch, and even more additions to the Mac lineup. Kuo also expects Apple to update its MacBook, iMac, Mac mini, and the MacBook Air before the end of the year.
For many, the big update of the year will be the new iPhone. This time around, we’re expecting three different models: a budget 6.1-inch model that costs roughly half the price of an iPhone X and 5.8-inch and 6.5-inch OLED iPhones that are successors to the iPhone X. For photography buffs, that largest phone could feature three camera lenses on back. The phones are expected to come in new color variants as well as have improved internal specs—faster processors, better battery life, and perhaps higher screen resolution.
Once the new iPhone is introduced, it’ll be Mac season, and a new Mac mini could be particularly exciting. The cheapest and most accessible in the Mac lineup, it hasn’t been updated since 2014. The device, in its current form, resembles a large brushed aluminum Apple TV. But connect it to a display, keyboard, and other peripherals, and you’ve got a “new” desktop for only $500. The pint-size desktop machine will reportedly gain additional storage and updated processor options; it could also get a fresh new look. Mini PCs are a favorite among those short on space but in need of a powerful machine. Alienware, Acer, Lenovo, and other companies all make options in the space ranging from $50 to $1,000. But for an Apple-made desktop computer, the Mac mini is one of the most cost-effective options for consumers.
The MacBook Air has remained largely unchanged for several years, and its last minor upgrade, a midsummer spec bump last year, was not met with critical excitement. The Air’s form factor and price have made it a favorite portable notebook for many, but its lack of a Retina display has been one strike against it for consumers. In July, Kuo reported that the Air would be replaced with a new budget laptop, which seems to indicate a new laptop line could take the Air’s place. Bloomberg offers additional details here: It says that the 13-inch device will look similar to the MacBook Air but with thinner bezels surrounding its display. Its screen will also be one of the company’s high-resolution Retina displays. The notebook will be the cheapest option in Apple’s laptop lineup and will be targeted at budget buyers and the education space, an area where Apple has lost ground as Chromebooks have emerged as a cheap, popular alternative.
There’s also good reason to expect something from the iMac this year. It only saw a minor spec bump last summer, playing second fiddle to the iMac Pro, the “most powerful Mac ever,” which went on sale in December. The standard iMac, which last saw a redesign in 2014, may be ready for its turn. It would also be timely: The iconic jewel-toned iMac celebrated its 20th anniversary in March. Thus far, there aren’t any indications that a playful throwback-style iMac is in the works, but a dreamer can dream. If Apple sticks with the super slim aluminum unibody styling of the iMac, we’d likely only expect internal processor, storage, and graphics bumps.
There are a couple things we’re not expecting come fall: a new MacBook Pro, for one. Apple updated this Mac staple back in July with a new True Tone display, a third-generation butterfly-switch keyboard that’s quieter and less clacky than earlier versions, and a few internal spec bumps. It’s also got a larger battery, faster RAM, and an updated fingerprint sensor. We’re also not expecting a new Mac Pro, a high-end desktop rig that last saw a spec bump in 2017. Apple is reportedly giving this Mac a big update next year.
If you’re in the market for a new Apple anything—Apple Watch, AirPods, iPad, or iPhone—this fall should bring new options. But the Mac, in particular, looks poised for a big year. For a nice compromise on top-level performance and portability, you can already grab a new MacBook Pro starting at $1,299 for the 13-inch model and $2,399 for the 15-inch version. If you want a new pro-level desktop setup, you could opt for one of Apple’s current offerings like the iMac Pro or hold out to see if this fall brings compelling updates in that department. And if you’re in the market for an ultraportable or more budget-friendly Mac, you’ll want to wait. With its next media event coming soon (last year its iPhone keynote took place Sept. 12), it’s possible we could see some of these updates in less than a month. It’s also possible they wait until November, if Apple holds a second Mac-focused event. Regardless of when these new products debut, it’s clear that 2018 will be a big year for the Mac.