One of Apple’s great virtues is its predictability. The company’s annual routine hasn’t changed all that much in the last five years or so, meaning fans can plan their purchases (and journalists can plan their coverage) weeks or months in advance, even without knowing every specific detail about every announcement.
As such, we have a decent idea of what to expect from Apple in the new year, even if we haven’t seen the fine print yet. We’ll almost certainly get some combination of new iPhones, iPads, Macbooks, and Apple Watches this year, and we can even map out when we’ll probably hear about all these things.
So, without further adieu, here’s a basic outline of what 2020 will likely look like for Apple.
First, a timeline
A new decade could bring change, but if not, expect somewhere between two and four big events from Apple this year. It’s not exactly the same each year, but it’s close enough to it that we can safely make some predictions.
First up is the spring event. Apple usually (but not always) holds a stage show sometime in March to show off basically anything that doesn’t fit in their other annual events. Sometimes we learn about new hardware (but not the newest iPhones), sometimes we learn about services like Apple TV+.
That one is kind of a wild card, but it’s more likely than not that Apple will host an event in March. Less of a wild card is the Worldwide Developers Conference, or WWDC. This is typically Apple’s big software showcase every June, so expect to see new versions of iOS, macOS, and other software upgrades in the summer.
However, don’t be shocked to see hardware at WWDC, too. It happens sometimes. That said, the real juicy hardware reveals happen at the annual September event. This is new iPhone season, in case you didn’t know. It can also be new iPad and new Apple Watch season, but we’re really here for the phones.
Apple also occasionally holds an event between September and the end of the calendar year, but you can’t always count on that. It didn’t happen in 2019, for example. If there are any new products that don’t fit into the other three usual event slots, they can show up at this one.
Like I said, Apple always reveals its hot new iPhones every September. We’ll get to those in a second, but first, it’s worth noting that we’ll probably hear about a new iPhone SE earlier in 2020. The budget iPhone won’t come packed with all the bells and whistles you’d find in an iPhone 11 Pro, but it also won’t break the bank at a rumored price of $399. We could learn more in March.
Back to the matter at hand, details about the new iPhones being revealed in September are somewhat scarce. Leaks indicate the “iPhone 12” might go all the way up to 6.7-inches, which is larger than the 11 Pro Max. There might be three new phones or there might be four new phones, depending on which way the rumor mill is spinning at any given moment.
Aside from possible OLED screens and more camera enhancements, expect 2020’s iPhones to be 5G-ready for the first time. We’re not sure if all of them will have 5G capabilities or even connect to the same types of 5G networks, but it’s going to happen in some form or another. It’s the easiest prediction to make about Apple’s 2020 plans right now.
Tablets and computers!
Apple made sure the $6,000 Mac Pro just barely reached the finish line for 2019, so we probably don’t need to worry about that for 2020. Consensus based on leaks and common sense seems to be that we’ll get a new Macbook Pro in the 13- or 14-inch range. The 16-inch variant got a refresh with a better keyboard, so here’s hoping the smaller new one gets the same upgrade.
As for Apple’s flagship tablet, don’t be surprised if we see a new iPad Pro with the same triple-camera capabilities of the iPhone 11 Pro in 2020. Yes, that means there might be a camera bump, if leaks are to be believed. Otherwise, it looks like a new iPad. Hooray.
One thing that’s possible for 2020 but perhaps more likely for 2021 is a new iPad with Mini-LED tech powering the screen. In layman’s terms, the screen will look way nicer. The Mini-LED iPad and a Mini-LED Macbook Pro could launch late 2020 or early 2021, according to rumors.
Last but not least, Apple refreshed the iMac in early 2019 but didn’t do much to rock the boat. This could be the year for a real update to the iMac line, but it’s not guaranteed.
All this hardware doesn’t matter if the software under the hood isn’t impressive or at least interesting. To reiterate, WWDC in June will be the place to look for news about iOS, macOS, tvOS, iPadOS, and watchOS.
We’ll find out more about all these things as we get closer to June, but for now, details are pretty thin. A recent Bloomberg report highlighted development and testing changes for the next iOS, but we don’t know many specifics about what new features will be included yet. The story is similar for the operating systems powering Apple’s other devices.
We’ll just have to wait until June.
This is where we’ll talk about miscellaneous Apple products and services that could reasonably show up at any of the events we’ve talked about so far. Apple leaned hard into services in 2019 with Apple TV+ and Apple Arcade, but we still don’t know how Apple plans to market or update those services going forward.
Maybe we’ll see more video game and TV show trailers at Apple stage shows going forward, but maybe we won’t. Apple could also update the Apple TV hardware in the new year.
It’s a safe bet that we’ll get Apple Watch Series 6 in 2020, probably with more fitness and health features, if the wearable’s recent trajectory is any indication. We also thought Apple would show off its Tile-like device intended to help people keep track of their things in case they get lost in 2019, but we never saw it. If it exists, we’ll see it in 2020.
Finally, we also got new versions of the regular AirPods as well as the noise-canceling AirPods Pro in 2019. It’s reasonable to assume there will be some kind of new AirPods in the new year, but whether they’ll be severe upgrades or incremental refreshes remains to be seen.
And there you have it. If Apple has anything beyond what we’ve already discussed to show off in 2020, we don’t know about it yet. Maybe there will be a car, or AR glasses, or one of those AI-powered robot dogs. Just don’t expect to see AirPower.