Apple – one of the world’s most valuable public companies – is poised to host its first product launch event of the year on March 8, when it is expected to introduce several keenly-awaited devices.
The company, based in Cupertino, California, is likely to release the next-generation version of one of its cheapest smartphones, the iPhone SE, as well as redesigned tablets and laptops through its virtual "peak performance" event.
Market chatter and Apple enthusiasts believe the performance of new devices has been improved, with better chips and processors. Apple does not confirm upcoming product names ahead of its events.
The event, to be held at the Steve Jobs Theatre on the Apple Park campus in California, will be live streamed on the company’s website because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In September, Apple launched its new iPhone 13 series, Apple Watch 7 and new iPads.
Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference, where developers can attend sessions and meet its engineers is likely to be held in June, as it was last year. The event has been a launchpad for software updates for the iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch.
Here is a rundown on what to expect this Tuesday based on market chatter and leaks.
Next generation iPhone SE
Apple is expected to launch its lowest cost 5G smartphone, the iPhone SE 3, that will come with improved battery life, faster processors and better cameras.
This move could help the company to attract budget-conscious buyers as it tries to wrestle market share from rivals Samsung and Xiaomi.
The new phone will be the third-generation iPhone SE. The first model was launched in 2016 with a starting price of Dh1,466 ($399), but was discontinued in September 2018. The second model was introduced in April 2020 at Dh1,699 ($463) and is one of Appel's biggest-selling products.
The iPhone SE 3 will have the same design as its predecessor, according to industry experts. The current model comes in an iPhone 8 body with iPhone 11 Pro processing power. The company is expected to use its own A15 bionic chips that are currently used in the iPhone 13.
To attract a larger pool of budget-conscious consumers, Apple is expected to keep the price of the new phone at $399, lower than its cheapest 5G smartphone, the iPhone 12 Mini, which starts at $599.
It will be the company's most affordable 5G iPhone, according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who closely follows the company. He expects the company to sell 25 million to 30 million units of the iPhone SE 3 this year.
Apple is likely to roll out the revamped iPad Air to attract more users. The new device will come with 5G connectivity and a faster chip to boost the overall performance of the device.
To ensure better video calls, the new tablet’s camera will support "centre stage" feature that ensures users are in the right frame even if they are walking or moving around in the room.
Apple is also planning to upgrade the iPad Pro with a new design and wireless charging support, according to Bloomberg.
New features and innovative technology are likely to be added to iPads because the tablet is the only product segment that experienced a decline in sales in the last quarter. iPad sales dropped about 14 per cent year on year to a little over $7.2 billion in the holiday quarter that ended on December 25.
The market expects Apple to launch a higher-end version of the Mac mini to draw more professional users. It is likely to come with a new design and the company’s own M1 Pro and M1 Max chips that were launched in October and replace the Mac minis that use Intel chips.
The company is also expected to launch a revamped 13-inch MacBook Pro with the new M2 chip.
Unlocking iPhone with face masks on
Apple recently rolled out the fifth beta of its latest operating system iOS 15.4. The final update is likely to arrive on consumer devices on the event day or by mid-March. It will offer many new features, such as a Face ID facial recognition system that works with masks and can recognise unique features around the eye for verification.
Competitors such as Samsung are already offering users the option to use only an iris scan to unlock their devices and bypass masks.
Face ID allows users to unlock the iPhone, log in to supported apps and services and verify purchases on the App Store and other compatible platforms. The technology, using the iPhone's TrueDepth front camera, combines data from the user's eyes and other features.
How to watch the Apple event
The event will start at 10pm UAE time on Tuesday. Viewers can tune in at apple.com
It will also be streamed on YouTube and through the Apple TV application for the iPhone, iPad and Mac.
When can consumers buy the new Apple products?
Industry experts predict that consumers will be able to place orders for new Apple products from Friday, and expect deliveries by the end of this month.
However, they believe many of the company's products may not be announced until the end of this year. In January, Bloomberg reported that Apple may launch "the widest array of new hardware products in its history" later this year. The company usually launches its new iPhones and smartwatches in September every year.