As a daily Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch user, when receiving a new product from Apple, the first impulse is definitely to open the box and start setting up the device right away. Getting something new and shiny is always exciting! So if you’re lucky enough to receive a package like this for the holidays this week, that’s awesome and you should enjoy it.
Unless, of course, you’re interested in waiting a little longer, hoping for something significantly better. There’s good reason to believe that 2020 will be a big year for Apple’s new products, perhaps even the biggest in Apple’s history. Several existing product lines, including the iPhone and Mac, are undergoing major changes, and there may even be an entirely new category of Apple devices (AR glasses), or at least a public preview.
Here’s what you need to know before you decide to buy or give away an Apple product in late 2019.
While these details fall into the realm of “rumor and speculation,” Apple’s iPhone lineup is widely expected to undergo a major overhaul in 2020, including improvements to key features that typically kick off upgraded supercycles. The current flagships, the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro, are expected to be redesigned as the iPhone 12, with larger screens, stronger 5G cellular capabilities, and better cameras. There are even rumors that Apple may remove the “notch” on the front screens of these devices. Separately, there is news that the iPhone 8 will evolve into an entry-level “iPhone SE2” or “iPhone 9” with an improved internal chip.
Should you wait to buy these devices? It’s up to you. But if I plan to upgrade my phone in 2019 or 2020, I’ll wait for the iPhone 12, because I don’t want to be using a phone that doesn’t support the faster and more available 5G network for years to come.
There’s hardly been any accurate information about Apple’s next-generation iPad Pros, but they typically have a one-and-a-half year upgrade cycle. Since the current iPad Pro was released in 2018 with no updates or price changes during 2019, this effectively guarantees that new and improved models will be available in 2020, most likely in the first half of the year.
Historically, Apple would happily reuse previous industrial designs if they served users well. And now the iPad Pro is widely praised for its relatively small size, light weight, and face ID without a cutout. In the coming year, word is that they will follow the iPhone in getting multiple rear cameras and may see a considerable performance boost, possibly moving from last year’s A12X Bionic to the next-generation A14 series chips based on the 5nm process .
A shift to 5G cellular technology is also possible in 2020, as well as a possible shift to more advanced screen technology (whether mini LED or OLED). Regardless, I absolutely love the 11-inch iPad Pro I bought in 2018, and I’m definitely putting off buying it at this point, at least not until 2020 for older hardware.
Apple Watch Series 6
Last year’s Apple Watch Series 4 was the first major top-to-bottom redesign of the Apple family, a product that upgraded everything from the screen to the chips and sensors. This year’s Apple Watch Series 5 is one of the smallest updates in the product’s history: no CPU upgrades, no design upgrades, just two new features.
No one knows what the Series 6 will look like, but rumor has it that there could be a new micro-LED screen, which could make the watch thinner and allow for longer battery life, brighter visuals, and more accurate colors. Apple unusually skipped processor improvements in 2019, which also set the stage for a big boost in S-series chips in 2020.
Wild card player: Apple TV 8K or 4K+
It’s hard to know what Apple will do with the next Apple TV. The first two generations (currently known as Apple TV HD and Apple TV 4K) ranged in price from $149 to $199 and didn’t seem to make much of a difference in the market. Instead of bringing prices back to $69 or $99 for entry-level products like the third-generation Apple TV, or releasing streaming devices like Roku or Amazon Fire TV, Apple stuck with pricier devices, But sales of these devices have not been ideal.
Assuming Apple continues to be in the streaming TV hardware business, support for 8K video output could be the next step as TVs begin to transition to higher-resolution standards. Doing so would require a faster CPU/GPU than the current A10X Fusion (probably A12X or A13 Bionic), as well as updating the current tvOS interface and apps to support these screens.
I’m calling it a “wild card” because there are rumors that a refresh of the Apple TV hardware will start in early 2020, but considering there are only a few TV and 8K content providers out there right now, Apple will have to catch up to 8K. trend is too early. This can be expected to change starting with the 2020 Summer Olympics. The company could release another 4K model with its long-awaited teleconferencing feature similar to Facebook’s Portal TV, and of course it could do nothing this year.
Improved MacBook, ARM chips and 2020 iMac
As a Mac user with kids, this holiday season was especially tough, as I received some wish orders for Macs that I was reluctant to buy. My eldest daughter is ready to buy a MacBook, but after many repairs to the butterfly keyboard, I won’t buy or recommend anyone else buy a MacBook until the problem is completely fixed. Apple only belatedly started the fix last month with the 16-inch MacBook Pro, and it’s expected to roll out on other models starting in 2020.
The bigger problem for Apple’s entire Mac lineup is the transition from Intel chips to Apple’s own ARM processors, a move expected to deliver massive performance and energy efficiency gains. While this will start in 2020, it’s unlikely to happen like a bolt from the blue, starting with consumer computers (like the MacBook Air) and then expanding to Pro models.
On the positive side, if your Mac uses an Intel chip, you can run classic Windows apps through Boot Camp or an emulator, which ARM-based Macs may not be able to do. But beyond that, Mac laptops with Apple-designed chips are likely to get better battery life, faster boot times, and higher-quality graphics than iPads, even on entry-level PCs. are possible to achieve.
How the transition from Intel to Apple will affect other computers like the iMac is unclear. Rumors of a major iMac redesign have persisted for years, and an A-series or similar chip could make the next-generation all-in-one thinner and lighter than Apple’s previous generation of consumer displays. Whether this will happen in 2020 or 2021 remains to be seen.
Wild card player: AR glasses
The company hasn’t confirmed this, but there’s plenty of evidence that Apple is working on AR glasses that rely on the iPhone, much like Qualcomm’s AR glasses rely on Android phones. While a report in late 2017 suggested the hardware could arrive in 2020, recent claims suggest it will be 2022 or later. That’s hardly comparable to iOS 13’s support for AR headsets. But anything is possible.
Regardless of when the hardware hits the market, Apple typically uses months of exposure to build momentum, attract developers, and gain regulatory approval before a new product is released. If AR glasses hit the market in 2021, we’ll likely see them at an event in 2020, just as the Apple Watch was released in 2014 before it hit the market in 2015. But if they really won’t be revealed until 2022, the official reveal may not be until 2021.
It’s clear from all the possible product launches above that Apple won’t need AR glasses to create excitement in 2020. But the status quo is that companies like Qualcomm-backed Nreal have struck deals with mobile operators in China, Germany and Japan to bring phone-tethered AR headsets to market in 2020. Apple therefore needs to make a decision whether to appear as an “innovator” as soon as possible, or later, and deal with the consequences.
In any case, for 2020, we all have plenty of reasons to save some Apple Store gift cards and spare cash. If possible, wait until 2020!