What has Apple got up its sleeve for 2023?


n 2022, Apple played it pretty safe in terms of products, with the usual annual improvements to the iPhone and Apple Watch accompanied by updates to the Mac and iPad lines. Only the Mac Studio and accompanying Studio Display went slightly beyond the comfort zone.

But 2023 promises to be different. Sure, there are plenty of familiar products in the mix, but we’re expecting a few more wildcards, including a whole new product category to get excited about (if you have the money… it’s going to be pricey).

The wildcards

An Apple VR concept by designer Antonio De Rosa

/ Antonio De Rosa

It’s been four years since Apple branched out into a whole new product category with the HomePod, but all signs suggest the company will end this hiatus in 2023 with the release of a mixed-reality headset.

That means a headset that can run both virtual and augmented-reality applications, with insider reports hinting at 12 cameras to track your movements and surroundings. It will essentially have the power of a MacBook Pro, with reports of an Apple M2 chip and 16GB RAM — which sounds like overkill, until you realise other mooted specs include a 4K OLED screen for each eye.

That won’t come cheap, though: reports suggest it’ll be somewhere between £1,500 and £2,500. If that’s correct, suddenly the Meta Quest Pro looks a lot more reasonable.

Beyond mixed reality, there are some other possible innovations on the way, chiefly in the smart home space. While Apple discontinued the full-size HomePod last year, reports suggest it will be coming back, and could be accompanied by other ways of getting Siri around the house.

That’s according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, who says Apple is experimenting with a speaker dock that turns your iPad into a smart screen, like the Echo Show or Google Nest Hub. Amazon has previously achieved something similar with its Fire Tablets.

In the same piece, Gurman mentions Apple is working on the larger HomePod, as well as a “combined Apple TV and smart-speaker device with a camera for FaceTime and other functions”. Bundling three smart home devices in one would certainly be parking virtual tanks on Alexa and Google Assistant’s lawns.

The usual suspects

Apple CEO Tim Cook with the iPhone 14 Pro

/ Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

None of this is the bread and butter of Apple’s money-printing business, of course, and even if the company is exploring new product lines, it doesn’t mean it’ll take its eye off iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, and Macs.

The iPhone 15 is virtually inevitable, as is a September unveiling, given all numbered iPhones have been announced then since 2012 (with the exception of the iPhone 12, which was delayed to October, due to Covid-19).

As is normal in recent years, we can expect a regular iPhone 15 and a Pro model, but there’s also talk of an Ultra version this year, with a titanium build and other as-yet-unknown enhancements.

The iPhone 14 Pro Max, complete with Dynamic Island

/ Apple

The regular iPhone 15 is set to catch up with this year’s iPhone 14 Pro with a possible 48MP camera and the introduction of Dynamic Island, but the iPhone 15 Pro will take things further with a potential periscope camera for vastly improved long-range photography. All of them will finally make the jump to USB-C thanks to the European Union.

The world of iPads is arguably a bit more interesting, with talk of Apple introducing models with far bigger screens than currently available, and blurring the line between tablet and laptop further. Both 14.1-inch and 16-inch models of the iPad Pro are predicted, with dates of early 2023 and Q4 cited as possible launch dates.

For Macs in 2023, it’s all about the power, as Apple’s own M chips go from strength to strength. Very early on, we can expect 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros to arrive sporting M2 Pro and M2 Max processors. These were apparently expected this year, but have slipped to 2023, so a spring release seems likely for the flagship laptops.

Apple’s new iMac range

/ Apple

But it’s desktop Macs that are really worth watching, specifically, two models that still use Intel chips rather than Apple’s own components. While the smaller iMac got a colourful 24-inch makeover in 2021, the classic 27-inch all-in-one has yet to follow suit, so fans remain hopeful something larger will follow.

Then there’s the Mac Pro. The current ‘cheesegrater design’ professional desktop was released in 2019, and Apple is apparently working on a version powered by its own chips. These will apparently be extremely powerful: Bloomberg believes that the M2 Ultra chip powering the computer will be available with up to a 24-core CPU and 76-core GPU, with at least 192GB RAM.

The existing Apple Mac Pro model

/ Apple

An ‘M2 Extreme’ chip with the cores doubled has reportedly been shelved but, for context, the current M2 chipset maxes out at 8 CPU cores, so this is still a serious upgrade that will cost serious money. How much money? Well, the current 2019 version starts at £5,499…

Finally, we’d expect Apple Watches at the same time as the iPhone 15, but everything has been very quiet on the leaks front, suggesting we’re not looking at a monumental update this time around.

Not happening (yet)

A foldable iPhone (made by hobbyists, not Apple)

/ Tech Aesthetics

With such a packed schedule, you can’t have everything, and there are three big-picture omissions here.

First of all: no foldables (outside of fun third-party prototypes, like the one pictured above, that is). Insiders reckon that Apple won’t be dipping its toes into foldables until 2024 at the earliest, and then it’ll likely be a folding iPad rather than an iPhone Flip. While the foldable market is floundering, Apple entering it could be a game changer, as IDC Europe’s vice president of data and analytics told The Standard back in October.

Secondly, the Apple VR headset highlighted above is supposed to be the first step on the way to a Google Glass-style set of augmentedreality glasses. But the dream of that is years away, with analyst Jeff Pu now predicting a 2025-2026 launch window.

A similar timeframe is expected for the much-hyped Apple Car. While Apple was apparently mulling a self-driving vehicle with no steering wheel or pedals, it will now be considerably more conventional when it arrives in 2026, according to Bloomberg.

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