Apple’s “Peek Performance” media event certainly gave us plenty to talk about. From refreshing the iPhone SE with new internals to launching a brand new desktop computer and display, the Cupertino-based company has whetted our appetites for more to come in future Apple events during 2022. Let’s break down what we saw Tuesday, and what we hope the rest of the year has in store.
Great New Apple TV+ Offerings
Assuming Major League Baseball managers and players resolve their differences, many Apple users should love the bonus of two MLB games streamed each Friday. But that was just Cupertino’s warm up.
The new movies announced during the first Apple event of 2022 will provide hours of entertainment. We’re getting a star-studded spy thriller, a new take on Dickens’ A Christmas Story, and an animated special for families. I’m especially looking forward to Cha Cha Real Smooth, and hope it heightens awareness of autism the way CODA did for the deaf community.
Upgrading the iPhone SE
Next, we got a look at the future of the iPhone SE. Same design, but dramatically updated internals. The refreshed handset finally brings an inexpensive 5G iPhone, something many will greatly appreciate. Adding an additional 256GB storage option was definitely a smart move, given the new camera features opened up on the handset.
Apple also helped to make the budget-friendly iPhone more durable, using the same super-strong glass on the front and back as found on the rear of the iPhone 13. I would have liked to see Ceramic glass come to the handset, though.
The only “gotcha” with the iPhone SE is its lack of mmWave support. This is understandable, since Apple would have needed to redesign the chassis to accommodate an mmWave antenna, though. Here’s hoping that Verizon’s new focus on C-band instead of mmWave continues, so folks won’t even notice it’s missing.
The real struggle, at least in the short term, may be AT&T’s network. The iPhone SE doesn’t support the 3.45GHz frequencies AT&T is using in some regions where it can’t turn on its own C-band transmitters yet. Then again, the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 don’t support it, either.
Redesigned the iPad Air Announced at Apple’s First 2022 Event
Next up is the 10.9-inch iPad Air, which now includes the M1 chip. That’s the same processor used in Apple’s desktop and laptop computers, and allows a much higher performance index for the tablet. Too bad it’s still running iPadOS and not macOS.
In fact, Apple says the new iPad Air’s M1 chip makes it twice as fast as most Windows laptops in its price range. It also features a 12MP ultra wide front-facing camera, with Center Stage support. Users won’t need to sit still on those Zoom calls anymore, since the camera will follow them around (within reason, of course).
Upgrading the iPad Air display to Liquid Retina was yet another smart move, and one that has me considering a purchase in the near future. The upgraded USB-C port really beefs up file transfers, and will also allow users to take advantage of the Apple Studio Display’s capabilities with the iPad Air.
As icing on the cake, the new iPad Air offers 5G cellular capabilities. Again, no mmWave support, but it seems as if the industry might abandon that frequency band.
Finally, a Mini Mac Pro, Kinda
What truly got me excited was the new Mac Studio. I’m not a fan of the design aesthetic, since it’s basically just an aluminum box, but at least it doesn’t look like a trash can. What’s truly impressive is inside the box, and the ports allowing you to expand on it.
The M1 Ultra blows away all the competition, even the Mac Pro. It performs several times faster than the professional-grade Mac desktop as well as the newer (but now discontinued) 27-inch iMac. This is a computer that should serve creative professionals well, whether they’re developing the next gaming title for Apple Arcade or editing video footage in Final Cut Pro.
Of course, the connectivity options give us most of what we want, too. There’s a grand total of six Thunderbolt 4 ports (four if you choose the M1 Max, since the two on the front will only be USB-C), a pair of USB-A ports, Ethernet, HDMI, and a headphone jack. On top of that, you get an SD card slot.
Pair the Mac Studio with Apple’s new 27-inch Studio Display, and things get even better. It provides you a 5K Retina display, a 12MP ultra wide camera, and spatial audio technology. Oh, and it supports Center Stage. The fact that the Studio Display has its own A13 processor to run the extra camera and audio features means more power left on the desktop for more serious work.
More in Store at Other Apple Events in 2022
Of course, we know Apple isn’t done yet. We should have at least two, maybe three, more media events with product releases. Apple hinted that we’ll finally get an M1-powered Mac Pro, finishing out the transition to Apple Silicon, during the Mac Studio unveiling.
We can also hope for a 27-inch iMac Pro, and we’re reasonably certain Cupertino will refresh the Mac mini to include a new M2 chip. We may even see the M2 Pro launched at the same time as an option. There’s also speculation of Apple releasing a new 13-inch MacBook Pro with the M2 chip, a redesigned MacBook Air, and perhaps an M2-powered 24-inch iMac.
We will also probably see a new iPhone in the fall, along with the Apple Watch Series 8. Cupertino is looking at reducing the size of the notch on the smartphone, and improving the internals of the Watch. The wearable device may even get new sensors to check your temperature.
The real question is, what of Apple’s mixed reality headset? Suppliers recently completed key production tests on the device, so there is still hope to see it unveiled this year.