A New, Confusing iPad Lineup; Confounding Apple TV Specs; and More on iPhone Production

The Daily Observation Deck Feature

New iPads announced, Apple TVs to confound, and shouldn’t we be fighting about iPhone production?

Apple Launches New iPad Range with Non-Event Event

It was like an Apple event, but shorter and with no event. I told you Tuesday that Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman was doubling down on talk of new hardware from Apple very soon. And then it happened. Apple let fly with not one, not two, but three press releases covering its new offerings — one for the 10th generation iPad, one for the M2-powered iPad Pro, and one for a new set of Apple TV 4Ks. 

The TVs didn’t make the non-event event, though the new iPads did. 9to5Mac highlighted the #TakeNote presentation. Available on YouTube and on Apple’s site, the nine-plus-minute video showed off some fairly sexy features. Let’s hit some that grabbed my eye, starting with the 10th-gen iPad.

Apple Introduces Redesigned 10th Generation iPad

So long Home button — Touch ID has made its way to the power button on the top of the device. Ditching the Home button gives the front an edge-to-edge, all-screen feel. More than one piece I saw online said it looks very much like an iPad Pro these days. Maybe to them, but in my head — this is the iPad 5c. Not because it’s underpowered and not because it’s cheap. Rather, because — in a bunch — the Blue, Pink, Silver, and Yellow iPads look like larger versions of Apple’s first brightly colored, consumer focused phones. 

Getting more nuts-and-bolts, a piece from The Mac Observer says the device’s 10.9-inch self is powered by Apple’s A14 Bionic. The piece says that gives the tablet “faster performance (…) while still allowing for all-day battery life.”  There’s a “20% increase in CPU speed and power, along with a 10% improvement in graphics.” And, the piece says, the “16-core Neural Engine boosts machine learning tasks by up to 80% over the previous generation.” TMO says the new non-Pro iPad “offers Wi-Fi 6 and 5G cellular. There’s also continued support for Gigabit LTE, physical SIM cards and eSIM with on-device activation.”

With the new machine, Apple’s march toward USB-C continues. No more Lightning port for this one. 

One thing the 10th-gen iPad has that no other iPad has — sensible FaceTime camera placement. A piece from MacRumors says the new unit is “the first-ever iPad model to feature a landscape front-facing camera orientation.” First and only, actually. Mac Geek Gab’s Dave Hamilton pointed out to me Tuesday that the new iPad Pro still orients the front-facing camera for portrait mode… for some unknown blessed reason. 

What else does it have? A bigger price. The 10th-gen iPad moves from a starting price of $329 last year (and for the last few years if memory serves) to $449 for Wi-Fi only — that is an increase of $120. Add cellular and you’re looking at a starting price of $599, up from last year’s $459 — an increase of $140.

The machine went up for pre-order on Tuesday. They’re expected in stores one week from today, on Wednesday, Oct. 26. First deliveries will land then, too — but you had to get on this one early. When I checked late Tuesday morning on the west coast, the few capacities and colors I checked in both Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + Cellular showed a delivery range between Nov. 2 and Nov. 10. That same date range was holding in the evening out west.

Apple Introduces M2 Powered iPad Pro

Where do the Pros go? They’re taking the M2. Another piece from The Mac Observer outlines Apple’s latest iPad Pro offering. Features that caught my eye during part-two of Apple’s video presentation were the thing’s ability to capture ProRes video and this neat trick it does with Apple Pencil. Basically, when you hover the point of Apple Pencil within 12mm of the display, it sort of previews what you’re about to do. You can also think of it as showing what’s clickable — or what can be affected by the (dare I say) stylus. 

Let us turn again to TMO for the nuts-and-bolts thing. The new Pro tablet features “support for the latest wireless networking technology, Wi-Fi 6E.” The piece says that makes this “Apple’s first device capable of wireless downloads at 2.4Gbps.” The M2 processor powering the machine “features an 8-core CPU that’s up to 15% faster than the M1, along with a 10-core GPU,” delivering graphics performance “up to 35% faster” than its predecessor. Additionally, the piece says:

The M2 chip’s 16-core Neural Engine is capable of processing 15.8 trillion operations per second. That’s 40% more than the M1-powered previous generation and affords the iPad Pro even more power when handling machine learning tasks.

And it’s got a horn! Not really, but I thought it would be fun to name a feature I’d actually understand. 

Prices on the devices stay the same. The 11-inch iPad Pro starts at $799 for Wi-Fi and $999 for Wi-Fi + Cellular. The 12.9-inch model starts at $1,099 for Wi-Fi and $1,299 for Wi-Fi + Cellular. Pre-orders started on Tuesday. They’ll be in stores and delivery vans next Wednesday 26 October. Checking a couple of models Tuesday evening, that appears to still be the case.

A Full Flippin’ iPad Lineup

While it wouldn’t be right to say that the iPad range is too full, it’s pretty flippin’ full. While the new iPad Pro replaces the old iPad Pro, the new iPad sort of nestles in nicely with the old one. Props to MacRumors for outlining the lineup. On the “Which iPad is right for you?” portion of the iPad Pro page, we find:

  • New iPad Pro starts at $799
  • iPad Air is still there — it starts at $599
  • 10th Generation iPad starts at $449
  • 9th Generation iPad still starts at $329
  • iPad mini starts at $499

Apple Intros an Odd Pair of Apple TV 4K Models

Practically forgotten by some and particularly confounding to others were Apple’s two new Apple TV 4K introductions. Powered by Apple’s A15 Bionic, The Mac Observer says the 64GB version goes for $129, while the 128GB version goes for $149.

Charging more for more storage is not the confounding part. What’s confounding is what’s missing. A piece from 9to5Mac says it is only the 128GB $149 model that offers Thread support. According to the report:

Thread is a lower-power network connection for smart devices that, by being a mesh network, allows the devices to communicate directly with each other rather than just through your Wi-Fi router. Thread lets devices consume less energy and last longer on battery than they would with standard Wi-Fi support.

What makes this confounding — The 32GB and 64GB Apple TV 4Ks that the new machines replace both supported Thread networking. “As Apple and other companies work to grow the Matter standard as the new go-to for smart devices,” 9to5Mac says by splitting Thread support, Apple is “segmenting one of the features that make the Apple TV attractive as a smart-home device.”

For people who are hip to this, they’re likely to be perturbed. For people who have yet to get into the whole smart home thing, wouldn’t it be neat if it “just worked,” even if they did save 20-bucks?

While that had the parts of Twitter I watch tweeting Tuesday night, there was other newness. I mentioned the A15 Bionic earlier. “According to Apple,” according to The Mac Observer:

…the inclusion of the A15 now makes CPU performance 50% faster than the previous generation, and GPU performance is now 30% faster than the previous generation as well.

The new Siri Remote now charges via USB-C, though a piece from MacRumors says the box does not include a charging cable. Well… it does in Brazil. You know how Brazil can be about charging cables.  

Pre-orders for the new Apple TV 4Ks started yesterday. They’ll be on store shelves and in your parlor on Friday 4 November.

Out with the Old

If you’re wondering about the range of Apple TV units offered — that’s it. Not only does the new pair of 4K devices replace the old set, it also blows Apple TV HD out of the water. That is not a performance assessment — that is what has happened. A piece from MacRumors says, with the arrival of the new units, Apple has removed Apple TV HD from sale through its online store.

OS Release Candidates Abound

With new hardware near on the horizon, when do we get new operating systems? “Very soon,” appears to be the answer. A piece from The Mac Observer says Apple announced “Release Candidates for . . . Well . . . Everything.” So said the headline. According to the report, macOS 13 Ventura, iOS 16.1, iPadOS 16.1, tvOS 16.1, and watchOS 9.1 all saw release candidates seeded to developers and public testers on Tuesday. The piece says three of those five will see public release next Monday 24 October. TMO has apparently heard nothing official about release dates for tvOS 16.1 and watchOS 9.1, though the site does expect those next Monday as well.  

Wedbush Goes Bullish on M2 iPad Pro

I’ve not spotted much in the way of analyst reaction to Apple’s announcements, though you can always count on Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives. Barron’s (via Apple News+) wrote up his response, which — surprise surprise — was positive. According to the analyst, Apple releasing the new tablets and streaming devices:

…in this backdrop of supply chain and production issues across Asia, is a further flexing of their muscles and shows Apple’s unique ability to get products out in this market.

The big winner is the top-end of the tablet line in his estimation. Quoting the analyst again:

I feel like the headline is really around M2 chip, because within Apple’s loyal install base, this is a next gen iPad Pro that is unique to anything else in the market… I think that’s really the distinguishing characteristic that could, even in a tougher macro, put fuel into an iPad upgrade cycle as we go into 2023.

Mr. Ives has an oh-so-positive rating on Apple shares. His price target on the shares is $220.

The Information: Two Sources Say Apple’s Cut iPhone 14 Plus Production

While new hardware is… well… new… there’s plenty of old new stuff over which to bicker. AppleInsider has written up a report from The Information. That has two sources in Apple’s supply chain saying that Apple has cut production on iPhone 14 Plus. According to the report on the report:

  • One source said “at least one manufacturer in China was told to halt production of iPhone 14 Plus components while its procurement team reevaluates demand for the product.”
  • Additionally, two suppliers further down the supply chain are said to have cut module assembly by 70% to 90%…
  • At the same time, Apple has reportedly asked one manufacturer to boost production at the Pro end of the 14 line.

While AppleInsider doesn’t call “bull something” on the report, the site does point out that the “iPhone supply chain is large and complex,” and that trying to figure out what’s happening for the whole thing based on a few links could be folly. The site also alludes to a Tim Cook quote from nearly 10 years ago: 

…even if a particular data point were factual, it would be impossible to interpret for our overall business… Yields can vary. Supplier performance can vary. There’s an inordinately long list of things that would make any single data point not a great proxy for what’s going on.

Evercore Analyst Unfazed by The Information’s Information

Willing to call “bull something” on the piece from The Information is Evercore analyst Amit Daryanani. Apple 3.0 ran part of a note he wrote. Saying that he was responding specifically to the report, the analyst said that while news that Apple is “taking down production for the iPhone Plus ~two weeks post launch” is kind of new, he and his “would argue this has long been expected and almost implied from the lead time data that we have tracked from AAPL.” While unit sales are looking flat, the ones that are selling “are skewing more heavily towards the high-end models (Pro & Pro Max),” according to the analyst. 

While waits for the consumer end of the 14 line stand at 0 to 5 days, in his estimation, demand on the Pro end is still greater than 20 days. That should lead iPhone sales to an 8% rise in average selling price, likely leading to revenue that will beat the Street’s expectations.

Daryanani has an “Outperform” rating on Apple shares. His price target on the shares is $190.

Today on The Mac Observer’s Daily Observations Podcast

Mac Geek Gab co-host Dave Hamilton is our guest today — and you’ll never guess what we talk about. I’m kidding… Dave and I recorded just a couple of hours after Apple announced all of its new hardware… Hear some early thoughts on the Daily Observations Podcast from The Mac Observer.

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