New Macs, Changes at Foxconn and More Activity Challenges

The Daily Observation Deck Feature

New Macs and processors to power them, a change in Foxconn’s iPhone ranks, and so many activity challenges!

Apple Intros New Macs Powered By M2 Pro and M2 Max

New processors and machines powered by them. As had been rumored, Apple did make Mac announcements via press releases on Tuesday, though with an A/V component. You know the virtual keynotes Apple’s done since the start of the pandemic 183 years ago? Think that, but shorter. Just under 19-minutes of techs and specs on the new M2 Pro and M2 Max processors, as well as a new Mac mini powered by M2 and M2 Pro and new MacBook Pros powered by M2 Pro and M2 Max.

M2 Upgrades: It’s a Lot to Process

The M2 Pro packs 40-billion transistors, “nearly 20 percent more than M1 Pro, and double the amount in M2,” according to Apple. Quoting the processor press release:

Apps like Adobe Photoshop run heavy workloads faster than ever, and compiling in Xcode is up to 2.5x faster than on the fastest Intel-based MacBook Pro.

Additionally, the release says:

Graphics speeds are up to 30 percent faster than that of M1 Pro, resulting in huge increases in image processing performance and enabling console-quality gaming.

Taking it to the Max, we find “67 billion transistors — 10 billion more than M1 Max and more than 3x that of M2,” according to the Cupertino-company. “From powering visual effects,” says Apple:

…to training machine learning models, to stitching together gigapixel images, MacBook Pro with M2 Max brings incredible performance whether plugged in or running on battery power. M2 Max is the world’s most powerful and efficient chip for a pro laptop.

New MacBook Pros Are Go

With that as a segue, let’s land on the laptops. The machines look the same as the last MacBooks Pros, though there’s new power under the hood, thanks to the M2 Pro and M2 Max. “Building on the unprecedented power efficiency of Apple silicon,” Apple’s laptop release says:

…battery life on MacBook Pro is now up to 22 hours — the longest battery life ever in a Mac. For enhanced connectivity, the new MacBook Pro supports Wi-Fi 6E, which is up to twice as fast as the previous generation, as well as advanced HDMI, which supports 8K displays for the first time.

That 22-hours claim played a part in what was likely the most accessible bit of Apple’s video presentation. The company kept three creatives in a room doing some seriously processor-intensive work on their new Macs with no power. It was a good illustration of what the machine should be able to do. 

So — how much to put you behind the display of one of Apple’s latest laptops? A piece from The Mac Observer says the 14-inch MacBook Pro with M2 Pro starts at $1,999. The same machine with M2 Max kicks the starting price to $2,899. For the 16-inch machine, starting price for the M2 Pro Pro is $2,499. Make it a Max and you’re starting at $3,099.

The new MacBook Pros are available to order now in 27 countries and regions, including the US. They’ll land in the hands of buyers, in Apple stores, and on the shelves of Apple Authorized Resellers next Tuesday, Jan. 24. They’ll hit round-two countries the following week, landing in Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, New Zealand, and Singapore on Friday, Feb. 3. 

Less Mobile, More mini

As for Apple’s new desktop, the mini release says:

Compared to the previous-generation Mac mini, M2 and M2 Pro bring a faster next-generation CPU and GPU, much higher memory bandwidth, and a more powerful media engine to Mac mini, delivering extraordinary performance and industry-leading power efficiency. Both models feature an advanced thermal system for exceptional sustained performance.

All of that — and with a lower starting price. A piece from 9to5Mac says the base model mini powered by M2 starts at $599 — $100 less than the previous M1 mini. Making it a Pro makes it significantly more costly. The base Mac mini powered by M2 Pro has a starting price of $1,299.

The new Mac mini units have the same order and delivery dates as the new MacBook Pros. 

Report: Apple’s Trade-In Value for $53k Intel Mac Pro = $970

With the introduction of the two M2 mini Macs on Tuesday, Apple is down to one Intel-based machine. Gone from the lineup is the Intel-based Mac mini, leaving the industrial cheese grater Mac Pro standing alone. And it is not worth what it used to be — at least not as far as Apple is concerned.

After Tuesday’s M2 MacBook Pro and Mac mini announcements, AppleInsider wrote up a Twitter post by David Imel. Imel is a writer and researcher for techspert reviewer and YouTuber Marques Brownlee. Whether they’re actually looking to update machines or just having a bit of fun, Imel wondered what the trade-in value would be for their shop’s 2019, $53,000, Intel-based Mac Pro. 

It’s not much. 

On Twitter Imel said, “Just tried pricing out our $52,199 Mac Pro’s at the office for trade in, which you can still buy from Apple, $52,199.” That was over an image that showed Apple’s trade-in value for the machine at $970. Imel went on to ask, “What else has dropped 50x in value in 3 years.. besides crypto?”

Of course, Brownlee’s MKBHD YouTube channel is huge. 16.6-million subscribers. His most recent video, published six-days ago, already has over 2.2-million views. He could likely afford a new Mac of any sort without any sort of trade-in. Additionally, AppleInsider points out that:

The Mac Pros have already paid for themselves several times over, which is the entire point of “Pro”-grade hardware actually used by professionals.

Still — you kind of feel like the metal case alone could be worth $970. Maybe more if it’s signed by Marques Brownlee.

Canalys Says iPhone Tops Last Quarter Despite Supply Constraints

A somewhat surprising note from market tracker Canalys. AppleInsider has the firm saying that iPhone gained global marketshare last quarter, coming out on top in terms of smartphone sales. Yes — that is the same quarter that saw Apple and Foxconn unable to keep up with demand. The quarter that is expected to yield financial results that are somewhere between disappointing and ghastly when Apple reports December-quarter earnings in just over two-weeks. 

How did Apple do it? The trick is watching nearly every other smartphone vendor fall around it. For the fourth-quarter, Apple and Samsung were able to grow marketshare versus the same quarter a year ago — First-place Apple to 25% and second-place Samsung to 20%. “Higher-end brands held steady, in other words,” according to a separate piece on the numbers from Engadget. While fourth-place OPPO was able to grow from 9% to 10%… they’re still just at 10%. Smartphones as a whole were down 17% for the quarter — sending shipments to ten-year lows. 

“Canalys forecasts flat to marginal growth for the smartphone market in 2023,” according to AppleInsider, “with conditions expected to remain challenging.” With pent-up demand caused by last quarter’s lack of iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max supply, it’ll likely be a quarter or two before we know how (or if) that will affect iPhone. 

Foxconn Names New Head of iPhone Production

A notable sift in Foxconn’s ranks. The South China Morning Post says the guy in charge of iPhone production for the contract manufacturer is no longer in charge of iPhone production. Wang Charng-yang will remain as a director for Foxconn, though making sure iPhones make it out is now the responsibility of Michael Chiang.

While COVID made it a rough year for iPhone production, the piece says this has nothing to do with that. Rather, it’s said to be about Foxconn head Young Liu’s desire to “elevate younger executives to maintain the company’s supply chain leadership…” 

Not that the new guy is actually new. He joined Foxconn back in the futuristic sounding year 1999. He’s also not new to the iPhone line. The South China Morning Post says Chiang “played a pivotal role” communicating with Zhengzhou’s local government when things got tense in that area’s “iPhone City” plant. According to the report:

The appointment highlights Foxconn’s efforts in recent years to foster a younger cohort of executives to help the company navigate prolonged tensions between Washington and Beijing, diversify its manufacturing bases outside of China, and fend off Chinese challengers including Luxshare Precision Industry Co.

Apple Launches ‘Back to University’ Promo in Australia and New Zealand

It’s apparently “Back to University” time down under. MacRumors says Apple’s annual promotion for the back to campus crew is once again underway. This time around, the piece says “students, teachers, and other eligible educational employees” in Australia and New Zealand can grab a “free” pair of AirPods with the purchase of a qualifying Mac or iPad. 

From now through March 13, the piece says participants can get a “free” pair of second-generation AirPods when they buy “any new MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, 24-inch iMac, iPad Pro, or iPad Air,” including the M2 Pro and M2 Max-powered MacBook Pros announced on Tuesday. For a bit more cash, they can upgrade the freebies to a pair of third-generation AirPods or second-generation AirPods Pro. 

More info and the fine print are available on Apple’s site.

Four Apple Watch Activity Challenges Between Now and End of February 

And finally today, there’s a slew of new Apple Watch Activity Challenges on the way. A piece from MacRumors outlines the challenges. 

Black History Month brings in a challenge similar to the one that rings in the new year. The “Unity” challenge returns. It requires participants to close their Move ring for any seven days in a row in February. Similar, as I say, to the Ring in the New Year challenge. That one requires participants to close all three of their rings — Move, Exercise, and Stand — for seven days in a row in the month of January (still time to do that if you haven’t started).

In the middle of February — Valentine’s Day to be exact, Apple Watch will feature a Heart Month challenge. This one calls on participants to “complete a 30 minute workout to fill their Exercise,” according to MacRumors. It has to be completed on 14 February. 

And the Lunar New Year challenge is back. Honestly, I thought this was the first year this one had hit the States, though checking my Activity awards, it seems I got this one last year. “For Lunar New Year,” MacRumors says:

…Apple Watch owners can earn an award after doing any workout for at least 20 minutes. The challenge will need to be completed between between January 22 and February 5…

And — just like last year, I guess — the piece says “it will be available worldwide.”

Today on The Mac Observer’s Daily Observations Podcast

TMO Managing Editor Jeff Butts and I talk over the new processors and Macs Apple introduced on Tuesday. Plus — from 53-thousand-dollars to less than one-thousand? We talk over the Apple offer just about anyone can refuse. That’s all today on the Daily Observations Podcast from The Mac Observer.

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