Rumor Roundup: Apple’s New Products

Rumors are flying fast and furious about almost every major Apple product. Here’s a roundup of all the rumors and how good we think the rumors are.

New MacBook Pros. The rumors about the new MacBook Pros include a thinner profile, no SuperDrive, a Retina display, USB3 and Ivy Bridge CPU. The Ivy Bridge chips, mobile, are already shipping in the Dell Alienware, so that’s a no-brainer. As for ditching the SuperDrive, that’s almost a certainty, given Apple’s track record with the MacBook Air.

MBARumors: new MBPs will follow design of MBAs (Image Credit: Apple)

USB3, which is built into Ivy Bridge, would be an insanely good idea, and if that pans out, suggests that Apple is being more pragmatic — a welcome change. However, that’s probably 50/50 and may depend on the model and product positioning. As for the Retina display, that sounds great, and sources are fairly certain this is coming, but I’d be prepared to be disappointed if the plans falls through for, perhaps, supply reasons.

Timing: Summer, but perhaps not at WWDC. Apple has gotten away from product refresh announcements at WWDC, and WWDC is all about iOS these days, not a MacBook Pro refresh. Accordingly, Apple may release it when Mountain Lion is also ready to ship.

iPad 7-inch. This one is almost a certainty, but I don’t think Apple will call it the iPad mini. It sounds too much like a feminine hygiene product. Let’s call it the “iPad 7-inch.” Most sources suggest that the display will actually be 7.85 inches. It’s virtually a certainty because Apple would probably like to close the door on the only remaining, sensible, tablet screen size that competitors like Amazon and Samsung can cash in on.

9 and 7 inch iPads9- and possible 7-inch iPads (image Credit: Apple & TMO concept)

Some have suggested that the pricing will be in the $200-299 range, but I doubt that. Historically, Apple charges a premium for a premium product and gives itself room for various discounts. I’m thinking along the lines of $349 for 16 GB model. That would also protect iPod touch sales which are still quite respectable.

Timing: Early to mid October, in time to get people excited for the Christmas buying season and divert them from an improved, second generation Kindle Fire.

iPhone 5. Actually, the 6th generation of Apple iPhone. (iPhone, 3G, 3GS, 4, 4S, 5). Whether it’ll be the “new iPhone” or the iPhone 5 is anyone’s guess. I’m going with iPhone 5 because there are so many iPhones out there, and they’re on the consciousness of so many people who clearly want to have the latest and greatest — proven by the model number.

The most persistent rumors are LTE support and a 4-inch display Other rumors include the possible use of liquid metal. Here’s a gallery of possible designs.

iPhone 5 concept

Image Credit: Cult of Mac

Apple appears to be under some competitive pressure to increase the size of the iPhone dislay slightly. That will please some and annoy others. Additional rumors suggest that the iPhone 5 will have a quad core A6 processor, a change from the traditional 30-pin connector to inductive charging and Near Field Communications (NFC) to support a digital wallet.

Not surprisingly, rumors are that Apple will start production in June, and that the company is cutting back on orders for the current iPhone 4S to account for possible decline in 4S sales as the rumors heat up.

In order of probability, my list, from highest to lowest, is:

  1. LTE
  2. A6 quad core CPU
  3. 4-inch screen
  4. NFC
  5. Inductive charging

Timing: Apple has fallen into an October release cycle starting with the iPhone 4S, and forcing an earlier date would feel wrong for all those who just bought a 4S. So October 2012 is everyone’s best guess. iOS 6, with Apple’s new geo mapping, replacing Google Maps, it is surmised, will be released with the iPhone 5 and iPad 7-inch.

New iMacs. The last upgrade was in August, 2011. With the Ivy Bridge chips available, it’s no great stretch of the imagination that Apple will be upgrading the iMac as well. In fact, some benchmarks seem to have been leaked and are mentioned by Cult of Mac . These correspond to a quad core Ivy Bridge i7-3770 running at 3.4 GHz.

One rumor I saw suggested an option for non-reflective glass. Other than the customary larger disk drive and faster graphics, not much new is swirling about this refresh.

iMacCustomary CPU & GPU refresh. Not much else. (Image Credit: Apple)

As an aside, and I haven’t seen any explicit rumors, I think it’s unlikely we’ll see the SuperDrive dropped from the iMac line. There is plenty of room, and many desktop users still depend on that technology. The real kicker is whether FireWire 800 will disappear, but I think it’s too early for that. That’ll be next year, when Thunderbolt is more mature.

Timing: AppleInsider thinks June or maybe July.

iCloud Upgrade. According to the Wall Street Journal and “people familiar with the matter,” Apple will be releasing an upgrade to iCloud that includes new photo sharing features. This is seen as Apple’s response to the growing popularity of photo sharing at Facebook/Instagram and will likely be rolled out with iOS 6.

Timing: Almost a certainty, I believe, and in concert with iOS 6.