Apple’s March Refresh – What To Expect

Apple’s expected special event is just around the corner, and rumour has it we’re getting new iPhones. But what will they be like, and what else might we expect?

Almost every year, Apple hosts a keynote some time in March. These events usually see some new hardware unveiled. If the rumour mill is to be believed, this year we’re getting new iPhones. Not the top-of-the-range models due to replace the iPhone 11 series, but a newer version of the cheaper iPhone SE. Let’s call it the SE 2 for convenience. We might also get new iPads, as well as a few other bits and pieces too. But what will they be like? As always Apple isn’t telling, but let’s take a look at what we might expect. After all, we don’t have long to wait to see if we were right.

New Budget iPhone

We don’t know what it will be called yet, but as the next generation of Apple’s cheaper iPhone lines aimed at young people would supersede the iPhone SE, the iPhone SE 2 is as good a name as any for now.

The original iPhone SE was released in 2016, so an update is long overdue. It’s likely to be a similar price as the original iPhone SE, with some pundits expecting it to sell for around £310, $399, 366 €. Rumour has it the new model will feature an A13 processor, but in other ways be similar to the iPhone 8. The screen size is likely to be 4.7 inches, compared to the original SE’s four inches, for example. Perhaps instead of calling it the SE 2, it will be the iPhone 9 that never was? Just a thought.

The original iPhone SE was available in Space Grey, Silver, Gold and Rose Gold. The iPhone 8 offered all these colours except Rose Gold. Apple might be missing a trick if they don’t expand this range considerably for the next budget iPhone. A wider range of colours, similar to the iPhone XR, might be an idea, but we’ve heard no rumours either way on this one.

So how much like the iPhone 8 is this new iPhone likely to be? According to Steve H. McFly, @OnLeaks on Twitter, it’s almost identical. It’s likely to have a Home button with Touch ID, and a single rear camera, which might be improved over the iPhone 8’s. The battery life is likely to be longer too, due to advances in technology.

We expect the new budget iPhone, whatever it’s called, to be announced at the expected March keynote, as long as it’s not delayed due to the coronavirus.

An iPad Update?

Rumour has it that we’ve two iPads in the pipeline ready to be announced in March, presumably Pro models. This seems likely as the iPad Pro was last updated in October 2018, while the Air, iPad and mini ranges were all refreshed in March 2019.

The most exciting rumour about the new iPad is it could have three cameras. This would obviously be based on the iPhone 11 Pro’s camera setup, which is already tried and tested technology. This is likely to be the only external change; dimensions, screen sizes and builds would be the same as the current 12.9-inch and 11-inch iPad Pro.

Patents issued early this year suggest the new iPad Pros could be accompanied by new Apple Pencils, with two touch-sensitive areas along the body of the popular Bluetooth stylus. Both are said to respond to finger gestures, and can tell the difference between a deliberate input and someone, say, picking up the Pencil. Haptic feedback could emulate the experience of drawing on paper.

Watching Apple TV

Yet another rumour suggests the Apple TV could be getting a March refresh. When the tvOS 13.4 beta was released, eagle-eyed hackers noticed a reference to an Apple TV model that doesn’t yet exist; a model codenamed ‘T1125’. Apple watchers suggest the ’T’ at the start of the designation means it’s an internal release not yet available to the public (the released models’ designations start with a ‘J’).

Apple TV

It’s been suggested the new hardware is to use an A12 or A13 Bionic chip, while the current 4K Apple TV uses an A10X Fusion. This might make sense given the Apple TV is now used for the Apple Arcade service, allowing you to play games on your television. But some commentators have unkindly suggested that while the Apple TV doesn’t need a faster chip, it definitely needs a better remote, something that isn’t rumoured to be imminent.

When and Where?

So when will this tantalising keynote take place, and where will it be shown? As stated earlier, it’s likely to take place in March. When in March we don’t know; in the past, it’s been as early as the 9th and as late as the 27th, but with the worldwide disruption caused by the coronavirus, we’d expect it to be later in the month rather than sooner. The 31st March is rumoured, with hardware releases likely to follow the first week in April.

The event is likely to be hosted at the Steve Jobs Theatre in Apple’s Cupertino HQ, and streamed live over the Internet for viewing all over the world. Apple events usually start at 10am California time, which is 6pm in the UK. We can’t wait to tune in.

An iOS 14 Rumour

The next release of iOS, which is almost certainly going to be called iOS 14, isn’t due until September, but we’ve come across an interesting rumour which we’ve decided to share with you anyway. It’s been said that iOS 14, which will probably be announced in June, will run on every iPhone that can run iOS 13. The next version of iOS is likely to emphasise integration with Apple’s subscription services such as Apple TV+, News+, Music and Arcade, so it’s in the company’s interests to have it running on as wide a range of devices as possible.

Coronavirus Delays?

As you’re probably aware, the coronavirus is currently rampant in China. It’s having a devastating effect on the tech world, with this year’s Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona already cancelled. But could it delay the release of Apple’s next iPhone too?

The iPhone is put together by Foxconn, a Chinese company located not far from the coronavirus outbreak. Several Foxconn factories closed for a while, and closures elsewhere could well affect the ’supply chain’, a network of companies and factories that supply the raw materials and components for the iPhones.

Nothing has been announced (of course), and China is slowly getting back to work after the closures caused by the outbreak, but it could take weeks for Foxconn’s lines to get back up to speed. For this reason, we think Apple’s March keynote will take place at the end of the month; the 31st March is rumoured.

Ian Osborne

Ian has worked on computer and video games magazines since the legendary Crash and Zzap! 64 in the early Nineties, so he’s seen many changes over the years (including an expanding waistline and receding hairline). A lifelong Mac user, he bought his first Mac in the year 2000. It’s a testament to the resilience of the Mac that his mother is still using that computer to this very day.

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