It’s impossible to go anywhere near the internet right now without being bombarded with news, leaks, and rumors about what Apple has in store for its September announcements. So much so that it can be easy to forget that there’s life after the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro. With an October or November event still likely, there’s a lot to look forward to.
I’m not even talking about the Apple Watch Series 9 or Apple Watch Ultra 2 — they”re both likely to arrive on September 12 or 13 alongside those new iPhones. What I’m talking about is something else entirely.
With 2023 starting to wind down and early 2023 and the Vision Pro ready to come knocking, we’re almost in Mac and iPad territory. I, for one, can’t wait. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a new iPhone as much as the next person. But there’s something about a new Mac. Something about a refreshed iPad. And above all, something about the smell of hot new silicon in the morning.
That’s why I’m particularly looking forward to what’s still to come from Apple in late 2023. Here are five things that I’m looking forward to seeing at Apple’s October (or November) event.
1. New Apple silicon
These days, 15-inch MacBook Air notwithstanding, we don’t tend to get a new Mac without there also being some new Apple silicon to go inside it.
The Apple silicon transition began with the M1 of course, and that was replaced by the M2 line of chips in 2022. We’ve seen Pro, Max, and Ultra flavors of both of those chips although the rumored Extreme variants are yet to materialize. And we all know what comes after one and two, right?
Rumors of the arrival of the M3 chips have been abound for months now and it now seems very likely that Apple will debut the M3 this coming October or November. It’ll be the base chip, however, and the M3 Pro and M3 Max will surely arrive in the early months of 2024. The M3 Ultra will probably arrive around the same time as an updated Mac Pro or Mac Studio, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves. It’s the bread and butter — that M3 — that’s imminent and it promises to be a big update.
While the M2 family wasn’t a huge improvement over the M1, that isn’t thought to be the case this time out. The M3 is expected to be built using TSMC’s 3nm manufacturing process, for starters. That should allow the chip to run cooler and use less power than previous chips which in turn allows them to be faster in use. And that’s good news for users.
In terms of raw specifications, we’re expecting eight CPU cores and 10 GPU cores, just like the M2. But we can expect more cores to be added in higher-end versions of course.
2. M3 24-inch iMac
New Apple silicon is nothing without a new Mac or three to put it into, of course. And the iMac is a prime candidate at this point.
The current M1 iMac hasn’t been updated since 2021. It’s a 24-inch all-in-one and comes in a variety of colors, although we’re not sure anyone should choose most of them. That means that the 24-inch iMac is likely to be one of the first to get the M3 chip.
There haven’t been all that many rumors about what an M3 iMac will have to offer. Rumors suggest that there won’t be huge changes on the outside, at least. But the iMac is the Mac for a lot of people and as such it should have the latest chips inside. If Apple can give buyers some new colors and maybe some smaller bezels, everyone will be pretty happy with the outcome. I’d take an M3 iMac if it was a bit bigger, too. 24 inches is just a bit on the small size for working with multiple windows open all day every day. But for most people? The iMac is the best desktop Mac of all.
If Apple can make it cheaper, even better. Though that seems unlikely, I’m afraid.
3. M3 13-inch MacBook Air
If the iMac is the best desktop Mac for most people, the 13-inch MacBook Air is the laptop they should choose. It’s fast, silent, and just the right size to be impossibly portable. Add in a faster, cooler, even less power-hungry chip and you’re off to the races.
Much like the iMac, rumors of a MacBook Air redesign have been hard to come by. But that isn’t a bad thing because the M2 MacBook Air is a stunning machine. It has a bright and colorful 13.6-inch display and even the notch disappears after a few minutes of use.
Adding an M3 chip will just make the MacBook Air an even better proposition for people who need a portable Mac that sips battery yet can blast through the kinds of tasks the majority of people will do. Give it some new colors or boost the base storage or RAM and the M3 MacBook Air instantly takes over as the best Mac around.
4. An updated iPad mini
I won’t lie, I have a big soft spot for the iPad mini. Sometimes you want something that’s not quite as big as the iPad, iPad Air, or 11-inch iPad Pro but you do need something bigger than even the iPhone 14 Pro Max. For that, the 8.3-inch iPad mini is perfect.
Rumors around a potential iPad mini refresh in 2023 have so far been lukewarm at best. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman has said that a spec-bumped iPad mini is possible, but that’s only as concrete as any rumor can be. Still, I’m hopeful.
The current iPad mini has been around since September 2021 so it’s due an update. It also uses the aging A15 Bionic chip. Surely Apple can squeeze something a bit more exciting in there, even if it’s just a new iPhone chip like the upcoming iPhone 15 Pro’s A17? Ideally, I’d like to see one of the M1-series chips make its iPad mini debut, but I’m not convinced that’s going to happen.
5. Wildcard iPad Pro
If an updated iPad mini isn’t locked in, the idea of a refreshed iPad Pro is even less likely at this point. Bloomberg’s Gurman is convinced that new OLED iPad Pro models won’t debut until 2024, leaving the 11- and 12.9-inch iPad Pro tablets as they are for a few months yet.
But rumors of a 14- or 16-inch iPad Pro won’t die. Could it even be called the iPad Ultra? Whatever it’s called, it has the potential to change the iPad lineup entirely. If Apple puts an M3 chip inside, offers a particularly fancy keyboard and trackpad combo accessory, and finds a way to make Stage Manager suck less, that could be a real home run of a product.
Do I think it’ll happen? Never say never, and Apple has been known to drop a surprise or two at times. But with Apple’s supply chain leaking more than ever, I do fear we’d have seen this leak by now if it was this closer to an unveiling.
So there we have it, the October event has the potential to be even bigger than the one that’ll happen in September. It’s still a month or two away and we could see more leaks between now and then. But as things stand right now, I’m pretty pumped for what’s still to come.
Now, if we can just get these iPhones and Apple Watches out of the way first…