Radically Overhauled iPhone, iMac, iPads and MacBook Airs Coming In 2012 [Report]

Apple is supposedly is preparing to overhaul its key product trifecta: the iPhone, the iPad and iMac, as well as the MacBook Air in 2012. The report, based on the tech giant’s “upstream supply chain,” echos existing chatter the company will unveil new versions of its products in the coming year.

According to the Taiwan-based industry publication DigiTimes, there will be enough next-generation iPad parts for 2 million tablets by the end of 2011. Suppliers are asked to provide flat panel modules and LED light bars for two prototypes for now codenamed J1 and J2.

New versions of the iPhone and iMac won’t be seen until the second half of next year, according to the report.

Much of this can be filed under ‘duh,’ having already been the topic of much speculation. An updated iPhone will almost certainly appear in 2012, especially given the ho-hum reviews of the iPhone 4S, a near clone of the existing iPhone 4. This should also answer those consumers who bought into the flood of rumors that Apple would unveil an “iPhone 5’ that was a top-to-bottom remake of the iconic smartphone. The same goes for the iPad, which many have predicted will receive a new Retina Display.

However, 2012 could be the year the iMac overshadows the MacBook Pro, a category increasingly marginalized with the growth of both the desktop iMac and the MacBook Air. The new iMac could ditch its optical drive, which often becomes nearly useless after a few years thanks to construction issues, other reports suggest. Not only would this remove a support headache, but it would further align the product with Apple’s growing cloud-centered vision. As more and more apps are delivered by downloads, rather than via DVD or CD, an optical drive becomes like an appendix — no longer needed and just a pain.

All-in-all, no unexpected news and much to be welcomed by Apple consumers. Which product overhaul are you most excited by?

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  • Christopher Cobble

    MacBook Air…I’ll be saving my pennies starting……now.

  • Poggy Monster

    Hold on, if the iMac loses the optical drive, how do we burn disks?  I hope they leave it in the MacPro (assuming it doesn’t get discontinued) because professionals need optical drives.  Most workplaces do not get all content from download.  This will make it very hard for people trying to Boot Camp Windows…

  • brownlee

    You buy an external USB superdrive, same as if you own a Mac mini or MacBook Air.

  • FriarNurgle

    I like the word “Radical”.

  • FriarNurgle

    Bootable USB thumb drives. 

  • Chris

    what’s the reason not to have a CD drive in a desktop?Weight doesn’t count, and better have it for a few years, rather than not at all…better than having another USB cable for an external drive

  • prof_peabody

    The MacBook Air is not getting a complete redesign in 2012.  You can take that to the bank. 

  • Buster

    agreed. I’d say macbook pros will get redesigned to look more like Macbook Airs

  • Buster

    I have a couple friends who removed the optical drives of their iMac and replaced it with an extra harddrive. People need to get with the times, jump into the future and get rid of their cds and dvds

  • Anon Developer

    I’d be happy with a new iMac 

    - much much thinner. - No need for optical drive. I’ve used mine once and that was to reinstall iWork apps which are now in the Mac store.- Perhaps a chunky sized SSD type feature ( a la Air) so it’s able to sleep, wake up etc quick and a second larger classic disk HDD if really the cost is prohibitive to go pure SSD in 2012.

  • Anon Developer

    Agreed. It’s like having the whole floppy drive debate all over again. I say Kill it off. Worse comes to the worse you buy an external thing. If you want the fat, fine. but for the rest of us let us keep it truly beautiful in what it really needs.

  • John Neumann

    Apple is about due to replace these products as I recently bought an iMac and am looking at a 4S iPhone for Christmas. 

    I’m always a generation behind the curve. :D

  • guest

    Ah, yes the eternal ‘game’ of what will Apple do ? It would be great to know something in advance (i.e. at least 3 months before refresh) but instead you have only rumors and whatever you think is coming most of the time it’s not the thing you were sure that they have to do. They don’t have to anything, it’ll almost always be an iPhone 3gs or 4s, you can be sure they’ll put 128gb in iPod touch or iPad and add something like a better resolution but it won’t happen…. yet.

    So we have to wait and hope, I think MacPros should be discontinued, iMac should get a significant peed bump to replace them, MacBook Pros of course should get a redesign and SSD but I don’t know about losing optical drive because then what will be the difference ? That would become Macbook Air Pro so where’s diversity in that ? 
    Damn, sometimes i think it’s progressing to slow because I wanted an iPad in 2008 (after using my iPhone for some time I though it would be great to lose keyboard in my notebook) and iOS only delivered the goods for a tablet device just now (except widgets, faster multitasking, better downloading and easier management of files but that’s in iOS 5.3 or iOS 6 :-)

  • Guest

    I don’t like the idea of extra large Macbook Air as iMac. I still want an optical drives. I still have lots of DVDs as movies and TV shows. My iMac is bigger screen size than my TV in my room. I also burn my iMovies projects to DVDs Still is a used for drives. iMacs should be a still a desktop not just a extra large laptop.

  • Benjamen Scott

    Apple is known for it’s insight and innovation, but some times I feel like they drag their customers with them, even if they don’t want to. I have a fairly large music library, most of which I’ve collected through CDs from friends and libraries. To not have an optical drive would be more of a pain in the ass for me than it would be to not have one. I’m all for Apple’s push towards the future, but as a loyal consumer, I hope we get options.

  • Len Williams

    There are 2 camps regarding the Superdrive (CD/DVD drive) in Macs: 1) Those that rarely if ever use them, and 2) Those that use them regularly for accessing files from customers/clients and that burn disks for backup or to send files to customers/clients on CD/DVD. I am a professional graphic designer and fall into the second category. If Apple discontinues Superdrives in iMacs and Mac Pros like they’ve done with the Mac mini, I’ll have to get an external Superdrive because I can’t currently operate without it.

  • Alcofrybas

    I agree with Len, plus the fact that some users do not have blazing fast internet speeds.

  • Cincotta_e

    just get an external cd/dvd drive.

  • Athren Glory

    This overhaul better include inductance charging between systems, meaning the iMac should be able to charge iPads or iPhones nearby without the use of cables.

  • facebook-100001819333465

    mac book air baby

  • theaks2002

    “just a pain”?… wrong.   Many of us still like loading CDs and listening at full bandwidth fidelity.
    As well, my music software programs still come in DVD format.  I, as well as other end users who work in audio or heavy graphix,   will determine whether an optical drive is needed.  And when it comes to still having a use for a superdrive when Apple discontinues, I surely won’t buy their external one.  

  • devsoft

    Imac, definitely Imac, hope what apple so call “Production issue” wont happen!!! I want more thinner, and hope apple release 27 and new bigger size screen :) on Imac with 2tb hard disk by default. Just thinking it make me cant sleep all day~~

  • jackobean

    they need to fix Lion before they move on to “bigger badder” stuff and become another Microsoft (making 1/2-assed stuff and selling it because they can).  

  • Jon

    This is fairly obvious – it’s Apple – if you’re OS is made by the same guys as your hardware, expect it to become unsupported just as fast – like my G5 powermac, My old Ipod, Those rumours that they were considering leaving Intel over the summer really scared me off buying a new mac – I expect a couple of grand’s worth of hardware to last 5 years; if they did leave intel, 2 versions of OS later, support would be dropped.

    The reality is the late great Jobs is gone – the company’s had it’s morning year and will now be keener than ever to overhaul it’s line and show that it’s still king… as an Apple user since OS8, I’d love a return to the days before it being a fashion brand… but they didn’t make any money then!

    I think we can expect a max of around 18month cycles for mac products, the yearly release is going to be increasingly likely, I think they’re smarter than calling it the 2012 Iphone, but it’s the reality; they know how much of their sales – particularly in the portables are due to status, the “look what I can afford” mentality, and will rightly capitalise on it. I just really hope they don’t over extend themselves – sooner or later there won’t be anything less cool than something made by apple and I really don’t want a return to the days where the company was about to go bust and you had to post your computer across the country to get it serviced.

  • Kamil Wszola

    First thing the iMac needs is a larger hard drive.  3TB should probably do it. I have my 2TB filled up and had to get an external USB drive.  Second thing it needs is more USB ports.  4 is nothing. I have a headset, color printer, laser printer, USB Bose speakers and no ports left.  Had to get a hub, which sucks.  Additionally it needs bluRay drive.  Come on, its 2012, and Apple doesn’t allow us to burn bluray?  Lastly, it needs a matte screen.  Had to get a cover for mine, as I couldn’t see anything except light reflections in the screen.  If Apple does all these, I will buy, otherwise will stick to the 2011 model that I have.  

About the author

Ed SutherlandEd Sutherland is a veteran technology journalist who first heard of Apple when they grew on trees, Yahoo was run out of a Stanford dorm and Google was an unknown upstart. Since then, Sutherland has covered the whole technology landscape, concentrating on tracking the trends and figuring out the finances of large (and small) technology companies.

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