Expect exciting new MacBooks, iPad, Apple Watch and more in 2021


Expect Apple 2021 to bring exciting new MacBooks, iPads, Apple Watch features.
There are outstanding improvements coming to many Apple product in 2021.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Apple broke new ground in 2020, and will build on that in many ways in 2021. It should be a really significant year for Mac. And iPad and Apple Watch are expected to get important new features as well.

Plus, this could be the year a product Apple has been quietly developing finally breaks out.

2021 will be a banner year for Mac

Apple introduced its powerful M1 processor in 2020, a big step in moving Mac away from Intel. But the first computers with Apple Silicon are nearly identical to their predecessors. That’s allegedly going to change this year.

Trusted TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts we will see “new 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro models equipped with the Apple Silicon and all-new form factor design in late 2Q21 or 3Q21.” Others chimed in about a 14-inch MacBook Pro, too.

It remains unclear what the “all-new form factor” will include, but there’s been speculation that Apple will shrink the bezels on the current 13.3-inch MacBook Pro to make a 14-inch laptop in the same size.

And Face ID in both new Macs is possible, too. As is built-in 5G networking. But Craig Federighi, Apple’s SVP of software engineering, recently made it very clear there won’t be a Mac with a touchscreen for years, if ever.

Macs could benefit from further changes under the hood, too. It’s possible next-generation M-series processors will arrive in 2021, according the Bloomberg, further increasing the performance of new Mac laptops and desktops. That could include a version with up to 32 high-performance cores for use in a new Mac Pro.

We’ve been hearing rumors of a redesigned iMac for many months. It has been almost eight years since the all-in-one desktop got its last renovation. A switch to Apple Silicon is obvious, but many Mac fans want smaller bezels and larger screens than the current 21.5- and 27-inch versions.

Significant iPad improvements on the way

Apple’s top-tier tablets will get their own enhancements in the next 12 months. The iPad Pro line will get a mini-LED screen in the first half of 2021, according to Kuo. This isn’t an OLED display like the iPhone’s, but should improve the already excellent screen. And Digitimes reports optional built-in 5G is also coming.

The 2021 iPad Pro is widely expected to run a version of the speedy A14 processor that debuted in the iPad Air 4 and iPhone 12.

iPadOS 15 will bring its own changes. Its predecessor, version 14, didn’t offer much in the way of new features for tablet fans, but version 13 was a game-changer. Perhaps that’ll happen again. There are hints of upcoming support for multiple user accounts.

Apple Watch becomes healthier in 2021

There’ll be a redesigned Apple Watch in late 2021, according to Kuo. This will include “innovative health management functions and improved form factor design.”

It’s not known how the design will change, but the most-recent Apple Watch 6 was an incremental upgrade. It’s apparently time for a face-lift.

Blood pressure monitoring and blood sugar monitoring are among the possible new health features in the upcoming wearable.

An iPhone 12s might be in the offing

2020’s iPhone 12 is a big step forward, with 5G as well as larger and smaller screen options. So it might not be surprising that early rumors about the next version aren’t predicting significant changes. There’s talk from Kuo of better cameras in the 2021 iPhone but not much else.

That said, an unconfirmed report from Barclays predicts Apple will make a portless iPhone this year. The device would depend entirely on wireless networking and charging, not a Lightning port.

Apple seems to have changed its naming system for handsets. The next model is likely to be called the iPhone 13, even if iPhone 12s might be a better fit.

What’s coming for AirPods and HomePods

AirPods Pro could be joined by a cheaper AirPods version. These wireless earbuds will allegedly use the same design as the Pro version, but will hit a $200 price point by leaving out features like active noise cancellation.

Apple released the cheaper HomePod mini this autumn, and reports are mixed on whether there’ll be a followup. Bloomberg says there might be a new Apple smart speaker that fits between the $299 HomePod and the $99 mini. But Kuo said in December, “The demand for HomePod and HomePod mini were lower than expected, and the development of new smart speaker models had been temporarily suspended.”

2021 should be a big year for Apple TV and Apple TV+

There’ve been multiple reports indicating new Apple TV hardware is coming soon. This will supposedly have a faster processor specifically for improved gaming, taking advantage of many game titles available through Apple Arcade. There have even been rumors of an Apple game controller.

Apple TV+, Cupertino’s streaming video service, definitely has plenty of new shows and movies queued up for 2021. And this could include a higher percentage of blockbuster movies. This might even be the first year for an Apple TV+ Oscar nomination.