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M1X MacBook Pro and more: What to expect from Apple on October 18

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Apple has announced that it will hold a second fall event, titled "Unleashed," on Oct. 18. Here's what to expect from the company at the keynote, which is expected to focus on the Mac and audio accessories.

While Apple revealed the iPhone 13 range and many other products at its "California Streaming" special event in September, there are still quite a few other items awaiting launch — particularly in the Mac and AirPods lineups. That includes 16-inch and 14-inch MacBook Pro models and updated AirPods that combine elements of the AirPods and AirPods Pro.

So with that in mind, here's what you might end up seeing announced by Apple at its Oct. 18 event — and how likely each is.

When's the next product launch?

Apple on Tuesday sent out press invites for the second fall keynote of 2021. Titled "Unleashed," the invites were warp speed-themed and featured an AR easter egg that gave off the illusion of traveling through space.

The October keynote is slated for Oct. 18, which falls on a Monday. While the actual release date is fairly unusual, the company's event is scheduled for its usual time: 10 a.m. Pacific (1 p.m. Eastern). As with all of Apple's events during the coronavirus pandemic, the keynote will be prerecorded.

Of course, it's possible that Apple won't release every item on this list at the October event. In some cases, Apple releases smaller ticket items via press release or at spring keynotes that typically take place in March. With that in mind, here are rumored devices that Apple has yet to release along with our confidence level that they'll see an unveiling on Monday, Oct. 18.

AirPods 3, AirPods Pro Lite, AirPods Pro 2

Confidence: High

A key accessory to the iPhone, an update to the Airpods lineup was expected to happen during the "California Streaming" special event, but failed to show up. However, there is still high confidence that some form of update will take place soon.

Apple's AirPods.
Apple's AirPods.

Depending on the rumors, this could be in the form of the "AirPods 3," the "AirPods Pro Lite," or the "AirPods Pro 2."

While varying in exact specification, the general belief is that AirPods 3 are on the way, as an updated base model. Shorter stems and an improved battery life have been suggested, as well as changeable tips like the AirPods Pro.

The AirPods Pro Lite are expected to be similar to both AirPods and AirPods Pro, as it could offer Pro-style features but in a cheaper package.

AirPods Pro 2 are also seemingly on the way, bundling in updated motion trackers for use in fitness applications, along with multiple device sizes. However, some reports have pointed to the AirPods Pro 2 arriving in early 2022, rather than 2021.

Predictions in July and August pointed to a launch in the fall, while a pre-event September report pointed to the AirPods Pro arriving in the near future.

According to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the AirPods 3 may not necessarily replace AirPods, but could still cost more than them. They could potentially be priced higher while maintaining current AirPods pricing, or could prompt a price cut of the originals.

14-inch MacBook Pro, 16-inch MacBook Pro

Confidence: Very High

Apple is in the middle of its two-year schedule to switch over from Intel to Apple Silicon, which means it has to continue changing its Mac product line. Two prime candidates for the change are the 16-inch MacBook Pro and a new model, the 14-inch MacBook Pro.

Both sizes are anticipated to use an M1-style chip, possibly the "M1X" with an updated 12-core CPU and 16-core GPU. The display is rumored to take advantage of mini LED backlighting, enabling high contrast ratios similar to OLED panels, without the cost.

However, in mid-September, a report claimed OLED panels from Samsung Display were being mass-produced, potentially for use in a 16-inch MacBook Pro.

On September 24, code found in a macOS Monterey beta hinted at a pair of display resolutions that don't correspond to existing Macbooks, which could be for the new MacBook Pro models. The 14-inch may gain a "3024 x 1,964 Retina" display, while the 16-inch may have a "3,456 x 2,234 Retina" screen.

The MacBook Pro range is expected to see two new additions to the roster.
The MacBook Pro range is expected to see two new additions to the roster.

An August report claimed the two models would use the same chip, and so would be similar in terms of performance. The 14-inch would also apparently undergo a price rise from what the 13-inch MacBook Pro costs, at the same time.

Shortages in mini LED production in June led to further reports in July that the models are on the way, though still with a potential impact on the eventual release. Away from the display, Apple has been rumored to finally upgrade the camera, from a 720p FaceTime camera to a 1080p variant.

Supply chain reports say there's a third-quarter release happening for the models, while it was claimed in August that volume production was starting. However, an early September report suggested the global chip shortage could force a delay of release into October or November.

On September 12, Mark Gurman claimed that new M1X models should "hit shelves in the next several weeks," and later updated his forecast on October 3 to say a launch was due to occur sometime in October.

Apple, of course, has not confirmed any of this. But there was a briefly tantalizing typo on the company's German website, which mistakenly included an M1-based 16-inch MacBook Pro in a product description.

Assisting the claim of an imminent launch were the disappearances of 16-inch MacBook Pro power adapters from Apple's online store and physical outlets. The 96W USB-C power adapter was listed as out of stock, with delivery estimates at two to three months.

While not an exact predictor, since it could just be Apple updating the charger itself, it seems to be a good sign something is on the way for the model at least.

MacBook Air

Confidence: Medium

Among the initial M1-based Mac launches, the MacBook Air will be one year old in the fall, which could allow for an upgrade by Apple to occur without seeming too early in its product lifecycle. However, rumors point to a 2022 release instead of one in 2021.

In July, a report claimed Apple would wait until the first half of 2022 to release an "M2" or "M1X" MacBook Air. The "M2" claim was backed up by a second leaker, along with the early-2022 timeframe.

Early renders speculated there could be many color options for the MacBook Air refresh.
Early renders speculated there could be many color options for the MacBook Air refresh.

Meanwhile, analyst Kuo advised in July and August that a 2022 launch for the MacBook Air was expected.

Renders released in May seemed to indicate a redesign was on the way, complete with a thin wedge-less design that could barely fit a USB-C port on a side. A variety of colors was also claimed, complete with a white bezel and keys.

A new display has also been proposed, complete with mini LED backlighting.

According to a September 27 note from Kuo, Apple will start mass production for the updated MacBook Air in mid-2022, which could push the refresh later into the year.

Mac mini

Confidence: Medium

One of the three initial Apple Silicon launches, the Mac mini similarly didn't go through any sort of redesign ahead of its launch. For its first refresh, it seems it may receive that update.

Renders from May claim it will be a thinner device, with the circular base replaced by rubber strips, and the rear vent moved to the base. The aluminum chassis would have a "plexiglass-like" top panel, and a choice of colors has also been touted.

A render of what the new Mac mini could look like, complete with a perspex-like top.
A render of what the new Mac mini could look like, complete with a perspex-like top.

The port selection on the back was said to be made up of four USB 4-Thunderbolt 3 ports, a pair of USB-A ports, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI, and a magnetic circular power connector, as taken from the 24-inch iMac. Inside, the chip will be updated from the M1, to possibly the "M1X" or "M2."

An August 22 report claimed a high-performance Mac mini was on the way, using the "M1X," intended to remove the Intel-based versions Apple still sells from the product line. However, aside from an updated design and the use of "more ports," few details were offered in the report.

A release date is unknown, but it is easily plausible for Apple to launch the model in the fall or in early 2022.

Big Screen iMac

Confidence: Low

Since Apple had iMacs in two sizes for its Intel collection, it's logical for Apple to offer an alternate to the 24-inch iMac for its Apple Silicon range, most likely in replacing the current 27-inch iMac.

The 24-inch iMac may gain a bigger stablemate.
The 24-inch iMac may gain a bigger stablemate.

An April rumor, ahead of the 24-inch model's launch, said Apple was working on a version with a screen that was bigger than 27 inches. However, that rumor was sourced from a leaker who had allegedly "retired" from the "business."

In July, another rumor mentioned a bigger model, though was light on details. Later that same month, a "high-end iMac" rumor spread, with a launch in 2022 as Apple "does not want their devices to compete for attention."

There's not really much detail to go on for this supposed iMac, but it does still seem like a possibility for launch at some point.

More Apple devices coming, probably

There does continue to be a great deal of rumor and speculation regarding other Apple products that are expected to be launched. There's the "Apple Car", for instance, and "Apple Glass," or other Apple AR headset.

And, naturally, the rumors have already begun for September 2022's "iPhone 14." That next iPhone is the only one of these far-in-the-future products with a likely launch date, however.