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New iPad, MacBook Air, Mac mini: What to expect from Apple in the spring

iPad Pro and MacBook Air are March launch candidates.

There's a lot of products in Apple's pipeline, including some Mac refreshes, new iPads, and more. Here's what Apple is rumored to deliver in March 2024.

Following the launch of the Apple Vision Pro in early February, the rumor universe turns its attention to Apple's next product launches. Luckily, you may not have long to wait for them to arrive.

With the strong possibility of big Apple releases right around the corner, here's what leakers and industry observers think could be on the way.

Is Apple going to have a March event?

Apple is a very regular-as-clockwork entity when it comes to special events and product launches. Excluding some outliers, there's a fairly standard cadence to Apple's event schedule.

Everyone is familiar with the September event, which sees iPhone launches and some other products. That, and the usual appearance of Mac updates a month later.

Another fairly static event is WWDC, which is Apple's venue to show off its operating system updates that will come out with its fall product lineup. Though software and developer-centric, Apple does use the event for some hardware launches, with recent years including a lot of Apple Silicon discussion.

There is a third general event period for Apple, and that is in the spring. However, it's not a guaranteed thing.

In the last ten years, Apple has held an event in the Spring six times: 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019, 2021, and 2022. The lack of a Spring event in 2023 makes it a little more probable that one will take place this year.

For timing, three of those events were for late March, two were for early March, and one was for April. A late March event is therefore the favorite.

It also helps that rumor reports have referenced a March update for product launches.

One March 3 report claimed that Apple could launch new products within the first week of March. As evidence, it cited alleged media briefings and that stores would be refreshing their marketing materials at around the same time.

This discussion is about events, but it's equally plausible for Apple to perform a press release launch for products instead of a full-blown presentation.

In 2020, it brought out updated iPad Pro models and a 13-inch MacBook Air in March, followed by an April iPhone SE update, and MacBook Pro updates in May. In 2017, Apple did March launches for the iPhone SE and an iPad, and in spring 2014, it did the same for the iPhone 5C 8GB and a MacBook Air.

A formal event is Apple's preferred vehicle for launches, certainly. But at the same time, it gets a similar reaction from the media by handing out press releases.

On March 3, a pair of reports were published claiming that Apple wasn't going to go down the event route. One more persuasive report from Mark Gurman claimed that the launch would consist of website announcements, online videos, and marketing campaigns.

M3 MacBook Air

After the introduction of the M3 chip generation and new models of MacBook Pro in October, it seems that the MacBook Air lineup are prime candidates for an update to the latest Apple Silicon range.

2020 MacBook Air
2020 MacBook Air

Both the 13-inch MacBook Air and 15-inch MacBook Air should see changes in the opening months of 2024.

Rumors from a March 2023 DigiTimes report put forward the case of there being a MacBook Air update in 2024 or 2025, but with Apple switching over to an OLED-based display instead of an LCD version. This may not necessarily happen, due to the added cost of production that will increase the price of the MacBook Air itself.

In October, before the "Scary Fast" event, Mark Gurman proposed that the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro lines would get updates in spring 2024. While we already have the MacBook Pro on sale, that leaves the MacBook Air to actually ship.

After the October event, Gurman revised his predictions, reporting instead that M3 editions of the 13-inch MacBook Air and 15-inch MacBook Air will arrive in March. Codenamed J613 and J615, the models would be a spec-bump update in nature, namely one that has upgraded chips and internals without other big feature changes.

iPad and iPad Pro

Apple did not make a significant change to its iPad or iPad Pro ranges in 2023. The only change that occurred was the introduction of a new USB-C Apple Pencil.

This makes early 2024 ripe for iPad updates.

2022 12.9-inch iPad Pro on the Magic Keyboard
2022 12.9-inch iPad Pro on the Magic Keyboard

Starting with the iPad Air, a November claim from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo offered that two iPad Air models could arrive, with a 10.9-inch model accompanied by a 12.9-inch version. Rumors in October offered similar proclamations.

In theory, this mirrors the sizing of the iPad Pro lineup, but it won't have the mini-LED backlighting of the iPad Pro. Even so, it could still benefit from using a similar-spec Oxide backplane.

Kuo also forecast that there would be two OLED iPad Pro models that replace the mini-LED versions that already exist. Offering new form factor designs, the tablets will still continue in its use of the latest M3 chip, with the OLED display itself using a tandem design with LTPO backplanes.

In December, Gurman's proclamations doubled down on the larger iPad Air update, as well as the OLED display iPad Pro models, with no size changes. Updates to the Apple Pencil and Magic Keyboard were also touted by the reporter.

Later in December, Gurman added that the iPad Pro would get a revamp, but stopped short of saying what the revamp entailed.

In that report, he also offered some information about the rest of the iPad range, with both the iPad mini and entry-level iPad expected to be upgraded. Rather than an outright change, it will instead consist of a spec-bump for both models to newer A-series chips.

One April 20 anonymous leak made claims about the dimensions of the new iPad Air and Pro models.

Compared to the current models, the new 11-inch iPad Pro would be almost 2cm longer in length and 1cm shorter in width while also just 5.1mm thick. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro would change to gain 1cm in length, gain 0.6cm in width, and slim down to a 5mm thickness.

For the Air, the 11-inch model would be the same as current. The 12.9-inch model would measure 280.6mm long, 214.9mm wide, and 6mm thick, giving it a smaller footprint than the iPad Pro but marginally more thickness.

Mac mini

The Mac mini is usually among the first devices to be updated in an Apple Silicon generation, but it has so far missed out on being given the M3 chip. The only problem is that there's not really been much in the way of rumors for the compact desktop Mac in recent months.

Mac mini
Mac mini

There was some alleged testing of an M3 Mac mini in August 2023, meanwhile a Gurman prediction that it wouldn't appear in the fall turned out to be correct later in the year. At that time, Gurman deemed the M3 Mac mini as a "sure thing" that is "eventually coming," but could potentially arrive in late 2024.

As for what it could look like, a January 2023 claim by Kuo predicts that the 2024 Mac mini will look like previous models in terms of design.

It is possible that Apple could bundle the Mac mini alongside other Mac updates for a WWDC announcement, but it's entirely possible for an earlier launch to be made using the available M3 chip range.

Unlikely Appearances

While there are lists of products that could make an appearance in the spring, there's also a collection that are unlikely to surface.

Earlier iPhone SE models
Earlier iPhone SE models

For a start, while there are many rumors about the iPhone SE 4 gaining elements such as the Action Button and a new design, the rumor reports also continually say the release will happen in 2025, not 2024.

There are also many products that have been released too recently to be potential candidates for an updated version around March. Specifically anything that appeared from WWDC 2023 onwards, since they are too recent and could trigger a severe case of buyer's remorse.

Apple's heavy-hitting powerhouses, the Mac Pro and Mac Studio, last saw updates at WWDC 2023 to offer the M2 Ultra chip. Neither would be a good fit for a March launch, not least because of a nine-month difference in time.

With both requiring the M3 Ultra and their statuses as performance-led hardware, they seem to be more fitting for a launch at WWDC 2024, a time when it is more likely for Apple to roll out the required chips. Though after a disastrous launch, the Mac Pro may well skip this release entirely.

We already have an M3 24-inch iMac, but there have been rumors about a larger model on the way. However, rumors point to a 32-inch model arriving later in 2024, or more likely, 2025.

HomePod updates are also entirely a possibility for launch, but there's not been any significant rumor coverage in many months, for HomePod and HomePod mini.

There was a rumor about a HomePod with a seven-inch display arriving in the first half of 2024, according to Kuo. However, there's not been that much concrete rumor activity following the March 2023 forecast.