Apple just wrapped its "Spring Loaded" event where we were introduced to a wide range of new products, from the iMac to the iPad Pro. The dust is still settling on the event but the general reception so far has been positive.
As expected, the event was anchored by the new M1 chip, which finds its way into the new ultra-slim iMac and the iPad Pro. Everything the M1 touches turns to gold so it's no wonder those two products made the eyes of Apple fans glisten. There was even a brand new product in the form of the long-awaited AirTags, Apple's take on Tile trackers.
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Overall, the event was a compelling one, though not everything was a hit. Here is our Apple spring event scorecard with a breakdown of what went right, what went wrong, and what we want to see from Apple before the end of the year.
The good: iMac, AirTags and iPad
iMac: Wow. What a transformation. The new iMac is here and it is stunning. The driving force behind its makeover is the M1 chip which made its way from the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air into Apple's all-in-one desktop computer.
But first, we have to talk about the colors. They are beautiful. Available in seven hues — teal, yellow, orange, red, blue, purple and silver — the new iMac is a refreshing departure from Apple's typical you-get-what-you-get approach.
The star of the show, however, is the M1 chip. Not only will it provide unrivaled performance but the SoC also enables better thermals and, therefore, a much slimmer design.
Moreover, the iMac 2021 features a 24-inch, 4.5K Retina display with 500 nits of brightness and True Tone technology. It boasts a 1080p FaceTime HD camera with a larger sensor that allows it to function optimally in low light. Major improvements were also made to the microphones and speaker system.
iPad Pro: M1 chip? Check. mini-LED display? Check. 5G? Check. Unrivaled power, the fastest wireless speeds, and a breathtaking display, what else could you want in a tablet (there is one thing, see below)?
So, how much faster is it? Apple says graphics performance is 1,500 times quicker than the previous version. As for the screen, the Liquid Retina XDR display uses 10,000 mini LEDs to reach 1,000 nits of brightness and a 1 million:1 contrast ratio. The new tablet also brings better cameras, Thunderbolt 3 support and the ability to configure the Pro with up to 16GB of RAM. Best of all, the 11-inch and 12.9-inch cost the same as before, at $799 and $1,099.
AirTags: Well, they're here. After years of waiting, Apple spent just a few minutes explaining how AirTags can help you find lost items. They have a tiny circular design that matches the premium metal aesthetic of Apple's other products.
On the inside are a built-in speaker, accelerometer, Bluetooth LE, and a user-replaceable battery. The small pucks contain Apple's U1 chip with ultra-wideband tech to show you in the "Find My" app where items are located. A single AirTag will cost $29; four can be purchased for $99.
Ted Lasso Season 2: The folks at Laptop Mag haven't watched this series yet but it has a dedicated following. Jason Sudeikis as a football coach hired to coach a professional English soccer team? Yep, this is good.
The bad: iPad mini or Apple Pencil 3?
No iPad mini: The iPad mini is 2 years old and either needs to be updated or discontinued. It simply isn't a good value compared to Apple's other options. We're still hoping to see a refresh in the coming weeks or months. Until then, we struggle to recommend this tablet over the entry-level iPad or the iPad Air. Here is what we think we know about the iPad mini 6.
Where is the Apple Pencil 3?: Perhaps the biggest no-show of the event was the Apple Pencil 3. Apple's stylus isn't a product in need of updating, but the "Spring Loaded" tagline and recent leaks suggested Apple would reveal a new pen at this event. That it didn't is, frankly, shocking. Oh well, the Apple Pencil 2 is an excellent accessory for artists, creatives and frequent note-takers.
iPhone 12 in purple: Don't look at me! The rest of the Laptop Mag crew aren't keen on the new iPhone 12 color. I'm all about variety, so I say the more hues the better.
What we still want this year: MacBooks, AirPods and more
New MacBooks: We didn't expect them at this event. Still, we're eager to see what Apple does to the rumored 14-inch MacBook Pro and 16-inch MacBook Pro, its most premium laptops. Both still rely on Intel chips so it is time for them to adopt Apple Silicon. Recent reports claim they will be outfitted with a 12-core SoC. Yes, please!
AirPods 3 and AirPods Pro 2: This event was lacking any major audio upgrades. Both the AirPods 3 and AirPods Pro 2 are already the subject of a flurry of rumors. Surely, Apple has plans to release new truly wireless earbuds this year, right?
iPhone 13: Again, we weren't placing any bets on seeing new iPhones at this spring event. Those will arrive in September or October at the annual main event. We should see a new iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max this fall with rumors pointing to design tweaks and improved battery life.