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What to expect from Apple’s ‘Peek Performance’ March event

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New iPhone SE with 5G, upgraded iPad Air, and maybe a Mac update

“peek performance” Image: Apple

Apple is poised for its first livestream event of 2022 on Tuesday, March 8th at 1PM ET. The company sent out press invitation emails for the event titled “Peek Performance,” with rumors strongly suggesting Apple will announce a new third-generation iPhone SE with 5G.

The iPad Air might also get a new spec bump update at the event, with upgrades to both 5G and an A15 Bionic processor, similar to last year’s iPad Mini. Another rumor suggests an Apple Silicon “M2” upgrade alongside a redesigned MacBook Air might be coming. New Macs, including a more powerful Mac Mini / less powerful Mac Pro (possibly named the “Mac Studio”) with an M1 Pro / M1 Max processor update, could also be announced alongside a last-minute rumor that suggests the launch of a new monitor called the “Studio Display.”

That’s not all Apple might announce on Tuesday, so prime your expectations for the Apple event by reading about all the rumors and details below.

The iPhone SE 2 from 2020 might get a 5G refresh
Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

iPhone SE 3 with 5G

The upcoming third-generation iPhone SE is expected to succeed the 2020 model as the new budget-friendly iPhone option. The first iPhone SE came out in 2016 and remained available for four years, which means the SE line is set for a quicker change of pace.

According to reliable analyst and leaker Ming-Chi Kuo, the iPhone SE 3 will probably include the latest A15 Bionic chip, 5G with millimeter wave, 64GB base storage with 128GB / 256GB options, and retain the design and colors of the current model. Kuo shared the info via Twitter on a verified account that has remained quiet until now.

The 2020 iPhone SE offered shockingly good value with the then-latest chipset, but its battery life was never the star of the show. Now that US carriers only want phones with 5G on their shelves, the battery life in a new iPhone SE would be a bigger concern — especially if the form factor remains the same. The current iPhone SE body models the iPhone 8, but its aging design language dates all the way back to 2014 with the iPhone 6.

It’s also possible that the iPhone SE could borrow the form factor of the iPhone 13 Mini. Due to reports of less than expected sales of the iPhone 12 Mini, it’s rumored that the iPhone 13 Mini might be Apple’s last compact mainline phone. But just as the iPhone SE from 2016 carried on the compact design of the iPhone 5s, and the 2020 iPhone SE copied the smaller iPhone 8 design, the iPhone SE might become the new home for the Mini.

There’s no word on price yet, but don’t expect to see a reduction to the starting $399 price. 5G modems are still expensive, so a starting storage option of 64GB makes sense if the price is to remain intact. Touch ID would also keep costs down if the design remains.

The 2020 iPad Air and new iPad Mini have the same design and shape as the iPad Pro
iPad Air is expected to get 5G and a new processor
Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

A breath of fresh iPad Air

The iPad Air received an iPad Pro-style redesign in 2020: it got flat edges, thin bezels, Apple Pencil 2 support, USB-C, and a new Touch ID sleep / wake button. But the still fresh design is already lagging behind: the iPad Mini from last year followed the design of the iPad Air but one-upped it with with the latest A15 Bionic processor and 5G data options (though just sub-6GHz and no millimeter wave support).

So it makes sense for Apple to roll out an updated iPad Air with the latest A15 Bionic processor and with a 5G option — and perhaps center stage as well. And although FaceID would welcome, don’t expect any other changes.

Can you tell if this is the Intel or M1 MacBook Air? Hopefully you will be able to tell soon with the announcement of a redesigned M2 MacBook Air.
Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

MacBook Air redesigned and with a new M2 Processor

It’s possible that Apple announces a new MacBook Air with a new M2 chip at this event. The current design of the MacBook Air dates back to 2018 and was a testbed for the Apple M1 chip debut in 2020.

We reviewed the current MacBook Air with M1 as one of the best laptops you could buy in 2020, with a score that was cut short of perfect only because of the less-than-stellar webcam.

But it’s 2022 now, and we have freshly updated MacBook Pro designs with better screens and a better camera that you can expect the MacBook Air will soon follow. It might even come with a notch.

Mac Studio

A new Mac Mini was rumored to come late last year, but it never showed up. Right now, the only way to harness the power of the latest M1 Pro and M1 Max chips is in the latest MacBook Pro models. A new Mac Mini with the latest processor options would change that.

Rumors are coalescing around Apple announcing a kind of Mac Mini / Mac Pro hybrid device on Tuesday called the “Mac Studio,” according to 9to5Mac. In January Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman said the “mostly aluminum” device “could invoke nostalgia for the Power Mac G4 Cube,” suggesting it might resemble a taller Mac Mini.

The current Mac Mini design dates back to 2010, which was made to be just large enough to fit an optical drive. So it’s about time we get a new Mac Mini chassis, but if we don’t, then hopefully, we will at least get a “Pro” looking space gray finish again. We could even see Mac Mini split up into a pro option and a standard option that comes with a new M2 processor.

Right now, there’s only one iMac option with M1 processors, but it only has a 24-inch screen option. If we don’t see new larger iMacs on Tuesday, we might see it later in the year. The iMac Pro was also discontinued a year ago, so that would make for an interesting surprise, though there haven’t been any supply chain leaks that would indicate a new version is imminent. There’s also the Mac Pro that has no M1 option yet — and while it’s rumored to be in the works, don’t hold your breath for that one on Tuesday.

Studio Display

Last minute rumors suggest Apple will launch a new 27-inch 5K monitor to accompany its new Mac Studio desktop computer. The so-called “Studio Display,” according to 9to5Mac, would be priced for consumers, unlike Apple’s very expensive Pro Studio XDR display which starts at $5,000 before adding a $1,000 stand. Interestingly, Bloomberg’s Gurman says it’ll be running iOS, suggesting an A-series chip inside. Apple’s previous 27-inch offering listed for $999.

Apple got out of the monitor game in 2016 to the disappointment of many. The introduction of the Pro Studio XDR in 2019 was welcome news, but it was priced way beyond the means of most buyers. Let’s hope Apple rectifies that on Tuesday with something norms can afford.

Apple TV plus getting more shows and movies

The last time Apple held an event in March was in 2019, a live presentation that showcased new premium Apple services like Apple TV Plus. Three years later, it’s very possible Apple could showcase new TV shows or movies like it did last September.

One more thing?

Some speculation of the meaning of Apple’s event invite title “Peek Performance” points to the word “Peek” as the name of a VR / AR product. While Apple’s long-rumored headset product is not expected to be ready until 2023, perhaps there’s a chance Apple can surprise and delight — just don’t expect to see an Apple Car anytime soon.

Apple is also expected to release some software updates: iOS 15.4 that can let your Face ID-enabled iPhone unlock while wearing a mask and also a macOS Monterey plus iPad OS 15.4 update that will finally enable the iPad to Mac traversing Universal Control feature.

Check out all the latest Apple news as it breaks here on The Verge.

Update March 8th, 4:20AM ET: Added latest rumors about Mac Studio and Studio Display.