What to expect at Apple’s October 13 event

What’s better than one fall Apple event? If you answered “two fall Apple events” then you’re in luck, because the Cupertino-based company is revving up the product announcement engine once again. On Tuesday, the company is scheduled to take the wraps off more items in the run-up to the holiday shopping season.

At the previous event, we got the Apple Watch Series 6 and the new iPad Air, so the big question is what’s in store this time. As always, there are plenty of rumors about what might get announced, and while there are some things that seem a near certitude, there are a handful of other possibilities that may or may not make appearance. Let’s run down the list of what’s actually likely to appear on Tuesday.

Twelfth night

We knew this year’s iPhones wouldn’t be arriving in September, thanks to Apple CFO Luca Maestri’s pronouncements during the company’s third-quarter earnings call, but as we’re now into October, a new smartphone is not only fair game, but a solid bet.

There are a few things that we can expect from the iPhone 12 lineup (besides the name). Current thinking includes several different models, including a smaller 5.4-inch display version (speculatively dubbed the “iPhone 12 mini”) alongside a larger 6.7-inch display (the presumptive iPhone 12 Pro Max) and two separate models with 6.1-inch displays: probably an iPhone 12 and an iPhone 12 Pro.

ipad air pencil2 Apple

The new iPad Air has an A14 processor, which we will probably see in the new iPhone.

At least some of these models are sure to include 5G networking, though it’s unclear whether that will include the much faster mmWave flavor. (Apple’s “Hi, Speed” tagline does seem to suggest that it’s a possibility.) Beyond that, we can expect processor bumps, probably using a version of the A14 Bionic showed off in the new iPad Air last month—expect Apple to spend some time talking about how its performance compares.

Some models of the iPhone 12—perhaps the Pro only—will likely include a LIDAR sensor similar to the one found on the 2020 revision of the iPad Pro (which means probably being treated to some new AR demos, oh joy). And you can never go wrong guessing that there will be improvements to cameras, since photography remains among the most competitive features in the smartphone market.

Finally, word is that the new iPhones will feature a new form factor reminiscent of the classic iPhone 4/5/5s straight-edge, which would match the iPad Pro and new iPad Air.

HomePod downsizes

The HomePod has been an interesting experiment for Apple, though I’d stop well short of calling it a success. It was a late entry to the smart speaker field, underpowered and expensive with a focus on great sound and…not much else. Subsequent updates have added some missing features, and it’s now regularly found on sale at a steep discount, but it’s hardly taken the world by storm.