Several Apple devices are now over 18 months old, and with new hardware that could bring valuable improvements to them on the horizon, much of it already existing in other devices, there are five important products that seem to be overdue an update.
While some devices like the Pro Display XDR and HomePod mini are arguably also due an update, there are at least five main Apple devices that appear to be overdue a refresh – where a new model could yield substantial improvements. Likewise, as time goes by, it becomes increasingly difficult for Apple to justify leaving these devices in its product lineup without a hardware update.
Be sure to refer to the MacRumors Buyer’s Guide for constant updates on the age and status of all Apple’s released products, as well as when updates can reasonably be expected on the basis of when new models came out in previous years.
Current model released April 2021 (one year and seven months old).
Although there is some contention around whether Apple will reintroduce a larger iMac model, the current model with a 24-inch display features the M1 chip – meaning that it is outdated compared to the 13-inch MacBook Pro, redesigned MacBook Air, and iPad Pro . Apple announced the M2 chip in early June this year at WWDC, and since three different devices now contain the chip, the iMac is ripe for a chip upgrade.
Yet reports from Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman suggests that an iMac with the M2 chip is not on the horizon. Following the M2 series of Macs, Gurman said a new iMac will be among the first M3 series of Macs, which will include an updated 13-inch MacBook Air, an all-new 15-inch MacBook Air, and potentially a new 12-inch notebook that is “still in early development.”
The M3 chip is expected to be built on TSMC’s 3nm technology, unlike the M1 and M2, which are built using a 5nm process. The more advanced manufacturing process is expected to bring significant performance and efficiency improvements.
The device is expected to be the successor to the current M1 iMac and may not launch until late 2023 at the earliest, according to Gurman, meaning that it may still be some time before a new iMac emerges. It is not clear why Apple would exclude the iMac from the M2 chip and wait until the M3 chip is available, especially since this means that the current M1 model would be around for a considerable amount of time.
4. AirPods Max
Current model released December 2020 (one year and 11 months old).
Launched almost two years ago, the AirPods Max are the oldest AirPods still in Apple’s product lineup. Despite being the most expensive AirPods at $549, the AirPods Max misses out on a large number of features that came to the second-generation AirPods Pro earlier this year.
With the H2 chips, significantly improved Active Noise Cancellation, Bluetooth 5.3 connectivity, Adaptive Transparency, skin-detect sensors, the U1 chip, and Precision Finding, there are a plethora of notable features that are yet to come to the AirPods Max. The headphones could also benefit from a refreshed selection of color options, MagSafe or USB-C charging, Conversation Boost, and sweat and water resistance.
The status of the next-generation AirPods Max is not clear at the present time. In May 2021, Gurman said that Apple was not actively working on the second-generation AirPods Max, but it is not known if this is still the case. Seeing as Apple seems to launch one new AirPods product per year, the AirPods Max could be next up for a refresh.
3. Entry-Level Mac Mini
Current model released November 2020 (two years old).
The M1 Mac mini is the oldest latest-generation Apple silicon Mac, and, much like the 24-inch iMac, it could benefit from an upgrade to the M2 chip.
Even though adding an M2 chip to the Mac mini would presumably require limited internal changes, Apple has thus far neglected to do so. Reports earlier this year suggested that Apple originally “had plans” to introduce new Mac mini models in 2022, but these arrangements were “probably scrapped” in favor of the all-new Mac Studio. A new Mac mini with the M2 chip is reportedly still in the works for launch sometime in 2023.
2. Mac Pro
Current model released December 2019 (two years and 11 months old).
The Mac Pro is one of the last Intel-based Mac models still on sale and the only remaining Mac product line with no Apple silicon chip options. An all-new model that finally brings Apple silicon to the company’s top-tier Mac aimed at professionals has now been anticipated for over two years. At its “Peek Performance” event earlier this year, Apple even directly teased the launch of the Apple silicon Mac Pro, saying “that’s for another day.”
Previously, reports about a smaller Mac Pro model placed somewhere between the Mac mini and the Mac Pro made it difficult to know what to expect from the future of the high-end Mac Pro line, but it is now clear many of these rumors related to the Mac Studio, somewhat clarifying what can be expected from the next-generation Mac Pro.
Multiple reports from Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman about the Apple silicon Mac Pro’s chip options and specifications provide a fairly straightforward picture of what to expect from the new flagship Mac. According to Gurman, users will reportedly be able to configure the new Mac Pro with “M2 Ultra” and “M2 Extreme” chip options.
Yet beyond its basic specifications, little is currently known about the device’s design, ports, performance, and potential for modularity and customization, in real terms. Apple is expected to introduce the Apple silicon Mac Pro next year, and it could come alongside a “Pro” version of the Studio Display with a mini-LED panel and support for ProMotion.
1. Intel Mac Mini
Current model released October 2018 (four years and one month old).
While the M1 Mac mini offers an entry-level model in the lineup, the high-end Mac mini still features an Intel processor. The high-end Mac mini was theoretically refreshed in 2020 when Apple doubled the storage on the device, but it is otherwise identical to the 2018 Space Gray unibody model.
Apple has been believed to be working on a new Mac mini for some time. The potential of replacing the older high-end model with an Apple silicon machine was previously at the center of rumors related to new Mac minis, but now it looks like both the entry-level and the high-end model may be refreshed simultaneously. Apple is believed to be working on two versions of the next-generation Mac mini, one with the standard “M2” chip and a second higher-end model with the “M2 Pro” chip.
A new high-end Mac mini with Apple silicon could get massive performance and efficiency benefits compared to the current model, and feature more Thunderbolt ports than the entry-level model. There is also the potential of a redesign. As a machine from over two years before Apple began the transition to its own custom silicon chips in the Mac, and two years since the entry-level Mac mini was refreshed, the high-end Mac mini seems to be the Apple device that is most sorely in need of a hardware refresh.