Apple has had a couple of quiet months since the turn of the year (read the predictions we made about new products in January and February if you want to haul us over the coals for our accuracy). There have been no announcements to write home about for fans of new iPads, AirPods or indeed any other Apple products since December.
But as the weather starts to perk up, so do the prospects of a major product launch. Apple loves a good spring event, and this year should be particularly intriguing.
In March 2021 we expect to be busy with product news. Apple is likely to hold a (virtual) press event, and it's got a stack of announcements to make. In this article we outline the new products you can expect to appear this month.
It feels like we've not had an AirPods update in years. In fact - ignoring the AirPods Max, which despite the name haven't got much in common with the rest of the range - it's been about one and a half since the launch of the AirPods Pro, and a full two years since the second-gen AirPods came out in March 2019. We're overdue.
Multiple sources point to an AirPods and/or AirPods Pro refresh in the first half of 2021, and with January and February done with and the early summer set to be dominated by WWDC's software updates, the smart money is on March or April.
Expect elements of the AirPods Pro design to filter down to the vanilla AirPods model, such as shortened stems, silicone ear tips and a charging case that hinges along the long rather than the short edge. We've seen some leaked photos that give an idea of the updated design:
Catch the latest rumours in our new AirPods (2021) news hub.
The updated models may be accompanied by an entirely new one: the rumoured AirPods Pro Lite. We remain mildly sceptical, however: is there really a gap in the market between the AirPods and the AirPods Pro?
We've mentioned a spring event - more on the specific timing of that in due course - and it's understood that this event will focus primarily on the iPad. (Apple has history in this area: its spring event in 2018 was all about the tablet's role in education.)
There are four iPad lines at the moment. There's virtually no chance we'll get a new iPad Air, since it was last updated as recently as October, but the other three could all see a refresh.
A new iPad Pro is probably the highest probability; the prolific leaker and YouTube presenter Jon Prosser has predicted it will arrive in March. Expect the Pro to acquire a mini-LED screen, 5G support in the cellular model, a tweaked design and, of course, a new processor - most likely a souped-up chip from the A14 generation.
There's also a good chance we'll get a new iPad mini this month, particularly since it's not been updated since spring 2019 and has been a popular model in the past. By narrowing the bezels Apple is expected to increase the screen diagonal from 7.9in to 8.4in.
Finally, we come to the baseline iPad, which is currently known as the iPad 10.2in - although that could change. Many pundits think Apple is about to move the 10.2in iPad into the frame of the recently discontinued iPad Air 3, which would mean an increase to a 10.5in diagonal. Read more in our new iPad hub.
Apple's long-rumoured Tile-killing object tracker has been on the cards for a while, and speculation neared fever pitch in late 2020. But Apple is still making us wait.
As far as we know the AirTag is a small disc or sticker that you'll be able to attach to a wallet, bunch of keys or other important item, and then track in the Find My app.
There's mountains of evidence that the company is close to making an announcement - visit our AirTags news hub for an exhaustive overview - and with spring arriving in the Northern Hemisphere and the UK and US beginning to emerge from lockdown, it feels like we're ready to start losing things again.
Things have gone a tiny bit quiet on the Apple TV front lately, but this remains a highly anticipated update.
It's been over three years since Apple last updated its set-top box, which is odd given the company's current focus on televisual entertainment - namely its Apple TV+ subscription service, which rolled out in March 2019 (and which will see some new content in March).
Plenty of rumours suggested the device would finally get updated in 2020, but nothing appeared. But surely we'll get a new Apple TV device with an A12X chip soon - and the expected March event would be the perfect occasion.
We think the next Mac update will be delayed until the summer, but there's an outside chance Apple could announce a new iMac - most likely the smaller model - in March, while the two 13in MacBook Pro models missed out on an update in November 2020 and could do with some attention too.
It probably comes down to whether these new models are getting entirely new processors. If Apple plans to re-use the M1 chips from the late-2020 launches, we could see a new iMac in March. But we think the company is more likely to wait for the M1X.
The 16in MacBook Pro, meanwhile, is long overdue an update, and back in December we thought there was a chance that Apple might give it newer Intel processors. But we now think Apple will instead wait a little longer and give it an M1 or M1X chip.
All in all, Mac fans are looking at long odds this month. But they will get plenty of love later in the year.
We've talked hardware products, but now let's talk dates. When is all this going to be announced?
Multiple sources have pointed to 16 March as the likeliest date, but as I've written elsewhere, the predictions that are recent are not reputable, and the prediction that is reputable is not recent. We're working off a Jon Prosser forecast made back in October, and two relatively unknown Twitter sources more recently.
Indeed Mark Gurman, a Bloomberg analyst who is probably more credible than the previous three put together, has come out with a definitive edict that there will not be an Apple event on 16 March.
(Interesting sidebar: how can an analyst know for sure that there won't be an event on a specific date, unless they know the date when the event will happen? And if they know that, why wouldn't they reveal it as an exclusive?)
Assuming we follow the Gurman rather than the Prosser theory, we could be looking at almost any mid-week date (you can rule out weekends, Mondays and Fridays) in March or April. The two Tuesdays either side, however - 9 and 23 March - are a decent bet.
For the latest tips and rumours, check out When is the next Apple event?
Apple released its documentary Billie Eilish: The World's a Little Blurry at the end of February, but the company's entertainment division has got far more up its sleeve. We're expecting one new movie to come out in March 2021:
- Cherry: "The wild journey of a disenfranchised young man from Ohio who meets the love of his life, only to risk losing her through a series of bad decisions and challenging life circumstances." Based on the bestselling novel by Nico Walker and expected to hit TV+ on 12 March.
Plus existing TV series will continue to release new episodes, and Apple is likely to reveal more new projects as lockdown becomes less of a hindrance to production. Catch all of the current and upcoming TV+ projects in our guide to What's on Apple TV+.
Apple Arcade releases
There won't be an event for any of these, but you can generally expect between one and four new games to appear on the Arcade service each month. (We've got a comprehensive ranking of the games already on there.)
The likely launches in March are as follows.
- SP!NG: Nice-looking physics puzzle game from a studio with an excellent pedigree. Expected to launch on 5 March.
- Cozy Grove: Gorgeous town builder/life sim with a vague Survivalists/Don't Starve vibe. This one, and the others below, are listed as just "Coming Soon".
- Farm It: The graphics and gameplay of this agricultural number (as far as it's revealed by the trailer) put me in mind of the less appealing freemium titles, or even Facebook games. I do enjoy the plant-growing parts of Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp and Stranded Sails, though, so maybe it'll be fun.
- Wonderbox: This feels like it's been in the Coming Soon section for ages. It's got kind of an Oceanhorn 3D fantasy RPG thing going on, but with more of a focus on self-contained isometric environments. You can create your own using Creator Mode.
Wonderbox's Creator Mode
For a complete roundup of the year's announcements, read our guide to the new Apple products coming in 2021. And never miss a bargain again: bookmark our roundup of the best Apple deals and check regularly for the lowest prices on a range of Apple products.