Several times a year, Apple holds a special press event to announce a batch of new products. The last big event was on 10 November 2020, when Apple announced the new generation of M1 Macs.
It's been a few months, and we're all now wondering when the company will host its next keynote event - and, by extension, when we can expect new Apple products to launch.
In this article we look ahead to the likely dates (and product focus) of upcoming Apple events, starting with the spring keynote expected in March 2021.
When is Apple's next event?
We expect the next Apple event to take place in March 2021. Multiple sources have pointed to Tuesday 16 March 2021, although not everyone agrees.
Bear in mind that it will be some time before we know for sure: the company usually sends out event invitations about a week before. But that doesn't stop leakers from sharing information about potential dates and Apple industry experts from making educated guesses.
Most recently two Twitter accounts separately but almost simultaneously named 16 March 2021, and were promptly picked up by the Korean website Economic Daily News.
This followed the same prediction, way back in October, made by leaker Jon Prosser. The only problem with Prosser's prediction is that he suggested that the headline product would be the AirPods Studio - which in fact launched as the AirPods Max in December 2020.
Okay, how about “One More Thing” ?
After this November ARM Mac event, the next Apple Event (currently a digital event) will happen on Tuesday, March 16, 2021 🗓October 16, 2020
Since the Twitter sources pointed to 16 March, however, the respected analyst Mark Gurman has explicitly ruled that date out. His comments appear to leave room for a spring event at another point in March.
Will Apple hold a spring 2021 event?
Prosser expects a spring 2021 event, but does that mean Apple will definitely have one? It's a reasonable question - Apple doesn't always hold an event in the spring. But then again, some of the company's most significant announcements have been made at spring events over the years.
Apple held an event called Spring Forward on 9 March 2015, where it announced pricing and the launch date for the original Apple Watch and unveiled the 12in MacBook. Then on 21 March 2016, at the Let Us Loop You In event, we got the iPhone SE, the iPad Pro 9.7 and iOS 9.3.
Spring 2017 was a bit of a disappointment for Apple followers: instead of a full-blown event the company quietly closed down its online store then sent out a press release announcing the launch of the iPad 2017 and the red iPhone 7.
Then in 2018 Apple held an education-focused event on 27 March at a school in Chicago. The company made a series of announcements including a new iPad (with support for Apple Pencil), updates to Pages, Numbers and Keynote, and GarageBand. As well as talking at length about what it can do for teachers and students.
In 2019 there was an Apple Special Event where Apple showed off some of the content planned for its Apple TV+ subscription package, which launched later that year.
There was no event in 2020, but the launch of the iPhone SE may well have been unveiled at an event if it wasn't for the threat of COVID.
So an event is not only likely, based on Apple's love of announcing products in the spring, but according to leaker Jon Prosser, it's going to happen.
The next question is this: what will Apple announce?
What will Apple launch at the next event?
Here's what we expect to see in spring 2021, whether Apple holds an event or not:
Prosser suggested in his tweet above that the event headliner will be AirPods Studio. Prosser was wrong there - the AirPods Max overear headphones launched in December, but there are other new AirPods thought to be in the pipeline.
We could also see the rumoured AirPods Pro Lite - said to sit between the wireless charging standard AirPods and the AirPods Pro, or AirPods 3 - a successor to the standard AirPods.
Read about the new AirPods.
Analyst Ming Chi Kuo is predicting a spring launch for a new iPad Pro. Supply-chain sources cited by DigiTimes also expect a release in the first three months of 2021, and Jon Prosser has put his money on it launching in March specifically.
The new iPad Pro is said to feature a new mini-LED backlit display which will make the screen better than ever.
The iPad mini may also get an update - with rumours suggesting it will get a larger screen. By trimming down the bezels Apple will be able to bump from a 7.9in to a 8.4in screen diagonal, a small but worthwhile improvement.
Catch up on the latest rumours in our iPad Pro 2021 news hub.
Now that Apple has its TV+ subscription service, how about a smaller, cheaper Apple TV to go with it? If Apple wants to reach the masses with its service, a dongle that will let them stream Apple's new content to their TV sets could be an essential part of the equation.
There are reports that the company is now only ready to launch updated Apple TV hardware, but it actually has plans to ramp up the tech inside the device to make it a gaming machine to compete with the Switch and Xbox.
We look at the rumours about the new Apple TV in a separate article.
This is another new Apple product that has been rumoured for some time.
Graphical assets discovered in internal betas of iOS 13 strongly suggest that Apple is going to launch some kind of object tracker in the near future. This small disc or sticker will be applicable to keys, wallets and other important items, and will then be trackable in the revamped Find My app (which combines the old Find My iPhone and Find My Friends apps).
We examine these rumours in our Apple AirTags news hub.
iMac - with a new design!
The iMac has looked the same for around a decade, change is well overdue and 2021 might be the year we finally see it! Rumours suggest the 21.5in model will get a larger 23in screen, and Face ID is even rumoured.
It will also get a new Apple Silicon processor - likely to come to the smaller iMac before it arrives on the 27in model.
14in MacBook Pro
Apple updated two of the 13in MacBook Pro models in November 2020, but it left two alone. Apparently Apple has plans for the 2.0GHz 13in MacBook Pro that could involve a new design and a bigger screen.
Of course, like the iMac, this new MacBook Pro will also be getting a new Apple-made processor.
Read more in our 14in MacBook Pro roundup.
Apple's event schedule for 2021
We've covered what we expect Apple to launch at an event in the spring of 2021, but what about the rest of the year?
In a typical year there are normally up to four Apple events at which the company unveils its latest products in front of a large crowd.
In a less typical year like 2020 (and probably 2021) Apple doesn't invite people to events, but it makes no less of an impact by inviting everyone to join it in an online broadcast. We actually preferred Apple's video presentations in 2020 to the usual events in front of an audience, hopefully we will see more of the same in 2021 - and maybe even once we see the back of COVID-19.
Whether these events are physical or virtual Apple tends to hold three or four in a year:
- March, or spring (education and creativity themes, often includes iPads)
- June (WWDC - mostly software, sometimes high-end/pro hardware)
- September (iPhones and Apple Watches)
- October (iPads and sometimes consumer-focused Macs)
Some years there will be no spring event and other years Apple will skip the October event, like it did in 2019. Obviously 2020 was a little different to usual with events held a little later than usual due to COVID-related delays in production, and 2021 may also be.
So we can make some predictions about the other events in 2021...
It's a long way away, but what about 2021's WWDC? This will probably happen at some point in June. We predict Monday 14 June for the keynote.
Here's what Apple has announced at WWDC in the past:
- At WWDC 2020 Apple told us about iOS 14 and macOS 11 Big Sur. It also announced the transition from Intel to its own Apple Silicon processors.
- At WWDC 2019 Apple told us about iOS 13 and macOS Catalina. It also unveiled the new Mac Pro and new display.
- At WWDC 2018 we learned about iOS 12 and macOS Mojave. There were no hardware updates at that event.
- At WWDC 2017 we heard about iOS 11 and macOS 10.13 High Sierra. We also got our first look at the new iMac Pro which was previewed alongside the launch of new iMacs and an updated MacBook Pro and MacBook.
It doesn't take a genius, then, to predict that WWDC 2021 will feature updates to Apple's operating systems (iOS 15, macOS 12, tvOS, watchOS, and so on) but it may also include the appearance of other hardware - and we wouldn't be at all surprised to see a number of new Macs with next generation M1 Chips.
We have a dedicated article discussing what Apple could announce at WWDC, but here are some of our predictions:
We mentioned them above, but it may well be that we have to wait until WWDC before we see the new iMac and 14in MacBook Pro. Those aren't the only new Macs we might see in 2021. We're also anticipating an update to the 16in MacBook Pro.
Apple's made clear its interest in augmented reality, and we may hear more about Apple's plans to make Apple AR glasses at WWDC 2021!
The rumours have long suggested we could see Apple's AR product in 2021 - although we think it will be 2022 before we see the final product. Even if Apple's AR glasses aren't ready to launch they may well show them off at WWDC just to inspire developers to get working on apps for them.
Of course that won't mean Apple is done for the year. Here's what to expect after the spring 2021 event.
September 2021 event
Who knows what autumn 2021 could bring, but Apple has launched a new iPhone in the September of practically every year in the past decade, so a new iPhone seems almost certain for September.
2020 was an exception to that rule - with the iPhone launch in October, but the company still held a September event. Apple clearly likes to hold September events.
On that basis, if you want to pencil in a potential date for an iPhone launch - or at least a September event - based on the dates Apple has held previous September events took place on we predict Tuesday 14 or Wednesday 15 September 2021.
- 2020: Tuesday 15 September (Not an iPhone event)
- 2019: Tuesday 10 September
- 2018: Wednesday 12 September
- 2017: Tuesday 12 September
- 2016: Wednesday 7 September
- 2015: Wednesday 9 September
- 2014: Tuesday 9 September
- 2013: Tuesday 10 September
- 2012: Wednesday 12 September
October 2021 event
In 2020 October saw Apple unveil the iPhone 12. It was an unusual year though and normally the iPhone would have made its premiere in September. October is usually the month when Apple announces new Macs and new iPads and it may well do so in 2021.
Wondering what date to pencil in? The October events of the past have (or haven't) taken place on the following dates, so we anticipate an event on Tuesday 12 or Wednesday 13 October.
- 2020: Tuesday 13 October
- 2019: no October event
- 2018: Tuesday 30 October
- 2017: no October event
- 2016: Thursday 27 October
- 2015: no October event
- 2014: Thursday 16 October
- 2013: Tuesday 22 October
- 2012: Tuesday 23 October
- 2011: Tuesday 4 October