Wednesday May 16, 2018 6:03 am PDT by Joe Rossignol
Following over a year of shortages, Apple has fully replenished its supply of top case assemblies with glued-in batteries for Mid 2012 and Early 2013 models of the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display.
Mid 2012 MacBook Pro and its top case with battery via iFixit
A top case is the aluminum enclosure that houses the keyboard, trackpad, and speaker grilles on a MacBook Pro. For the two aforementioned models, the battery is affixed to the underside of the top case with strong adhesive, meaning the entire assembly needs to be swapped out for a simple battery replacement.
Now that inventory of the top cases is widely available again, Apple is "no longer offering free, delayed repairs" to customers with new service orders, according to its internal memo distributed to Apple Stores and Apple Authorized Service Providers on Tuesday and obtained by MacRumors from a reliable source.
Instead, Apple has resumed charging its standard out-of-warranty fee for all 15-inch MacBook Pro battery replacements, which is $199 in the United States. The fee is waived if the notebook is covered by an AppleCare+ plan.
Apple first notified service technicians about the "severe constraint" of the top cases in March 2017, when it temporarily stopped facilitating battery replacements. Apple expected the shortage to be resolved by September 15, 2017, but it later extended the date to November 15, 2017, and it evidently took longer.
As a temporary solution, Apple permitted customers to delay service until inventory became available, in exchange for Apple covering the full cost of the battery replacement. If a customer was unwilling to wait, however, Apple permitted them to exchange the MacBook Pro for a functionally equivalent model.
This generous policy resulted in many customers being able to exchange a 2012 MacBook Pro for a much newer model, such as a maxed-out refurbished 2016 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, for just the $199 cost of a battery replacement. The only requirement was that the battery failed Apple's diagnostic test.
Apple stopped offering replacement units for repairs initiated after July 26, 2017, due to a temporary improvement in top case availability, but it began offering free, delayed battery replacements again for repairs initiated after August 25, 2017. That policy is what appears to be ending as of this week.
All in all, customers with a Mid 2012 or Early 2013 model 15-inch MacBook Pro who are in need of a new battery should be able to pay for the service without significant delays or other issues going forward. The process can be initiated from the Contact Apple Support page by selecting Mac → Mac Notebooks.
Apple has been hit with a class action lawsuit over "defective" keyboards in recent MacBook and MacBook Pro models.
The lawsuit, filed in Northern California district court, alleges that the low-profile, butterfly-switch keyboards in 2015-and-later MacBook and 2016-and-later MacBook Pro models are "prone to fail," resulting in "non-responsive keys" and other issues, according to court documents obtained by MacRumors.
The lawsuit was filed by law firm Girard Gibbs LLP on behalf of MacBook Pro owners Zixuan Rao and Kyle Barbaro, residents of San Diego, California and Melrose, Massachusetts respectively.
The proposed class:
All persons within the United States who purchased, other than for resale, a model year 2015 or later Apple MacBook, or a model year 2016 or later MacBook Pro laptop, equipped with a "butterfly" keyboard.
The complaint notes that keys can become unresponsive when small amounts of dust or debris accumulate under or around them:
Apple's butterfly keyboard and MacBook are produced and assembled in such a way that when minimal amounts of dust or debris accumulate under or around a key, keystrokes fail to register. […] As a result of the defect, consumers who purchased a MacBook face a constant threat of non-responsive keys and accompanying keyboard failure. When one or more of the keys on the keyboard fail, the MacBook can no longer serve its core function: typing.
The lawsuit alleges that "thousands of consumers have experienced this defect," and highlights over 20 complaints shared by users on the Apple Support Communities, MacRumors Forums, and Reddit. The complaint also cites a Change.org petition about this issue that currently has over 22,000 signatures.
One of the comments included from a MacRumors reader in May 2015:
The C key on my new MacBook has a subtle but noticeable problem. I noticed yesterday morning that typing C wasn't always registering. I played around with the key and discovered that pressing the top of the key registered a normal click like the rest of the keys, but pressing at the bottom of the key was mushy with no click.
The lawsuit alleges that Apple is "aware of" the keyboard issues, either through "pre-release testing," customer complaints, or a combination of the two, but has "failed and continues to fail to disclose" the defect to customers:
Apple knew that the MacBook is defective at or before the time it began selling the affected models to the public. Complaints of keyboard failures began to come in shortly after the 2015 MacBook was launched. Despite awareness of the keyboard defect, Apple equipped future model MacBook and MacBook Pro laptops with the butterfly keyboard, and continued selling these laptops to consumers at premium prices.
Apple is said to "continuously monitor" complaints on websites like MacRumors:
Apple has been aware of these serious keyboard problems through the discussion pages hosted on Apple’s website as early as May 2015, the month after the MacBook was released. Apple continuously monitors those web pages. Apple also regularly monitors other web pages, including MacRumors, on which consumers complained about keyboard problems beginning on April 15, 2015, just five days after the MacBook came to market.
MacRumors first highlighted keyboard issues with the 2016 MacBook Pro over a year ago, including non-functional keys, strange high-pitched sounds on some keys, and keys with a non-uniform feel. The issues are back in the spotlight again after AppleInsider shared data on failure rates of the keyboards a few weeks ago.
The lawsuit acknowledges that Apple provides a support document with instructions to clean the keyboard of a MacBook or MacBook Pro with "an unresponsive key or "a key that feels different than the other keys," but notes that the steps "do not fix the keyboard defect or prevent the keyboard from failing."
When a customer takes their MacBook or MacBook Pro to a Genius Bar, the complaint alleges that Apple "routinely refuses to honor its warranty obligations," or is unable to permanently fix the problem when it does.
In the United States, Apple charges an out-of-warranty fee of $700 to replace the keyboard on affected MacBook Pro models, as the process requires replacing the entire top case assembly, which also houses the trackpad and speaker grilles. The fee is less if the notebook is covered by an AppleCare+ plan.
One of the two named plaintiffs in the lawsuit:
Mr. Barbaro took his laptop to the Genius Bar on September 11, 2017. A Genius Bar technician inspected the keyboard and confirmed that the space bar and caps lock keys were unresponsive. The technician offered to send the laptop to Apple's service depot for repairs. Mr. Barbaro sent his computer in, and after about one week, Mr. Barbaro received the repaired MacBook. He continued to use the MacBook for ordinary tasks until December 2017, when the space bar again became unresponsive in the same way as the first time his MacBook manifested the keyboard defect.
Mr. Barbaro returned to the Genius Bar to seek assistance. At the Genius Bar, a technician examined the laptop and determined that it would cost over $700 to repair the problem. The technician informed Mr. Barbaro that his warranty had expired and that he would be responsible for the full cost of the repairs. Mr. Barbaro declined to pay for the repairs. He still has the MacBook. It remains defective.
Apple is accused of, among other things, violating California's Unfair Competition Law and Consumer Legal Remedies Act, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, and fraudulent concealment.
The complaint requests that Apple pays punitive damages in an amount to be proven at trial, publicly discloses the defect, and reimburses customers for all costs attributable to remedying or replacing defective MacBook or MacBook Pro models. A jury trial has been demanded in Northern California district court.
Our Take: Apple has yet to launch a repair program for MacBook Pro keyboard issues, either publicly or internally, suggesting that the number of customers affected might not meet its threshold for doing so. But, given the increased attention and lawsuit, Apple may feel obligated to take action soon enough.
One of Apple's biggest competitors in the laptop space is arguably Microsoft, with its line of portable, productivity-focused Surface Book machines. Microsoft in November released its newest product, the Surface Book 2, a 2-in-1 PC that has quite a few selling points to entice Apple customers.
In our latest YouTube video, we took a look at the 15-inch Surface Book 2 and compared it to the 2016 15-inch MacBook Pro across a number of categories including build quality and design, key features, and overall usage experience for someone in the Apple ecosystem.
Both the Surface Book 2 and Apple's most recent MacBook Pro models are powerful machines with some of the latest technology in processor and graphics cards, so modern apps, games, and other software features run well on either device.
The Surface Book 2 and the MacBook Pro are both well-built with attractive, eye-catching designs, but there are some major differences here. While the MacBook Pro is a traditional laptop with a display and attached keyboard, the Surface Book 2 is a 2-in-1 with a touch display that can be converted into a tablet.
Because of its 2-in-1 design, the Surface Book 2 has an unusual hinged design that lets the display be folded backwards or disconnected from the keyboard entirely for use in a tablet mode. The MacBook Pro, meanwhile, has no touch screen and it is a unibody machine.
Microsoft's Surface Book 2 has a wealth of ports that are missing from the MacBook Pro, which only offers 4 USB-C ports (albeit with Thunderbolt 3). The Surface Book 2 has an SD card slot, a USB-C port, and two USB-A ports, something that Apple users unhappy with the MacBook Pro port situation will appreciate.
The Surface Book 2 may have a 3240 x 2160 touch screen display, but it has some faults compared to the MacBook Pro's 2880 x 1800 display. It's nowhere near as bright, and it's also not quite as crisp. As for the trackpad, the MacBook Pro wins out because of its large trackpad equipped with haptic feedback and support for multiple gestures. Trackpad is one area where PC laptops often lag behind Apple, and the Surface Book 2 is no exception.
When it comes to the keyboard, the Surface Book 2 has a softer keyboard that's not quite as clicky and solid as the keyboard of the MacBook Pro, but as we well know, the keyboard redesign on the 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pro models has been receiving a lot of attention lately for reliability issues and its seemingly frequent failures, so the Surface Book 2 may have the edge here.
The aforementioned 2-in-1 tablet option for the Surface Book 2 is something Apple just can't compete with. You can press a key on the Surface Book 2's keyboard and pull the display right out of the keyboard to use it as a standalone touch-based tablet with the Surface Pen and the Surface Dial, both of which are ideal for creative tasks.
There are no input devices like a Surface Pen available for the MacBook Pro, and the main feature that it can boast over the Surface Book 2 is the Touch Bar, something that arguably does not get as much use as a 2-in-1 design.
The Surface Book 2 has a lot of perks that aren't available on Apple's MacBook Pro, but choosing to adopt the machine over an Apple device is still going to be difficult for those enmeshed in the Apple ecosystem. There's a lot of integration between macOS and iOS, and features like Continuity, Handoff, and iCloud will be missed if you're used to Apple devices. Certain software, like Final Cut Pro, is also limited to Apple's machines.
So which one is better? As with a lot of devices that are similar in specs, it's tough to say. It largely comes down to preference - do you want to use macOS or Windows? Most people in the Apple ecosystem likely won't want to give up macOS/iOS perks for the Surface Book 2's feature set, but those who don't use a lot of crossover functionality won't miss macOS as much.
If you're not tied to a specific operating system and don't mind mixing devices across different platforms, Microsoft's Surface Book 2 is absolutely worth considering as a powerful, capable machine that offers functionality you can't get in a MacBook Pro.
Would you switch from an Apple machine to the Surface Book 2? Let us know in the comments.
Apple says that a limited number of these units feature a component that can fail and cause the built-in battery to expand. It is not a safety issue, according to the company, and Apple will replace all eligible batteries.
Customers who want to see if their machines are eligible for a fresh battery should use the serial number checker on the MacBook Pro Battery Replacement page. You can find your serial number by clicking on the Apple logo in the menu bar and selecting "About This Mac." The serial number is located at the bottom of the information window.
Affected customers who are eligible for a new battery will need to visit an Apple Authorized Service Provider, make an appointment at an Apple retail store, or mail their device into an Apple Repair Center after initiating a repair with Apple Support.
Apple suggests customers who are getting a battery replacement back up their machines ahead of time. Apple also says that if the MacBook Pro in question has damage that will impair the replacement of the battery, it must be addressed prior to the battery replacement process.
The most notable new chip is the first-ever Core i9 processor for notebooks. With six cores and 12 threads, Intel says the Core i9 is the highest-performance notebook processor it has ever designed. The H-series processor has a 2.9GHz base clock speed with a Turbo Boost frequency of up to 4.8GHz.
Given the Core i9 is a 45W chip, it is appropriate for the high-end 15-inch MacBook Pro and could be included in a refreshed version of the notebook as early as this year. Apple last updated the MacBook Pro lineup with Kaby Lake processors at WWDC in June 2017, so a Core i9 model could debut at WWDC 2018.
Of note, while the Core i9 processor allows for systems with up to 32GB of RAM, this is unlikely to apply to the next MacBook Pro, since low-power DDR4 RAM is still not supported. Back in 2016, Apple's marketing chief Phil Schiller said 32GB of standard DDR4 RAM would compromise battery life.
The eighth-generation Core processor family also includes new quad-core Core i5 and Core i7 processors with base clock speeds between 2.3GHz and 2.7GHz and integrated Iris Plus graphics. These 28W chips, part of the U-series, are suitable for future 13-inch MacBook Pro and Mac mini models.
Intel says the new Core i9, i7, and i5 processors for notebooks are based on its Coffee Lake platform and leverage its 14nm++ manufacturing process, enabling the chips to deliver up to 41 percent more frames per second in gameplay or edit 4K video up to 59 percent faster than the previous generation with the same discrete graphics, based on its internal benchmark testing.
As with Intel's Kaby Lake Refresh processors introduced last August, these new Coffee Lake chips pave the way for a quad-core 13-inch MacBook Pro should Apple choose to release one. The current lineup is limited to dual-core models.
Intel also expanded its lineup of eighth-generation Core processors for desktops today after an initial rollout last October. Two chips suitable for future 4K and 5K standard iMac models include six-core Core i5-8600 and Core i5-8500 chips with base clock speeds of 3.1GHz and 3.0GHz respectively.
The desktop lineup also includes six lower-power 35W chips with four or six cores and base clock speeds between 2.1GHz and 3.2GHz. While the current Mac mini lineup uses 28W chips, previous generations have used up to 45W chips, so the 35W processors could be suitable for future Mac mini models.
All in all, Intel has potentially laid the groundwork for a high-performance, top-of-the-line 15-inch MacBook Pro, quad-core 13-inch MacBook Pro models, a long-overdue Mac mini refresh, and updated iMacs as early as this year.
Looking further ahead, Bloomberg News on Monday reported that Apple plans to design and use its own processors for Macs starting as early as 2020. Intel shares saw their biggest price drop in two years following the report.
Apple is planning to transition from Intel chips to its own custom made Mac chips as early as 2020, reports Bloomberg.
Apple's initiative, reportedly code named "Kalamata," is part of an effort to make Macs, iPhones, and iPads work "more similarly and seamlessly together" according to unspecified sources that spoke to Bloomberg. Apple already designs its own A-series chips found in iPhones and iPads.
The Mac chip plans are said to be in the early stages of development and the transition from Intel chips to Apple chips could involve multiple steps, starting with the "Marzipan" initiative coming in iOS 12 and macOS 10.14 to allow developers to create a single app able to run on both iOS and macOS.
With its own chips, Apple would not be forced to wait on new Intel chips before being able to release updated Macs, and the company could integrate new features on a faster schedule.
The shift would also allow Cupertino, California-based Apple to more quickly bring new features to all of its products and differentiate them from the competition. Using its own main chips would make Apple the only major PC maker to use its own processors. Dell Technologies Inc., HP Inc., Lenovo Group Ltd., and Asustek Computer Inc. use Intel chips.
By using its own chips, Apple would be able to more tightly integrate new hardware and software, potentially resulting in systems with better battery life -- similar to iPads, which use Apple chips.
Apple has already begun using custom designed T1 and T2 chips in its MacBook Pro and iMac Pro machines, and the company is said to be planning to integrate additional custom co-processors in Macs coming later this year. The custom chips will also be used in the upcoming Mac Pro, which is in development.
The T1 chip, included in the MacBook Pro, powers the Touch Bar and authenticates Touch ID. The T2 chip, in the iMac Pro integrates several components including the system management controller, image signal processor, SSD controller, and a Secure Enclave with a hardware-based encryption engine.
Previous rumors have suggested Apple is interested in creating its own ARM-based core processor chips for its Mac lineup in order to reduce its dependence on Intel. Apple is also rumored to be pursuing development of its own modem chips to also reduce reliance on both Intel and Qualcomm.
A move away from Intel would have a major impact on Intel, with Apple providing approximately five percent of Intel's annual revenue. Intel stock has already dropped following the news.
Tuesday March 6, 2018 7:10 am PST by Joe Rossignol
Twelve South today announced that its BookArc möd stand is now compatible with MacBook Pro models released in 2016 and later.
The stand now ships with two interchangeable silicone inserts that can hold 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro models with Thunderbolt 3 ports, older 2012-2015 era MacBook Pro models, any 12-inch MacBook, and any MacBook Air.
BookArc is a popular stand for docking a MacBook vertically in closed-display mode. The aluminum version is already compatible with the 2016 and later MacBook Pro, and now the hardwood version is too after a much longer wait.
Monday February 12, 2018 7:32 am PST by Joe Rossignol
Apple's lineup of MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro models accounted for roughly one in ten notebooks shipped worldwide last year, according to data published today by research firm TrendForce.
TrendForce claims that Apple surpassed ASUS to become the world's fourth largest notebook vendor, with an estimated 9.6 percent market share in 2017, up from 8.3 percent in 2016. ASUS saw its market share drop to an estimated 9.5 percent last year, down from a reported 10.3 percent in 2016.
The research firm says Apple releasing updated MacBook Pro models in June 2017 helped the company expand its shipments by 18 percent for the whole year—supposedly the highest growth rate among all notebook brands.
TrendForce estimates notebook shipments from all brands totaled 164.7 million units worldwide, a year-on-year increase of 2.1 percent. Windows PC makers HP, Lenovo, and Dell led the industry with estimated 24.3 percent, 20.2 percent, and 15.2 percent market shares respectively in 2017.
It's important to note that Apple doesn't break down its Mac sales on a model-by-model basis in its earnings reports, so TrendForce's data is estimated, likely based in part on the average selling price of a Mac.
Another caveat is that PC makers like HP, Lenovo, and Dell sell a wide variety of notebooks at all different price points, while Apple primarily targets the high-end market, with its cheapest notebook being the outdated MacBook Air for $999 and up. Apple's profit margins are also significantly higher.
Apple routinely flip-flops between fourth and fifth place in the notebook market, so these results aren't overly surprising. The company is expected to remain the world's fourth most popular notebook vendor in 2018.
What's next for Apple's notebook lineup? We haven't heard much yet, but a recent report claimed that at least three new Mac models integrated with custom co-processors, including updated notebooks and a new desktop, are planned for release later this year. MacBook refreshes often occur between March and June.
Apple's desktop lineup has actually received more attention than MacBooks recently. In addition to the all-new iMac Pro, Apple continues to work on a Mac Pro with an upgradeable design. The portable Mac mini has also gone well over three years without an update, and could certainly use a refresh.
For a history of release dates and the latest rumors about the MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro, be sure to visit our Mac Buyer's Guide.
Monday January 29, 2018 5:40 am PST by Joe Rossignol
Apple is developing at at least three new Mac models integrated with custom co-processors, including updated notebooks and a new desktop, according to Mark Gurman, reporting for Bloomberg News.
The report claims the new models could be released as early as this year, but it doesn't specify which ones they'll be. Of course, Apple's notebook lineup includes the MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro, while its desktop lineup includes the iMac and iMac Pro, Mac Pro, and aging Mac mini.
In terms of notebooks, the MacBook and MacBook Pro are the most likely candidates for a refresh this year, as the MacBook Air has not received any meaningful updates since March 2015, nearly three years ago, and it seems like Apple is only keeping it around for its $999 price tag at this point.
MacBook Pro with Touch Bar models released in 2016 and later are already equipped with Apple's custom T1 chip that authenticates and secures Touch ID and Apple Pay respectively, and it's possible the notebook could be updated with a newer chip that offloads even more tasks from the main Intel processor.
MacBook models do not feature a custom co-processor, but unless Apple is planning to extend the Touch Bar to the 12-inch notebooks, it remains to be seen if there would be much necessity for a T-series chip.
There's also a single rumor from DigiTimes, which doesn't have the most reliable track record, claiming Apple will release a new entry-level 13-inch MacBook in the second half of this year. It's unclear if this model would be a potential MacBook Air replacement, or where else it would slot in Apple's notebook lineup.
Shifting to desktops, the iMac Pro is already equipped with Apple's custom T2 chip for enhanced security and integration. The co-processor integrates several previously separate components, including the system management controller, image signal processor, audio controller, and SSD controller.
The T2 chip has a Secure Enclave that makes the iMac Pro even more secure with new encrypted storage and secure boot capabilities. It's possible Apple could extend this co-processor to standard iMac models this year.
Apple has also confirmed it is working on an all-new modular Mac Pro, although it only revealed that its release date would come at some point after 2017. And the Mac mini has gone over 1,200 days without an update, according to the MacRumors Buyer's Guide, and the portable computer could sorely use a refresh.
Much of the Bloomberg News report is focused on Apple's shift towards in-house chip design, reducing its dependance on companies like Qualcomm and Imagination Tech, so further details about the new Macs are scant.
Monday January 15, 2018 1:49 am PST by Tim Hardwick
Apple currently has no plans to make any major upgrades to its MacBook Pro lineup in 2018, according to DigiTimes. Of course, if accurate, the report doesn't rule out a MacBook Pro refresh or update of any kind this year.
An excerpt from the report, citing sources within Apple's supply chain:
The sources revealed that Foxconn had been aggressively working to land more MacBook orders from Apple during the past few years by offering attractive quotes. Since Apple has not had a major upgrade to its MacBook product line since the releases of its new MacBook Pro devices at the end of 2016 and has no plan for one in 2018, the US-based vendor is planning to shift orders for models that are already in mass production to Foxconn to save costs and reduce risks.
Apple's manufacturing partner Foxconn could land a large number of additional MacBook orders this year, the report adds. The increase could come at the expense of Quanta Computer, which has been Apple's major MacBook supplier in recent years.
Taiwan-based Foxconn has reportedly been working to boost its chances of notebook orders from Apple by offering attractive quotes. Apple will therefore switch MacBook orders to Foxconn for models that are already in mass production as a way to save costs and reduce risks, according to the sources cited.
Foxconn is expected to begin mass shipments to fulfill the new orders in the second quarter of 2018, said the sources. Foxconn and Quanta both declined to comment on their clients or orders. The sources pointed out that Apple started outsourcing the assembly for some of MacBooks' components to Foxconn's plants in Shenzhen, China in the second half of 2017.
Despite the news, Quanta is expected to remain Apple's biggest supplier going into 2018. According to DigiTimes' research, out of 15 million MacBooks shipped to Apple a year, the shipment ratio between Quanta and Foxconn has been at around 8:2 for the past five years. Last year alone, Quanta had a 79.5 percent share and Foxconn took 20.5 percent.
Quanta is said to be looking to other brand vendors to offset the impact of the loss of orders, as it aims for similar growth to the market average in 2018. The Taiwan-based firm shipped 38.7 million notebooks last year, up five percent on year, and is currently the largest notebook supplier for HP, Apple, Acer, and Asus.
Quanta also maintains orders for the Apple Watch, and is said to be teaming up with Israeli-based augmented reality company Lumus to manufacture lenses for smart glasses. It's not clear if Quanta and Lumus are working with Apple on a future AR headset or smart glasses, but it is a possibility as rumors suggest Apple has a wearable augmented reality product in the works.
Friday January 12, 2018 5:37 am PST by Joe Rossignol
Apple rose to become the world's fourth-largest PC maker in 2017, as Mac sales increased to nearly 20 million during the year, according to the latest estimates shared by research firms IDC and Gartner.
The roughly 19.6 million total is based on Apple's reported Mac sales of 13.9 million units in the first three calendar quarters of the year, while IDC and Gartner estimate Apple sold another 5.4 million to 5.7 million Macs in the fourth quarter.
Apple officially reported sales of 18.5 million Macs in 2016, so the company is looking at year-over-year growth of around four to six percent based on the IDC and Gartner data. Apple sold over 20 million Macs in both 2014 and 2015, however, so 2017 was likely not a record-breaking year for the Mac.
Apple leapfrogged either Asus or Acer depending on which dataset you look at, as IDC and Gartner have slightly different estimates. Both research firms have Apple trailing behind HP, Lenovo, and Dell, which shipped an estimated 58.8 million, 54.8 million, and 41.8 million PCs respectively last year per IDC.
Apple's growth in 2017 is impressive given Gartner claims it was the sixth consecutive year of declining PC shipments. The year saw Apple refresh its MacBook Pro and iMac lineups with Kaby Lake processors, give the base MacBook Air a slight speed boost, and launch an all-new iMac Pro.
We'll know exactly how many Macs were sold in 2017 when Apple reports its next earnings results on February 1, but if these estimates prove to be accurate, it was a financially successful year for the Mac.
Friday December 29, 2017 11:13 am PST by Juli Clover
Like 2017, 2018 promises to be a major year for Apple, with many new products on the horizon. We'll get Apple's first smart speaker -- the HomePod -- this year, along with a second-generation version of the iPhone X accompanied by a larger-screened version for those who want to go even bigger.
A new iPad Pro with Face ID is said to be in the works, and this is also the year when Apple's AirPower wireless charging mat will debut. Beyond that, we can expect Mac refreshes, new software, a new Apple Watch, and maybe that new modular Mac Pro.
Below, we've rounded up all of the products we're expecting to see from Apple in 2018 based on both current rumors that we've heard so far and past release information.
HomePod - Early 2018
HomePod is Apple's first Wi-Fi connected smart speaker, designed to compete with existing smart speakers like the Amazon Echo and the Google Home. It was originally meant to debut in December, but Apple delayed its launch to an unspecified date in "early 2018."
With HomePod, Apple focused on sound quality, with a 7 tweeter array, each with its own driver, and a 4-inch upward-facing woofer for crisp, distortion free sound. An A8 chip powers spatial awareness features, allowing the HomePod to analyze a room and then adjust the sound accordingly.
Siri is built into HomePod, and there's integration with Apple Music for Apple Music subscribers. Using a six-microphone array, HomePod can detect Siri commands from anywhere in a room, so Siri can be used to play music, answer queries, and more.
We don't know exactly when HomePod will be released, but it should come out in the first few months of 2018. Apple plans to charge $349 for the speaker.
Apple introduced three iPhones in 2017 -- the iPhone X, the iPhone 8, and the iPhone 8 Plus -- and current rumors suggest we'll also see three new models in 2018.
The first iPhone we're expecting will be a followup to the iPhone X with the same 5.8-inch OLED display. Rumors suggest it will be accompanied by a second OLED iPhone, this one measuring in at 6.5 inches, which means it can be thought of as an "iPhone X Plus."
Alongside these two OLED iPhones, Apple is also said to be planning to introduce a 6.1-inch iPhone with an LCD display, positioned as a more affordable device targeting the low-end and midrange markets with a starting price of $649 to $749 in the United States.
Apple's planned 2018 iPhone lineup, via Ming-Chi Kuo
According to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, all three of these iPhones will feature edge-to-edge displays, Face ID, and TrueDepth camera systems, which means the end of both the Home button and the Touch ID fingerprint sensor in new iPhone models for the time being.
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