What to Expect From Apple's April 20 Event: New iPads, AirTags and More
Apple Event Happening Now
Apple is planning to hold its first event of 2021 on Tuesday, April 20, and it's looking like it will be an iPad-centric event. There are several iPad refreshes rumored to be coming for the iPad Pro, iPad mini, and low-cost iPad.
We may also see the launch of the AirTags, and there are new Macs on the horizon that could be unveiled in April. Below, we've rounded up everything we could possibly see at the April event so you know what to expect when Tuesday rolls around.
Refreshed iPad Pro models are expected to be the main event at Apple's April event. Apple will overhaul the 11 and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models, but don't look for major external changes -- much of what's new will be internal.
There may be some tweaks to the number of speaker holes and their positions, and the camera lenses may protrude less from the camera bump at the back of the tablets. The new iPad Pro models could support Thunderbolt, making them compatible with additional external monitors, hard drives, and peripherals in addition to adding faster data syncing speeds.
The most notable new feature aside from the A14X will be limited to the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, which is expected to gain a mini-LED display. Mini-LED technology offers impressive wide color gamut performance, high contrast and HDR, and local dimming, which dims the backlight behind black areas of the screen while keeping the bright parts lit for blacker blacks and better contrast.
Mini-LED displays are expensive and difficult to manufacture, so for now, the technology is limited to Apple's highest-end iPad Pro. Apple's manufacturing partners are having difficulties with the mini-LED displays, so it's possible the mini-LED 12.9-inch iPad Pro will be available in limited quantities when it launches.
More information on what's expected for the 2021 iPad Pro refresh can be found in our iPad Pro roundup.
Apple Pencil 3
There have been a few rumors about a third-generation Apple Pencil in the works, and it's possible that the next iPad Pro models will be accompanied by a refreshed Apple Pencil.
The third-generation Apple Pencil looks similar to the second-generation version, but with a glossy finish. It's not clear what new features might be included if Apple does refresh the Apple Pencil, but there have been rumors of a potential black model.
We haven't heard particularly reliable rumors about a new Apple Pencil, so it's not really clear if we're going to see one at the April event.
More on what we know about the third-generation Apple Pencil can be found in our roundup.
There's an iPad mini 6 in the works, but don't expect major changes. Recently leaked dummy models suggest the iPad mini 6 will look quite similar to its predecessor with thick bezels and a Touch ID Home button.
It's possible these models are not quite accurate as there have been several rumors suggesting the iPad mini will feature a larger 8.5 to 9-inch display, which would be an upgrade from the current 7.9-inch display and would presumably be implemented through a reduction in bezel size.
Models are often designed for case makers and sometimes it doesn't matter what the front of the device looks like, so it could be that the general sizing is accurate except for the display, which could perhaps feature smaller bezels. It's also possible that there's another more significant update for the iPad mini in the works for the future, but it will come at some point after this more minor refresh.
Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has said that Apple is working on an iPad mini with a mini-LED display, but it doesn't seem like that's a feature that's going to be included with this refresh since it's currently technology rumored only for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro.
Japanese site Mac Otakara said the iPad mini 6 will have an 8.4-inch display with slimmer bezels and a design similar to the iPad Air 3, and that's perhaps the most convincing rumor we've heard because the same design is also rumored for the next low-cost iPad, and right now, the iPad mini 5 and eighth-generation iPad are quite similar.
There were some not so believable rumors that Apple would introduce a "Pro" version of the iPad mini with an 8.7-inch full-screen display and chassis that's wider and shorter, but that rumor doesn't make a lot of sense, especially because it suggests a launch will come in the second half of 2021 rather than the spring launch that we're expecting.
Everything we know about the iPad mini 6 can be found in our dedicated iPad mini roundup.
The low-cost eighth-generation iPad is due for a refresh and while we haven't heard a lot about a new model, it would make sense for it to be updated alongside other iPad models at the April event.
The ninth-generation iPad is expected to continue to be available at the same low price, but it could be updated with a design that resembles the third-generation iPad Air with a 10.5-inch display (up from 10.2-inches) and a thinner and lighter body.
It will continue to feature a Lightning port and a Touch ID Home button, but it will be upgraded to an A13 chip and it may also offer 4GB RAM. More on the low-cost iPad can be found in our iPad roundup.
We've been waiting for Apple's AirTags for what feels like years now, but with Apple's Find My Network Accessory Program now available for third-party product manufacturers, Apple could be ready to finally launch the AirTags. It's possible that to combat any monopoly accusations, Apple wanted to make sure that third-party products had the same access to the Find My app as AirTags, which has now happened.
For those unfamiliar with AirTags, they're small trackers that are equipped with Bluetooth and are designed to attach to important but easily lost items like wallets, cameras, and keys. AirTags (and the items they're attached to) can be tracked right inside the Find My app alongside iPhones, iPads, and Macs, so you can keep an eye on all of your important belongings in one place.
AirTags details have been leaking since the release of iOS 13, but we're still not sure what the AirTags will look like. Based on some simple images found in iOS, they could be small, circular tags with built-in Bluetooth and ultra-wideband support. Ultra-wideband, a feature first introduced in the iPhone 11 lineup, is key because iPhones that have a U1 chip will be able to track AirTags with much more accuracy than Bluetooth alone.
If your keys fall down the couch cushion or your wallet gets kicked under the bed, for example, the iPhone will be able to locate the exact part of the room where they're located. This kind of functionality will make AirTags more accurate and more useful than other Bluetooth trackers on the market.
AirTags might attach to items with rings or adhesive, and the bottle cap-sized trackers are rumored to come with a keychain that has a leather pouch on it, which may be one of the attachment methods.
There have been mixed rumors on charging methods. One rumor has pointed towards a built-in rechargeable battery that works with an Apple Watch-style charging puck, while another suggests the AirTags will run on a replaceable CR2032 battery. Either way, it sounds like they'll last for a good amount of time rather than featuring a non-replaceable battery.
Anything that you lose will show up on the Find My map with an associated address, and when the iPhone is close to a lost item, you might see an augmented reality map with specific positioning that makes it easier to find the missing item. AirTags will also be able to play a sound when triggered in the Find My app.
With iOS 13, Apple introduced a feature that's designed to let Apple products communicate with one another when offline, letting a lost iPhone ping off of someone else's iPhone it comes into contact with even without a cellular or WiFi connection. This function will come to AirTags as well, letting millions of iPhones and Apple devices all around the world track lost items.
For more on what to expect from AirTags, check out our AirTags guide.
The iMac is expected to get a total design overhaul in 2021, with Apple introducing redesigned models with slimmer bezels and a much smaller chin. One of the new iMacs is expected to be around 23 to 24 inches in size and could be a replacement for the 21.5-inch iMac, while the other is expected to be larger than the current 27-inch model.
Rumors suggest that the new iMac models will look similar to the Pro Display XDR monitor that Apple released in 2019, and that display has an iMac like design but with no bottom area and narrower side bezels. There is a possibility that Apple will make the refreshed iMac available in a range of colors like silver, space gray, green, sky blue, and rose gold, which happen to be the colors of the fourth-generation iPad Air.
Alongside of the new design, Apple will introduce updated and much faster Apple silicon chips with as many as 32 high-performance cores and 16 and 32-core GPU graphics options.
We don't know when the new iMacs are coming out, so the April event is a possibility, but it's equally likely we won't see these new machines until the summer or the fall.
Everything we know about the rumored 2021 iMacs can be found in our iMac roundup.
New Spring iPhone Cases and Apple Watch Bands
Product launches often include iPhone cases and Apple Watch bands in new colors, and the spring event will be no exception. We've seen leaked iPhone cases in colors that include Cantaloupe, Amethyst, Pistachio, and Capri Blue, so we're expecting those colors at a minimum, plus we've also seen images featuring cases in sky blue, mustard yellow, and red.
Apple often matches iPhone case colors to Apple Watch bands, so expect to see silicone band options in those same shades.
MagSafe Battery Pack
Apple is designing a MagSafe-compatible battery pack for the iPhone 12, and it's possible that it could be announced or previewed at the April event, though it's definitely not guaranteed or even rumored.
Hints of a battery pack were first found in the iOS 14.5 beta, but Bloomberg says that it's still in development and Apple has heat issues to work out, so it might not be ready to go.
Some of the prototypes that have been tested have featured a white rubber exterior, but beyond that, we don't know what the MagSafe battery pack might look like. It could perhaps be similar to Apple's prior Smart Battery Cases, just without the case portion.
iOS 14.5 Release Date
iOS 14.5 has been in testing since February, and it's the biggest update to the iOS 14 operating system to date. Apple has not yet announced a release date for iOS 14.5, but we're on beta eight and nearing the end of the testing process.
It's possible iOS 14.5 will be released on Apple's event day, but since we haven't had a release candidate yet, it's likely we'll get that finalized version along with an update on when iOS 14.5 will roll out.
iOS 14.5 includes a long list of new features from an option to unlock the iPhone with an Apple Watch while wearing a mask to dual-SIM 5G support, new emoji characters, and crowdsourced accident info in Maps. We have a full list of everything new in iOS 14.5 in our beta features article.
Other Unlikely Possibilities
Apple is working on a new version of the Apple TV 4K, and the refresh is highly anticipated because Apple hasn't updated the Apple TV since 2017.
Rumors suggest a new Apple TV will feature a faster processor, more storage, and a new remote control that integrates with the Find My app. There have been some rumors that Apple is developing a gaming-focused version of the Apple TV that will support console-level games, but it's not clear if that's accurate or if that's planned for the 2021 refresh.
There have been no signs that the Apple TV will be coming in early 2021 or will debut at the April event, so it's likely to be a product that we're not going to see until later in the year. That said, it is a possibility since we have no info on a launch timeline.
More on what to expect from a refreshed Apple TV can be found in our Apple TV roundup.
Apple is working on refreshed MacBook Pro models with a new design and 14- and 16-inch size options. These new MacBook Pro models will feature slimmer bezels and a design with more ports, along with more powerful Apple silicon chips.
We're not expecting the new MacBook Pro models until the second half of 2021 at the earliest, so don't expect to see them in April. More on what's coming to the MacBook Pro lineup can be found in our dedicated MacBook Pro guide.
Earlier this year, there were rumors indicating the AirPods 3 were close to launching and could come at a spring event, but those rumors were inaccurate. Rumors of an early 2021 launch were quashed after Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said that mass production will begin on the AirPods 3 in the third quarter of 2021, indicating a launch much later in the year.
AirPods 3 aren't expected at the April event for that reason, but rumors suggest the earbuds will feature an AirPods Pro-like design but without the Active Noise Cancellation. If you want to know more, we have a full guide on the AirPods 3 rumors.
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