Given Apple's longer cycles for iPhone redesigns, I don't expect
a revolutionary new iPhone to spur sales ever higher. But Apple
will tinker around the edges, while spending time upgrading the
iPad and launching new products the likes of which we've not seen
before… from Apple, anyway.
These are my predictions for 2022 for the iPhone, iPad, and the
rest of Apple's non-Mac product line. I'm doing this with the risk
of being dead wrong in public, but I've been there before and what
doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
iPhone gets tweaks
around the margins
The iPhone of 2023 will probably look dramatically different
from what we've got today, but 2022 will probably not bring much
change to the look we're used to. However, if reports are accurate,
Apple will change its offering a bit.
First, the iPhone SE is due for a refresh. Nobody gets excited
about the iPhone SE, but it's important for Apple to create an
iPhone with an entry price that's more palatable in some markets
and with some users. And it allows Apple to use older technology
that it's already perfected and keep it around a little longer. I
expect a new iPhone SE to look more or less like the current model–l
ike the iPhone 8, in other words–but with a modern A15 processor
and an edge-to-edge display with Touch ID embedded in the sleep
button, like on the iPad Air and iPad mini.
The iPhone 14 will
probably do away with the mini model once and for all. Image: IDG
Meanwhile, as a fan of the iPhone mini, it does not make me
happy to relay reports that Apple's responded to poor sales by
replacing it in the price list. I believe the iPhone mini size will
return in some form, perhaps on an occasional basis, but I can
understand Apple's desire to see if a different mix of size and
feature options might end up selling better. So I'll sign on to the
idea that the fall's four iPhone models will be an iPhone 14,
iPhone 14 Pro, iPhone 14 Pro Max–and a new iPhone 14 Max that
brings a bigger screen to Apple's lower-priced phone line.
I'll also predict that the lower-priced iPhone 14 models still
won't support the ProMotion display introduced on the iPhone 13
Pro. I'm sure Apple wants to put ProMotion everywhere, but making
the non-Pro line of phones wait another year? It seems like an easy
way to tempt people to upgrade to the Pro.
Beyond that, I expect that all these iPhones will get the usual
assortment of mid-cycle upgrade features–better cameras, faster A16
processor, all that stuff. The iPhone 15 will probably blow our
minds, but that's not a 2022 thing.
iPad features get a boost
Mid-year, Apple will probably ship an M2 chip inside a new
MacBook Air. So I'll predict that by fall, we'll see new M2-based
iPad Pro models, with the smaller one finally getting its upgrade
to a high-dynamic-range mini-LED backlit display.
I always make predictions that I want to happen and
then regret them later, but I'm going to do it here: Not only will
Apple ship a standalone external display that's much more
affordable than the Pro Display XDR, but that display will also be
supported by an iPadOS update (probably iPadOS 16) that supports an
independent external display. To do this, Apple will need to reinvent windowing for the iPad, but
with support for external keyboards and pointing devices already
baked in, and a whole new set of multitasking conventions
introduced in iPadOS 15, it's most of the way there. This is
happening, people! As soon as Apple ships a proper external
The productivity-focused world has recently fallen in love with
note-taking apps that let you quickly link across different notes
and build a knowledge web on your devices. One of the major
features of iOS 16 will be a new version of Notes that allows
cross-linking. It will frustrate everyone who has ever used Roam
Research or Craft or Obsidian, but people who just use Apple Notes
might think it's pretty cool.
And proving my consistency in the face of all evidence to the
contrary, I'll wager that 2022 is the year where Apple actually
releases one of its pro apps for the iPad. My money is on Final Cut
Pro, but Logic might be there too. They'll look great hooked up to
that external display Apple's making. Right?
New product categories
Finally, let me predict a couple of new products that are in
categories Apple hasn't ever entered before.
I believe Apple will introduce a new piece of home-focused
hardware in 2022. Most likely, it'll be a HomePod with a display
and camera. It'll support Siri, run widgets (and maybe AppleTV
apps?), and will offer full FaceTime video support with dynamic
panning and zooming via the Center Stage feature currently
available on the iPad Air and iPad mini.
I'd like to believe that Apple has a new Apple TV product up its
sleeve, one that combines TV, audio, Center Stage, and home
automation to create an awesome sound bar that's also an Apple TV. I
really, really do think this product could be great. I hope it
exists. But I'll believe it when it appears, and not a moment
The other big new Apple product of 2022: augmented reality
glasses. Yes, I think they're finally going to happen–but you'd be
wise to curb your enthusiasm. They'll look a lot like Meta's Quest
headset, but they'll offer a massive amount of processing power,
great displays, and a very large price tag. I believe the first
Apple headset will be positioned as more of a technology
exploration–for developers and early adopters to pave the way to
the future–and Apple will heavily evangelize AR applications at
WWDC, especially to game developers.
And with that prediction comes the next, even easier one: a
bunch of people will write about how Apple's AR glasses are
disappointing, and a flop, and a disaster. The Macalope will write
many columns pointing out the fallacies therein. And in 2023, Apple
will come out with an AR product that improves on the first one, a
year of development will have created some great AR apps from
clever iOS developers, and the success of Apple's AR product line
will have seemed obvious all along.
Okay, maybe that won't happen. It will probably be until 2024 or
2025 before Apple gets anywhere near where it wants to be with AR.
But that's Apple for you. It starts down a path and then it
ruthlessly iterates on its products until it gets where it wants to
go. For augmented-reality glasses, 2022 is the year Apple steps on
the path and starts its journey.