Apple Inc.’s last product unveiling of the year kicks off on Monday, when the company is set to update a device that’s coming up on its 40th anniversary: the Mac.
The event will take place at 5 p.m. California time. That’s an unusual hour for an Apple launch and the timing on Halloween eve is likely meant to fit the spooky theme, dubbed “Scary Fast.” In another twist, the company isn’t holding an in-person gathering at its headquarters in Cupertino, California, making it an online-only affair.
Apple hasn’t said what it will reveal at the event – beyond showing a Mac software icon in the invite – but Bloomberg has reported that the company is preparing fresh MacBook Pro laptops and iMac desktops. The machines probably won’t have a radical new look, but will likely include Apple’s first M3 3-nanometer processors. Those chips are expected to be a significant improvement over the M2 line, which was first rolled out in June 2022.
The new models come at a critical moment for Apple. The personal computing market is finally pulling out of a post-pandemic slump, and new competitors are looking to push into the industry. That includes Nvidia Corp., which is developing its own PC processors, Bloomberg reported this week. Qualcomm Inc., best known for smartphone chips, also is making a play for the PC market.
Apple is looking to new products to help drive a resurgence during its all-important holiday period. It’s coming off several quarters of declining sales. The company will reveal its latest financial results three days after the event, on Nov. 2.
An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.
Apple has already unveiled several new Macs this year. In January, it rolled out MacBook Pros with M2 Pro and M2 Max chips, in addition to a Mac mini. In June, Apple released its first 15-inch MacBook Air and faster Mac Studio models, as well as its first Mac Pro that uses the company’s home-grown chips – known as Apple Silicon.
While the Mac is no longer at the center of Apple’s business, it’s still a key moneymaker. The division represents about 10% of annual sales, making it bigger than the iPad and around the same size as Apple’s wearables lineup. Wall Street estimates that the Mac will bring in just under $8.1 billion in the holiday quarter, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That would be up from last year, but down considerably from the same period two years ago – when the home office boom was still fueling sales.
Here is everything that can be expected on Monday:
• High-end MacBook Pros codenamed J514 and J516. The machines will look nearly identical to current models, but will probably include speedier new M3 Pro and M3 Max processors.
• The company has been testing multiple different versions of the M3 Pro processor. One baseline version in the works has 12 main processor cores, made up of six high-performance blocks and six high-efficiency cores. Generally speaking, the more cores you have, the more powerful the chip. The product also has 18 cores for processing graphics. That would be an increase of two main processing cores – known as CPU cores – and two graphics cores over the current model. Another M3 Pro chip seen in testing by developers has 14 main processing cores, including 10 for high performance and four for efficiency, and 30 graphics cores.
• There are multiple versions of the M3 Max in testing, including a top-end version with 16 main processing cores – 12 for high performance and four for efficiency – and 40 graphics cores.
• Apple has also tested updated configurations for memory, or RAM, including new 24-gigabyte and 48-gigabyte options.
• While it’s unclear which chip configurations will ultimately ship, the components are likely to include improved gaming capabilities – similar to the iPhone 15 Pro’s A17 chip.
• An updated iMac for the first time in more than 900 days – an unusually long stretch. But don’t expect a bold new design. Like the MacBook Pros, the iMacs will look nearly identical to the existing versions. The current iMac design was announced in April 2021 when the company shifted to the M1 chip.
• The new 24-inch iMac – codenamed J433 and J434 – includes internal design changes and a revamped stand. The company has tested the machine in similar colors as the current models, but Apple could still change up the options at the unveiling.
• Apple developed this new iMac with the M3 chip. In testing, the company has used versions with the same number of main processing cores as the M2: four for high performance and four for efficiency. But it has tried new graphics configurations, including a chip with 10 graphics cores.
• As part of a broader shift to USB-C connectors, the company will likely roll out updated versions of accessories – including its trackpad, mouse and keyboard – that ditch the old Lightning ports.
• This year also marks the 25th anniversary of the iMac, which was one of the first products Steve Jobs introduced after returning to Apple in the late 1990s. The very first Mac, then called the Macintosh, debuted in early 1984.
• While the company has been working on a low-end MacBook Pro codenamed J504 with a base version of the M3 chip, that machine likely won’t appear Monday.
• New 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Airs with M3 chips – codenamed J613 and J615 – are also in development, but those aren’t scheduled for release until the first half of 2024.
• Though Apple typically introduces updated iPads around the same time as Macs, the company isn’t planning to debut new tablets until the spring. It’s working on an iPad Pro with an M3 chip, in addition to refreshed versions of the iPad Air, iPad mini and entry-level iPad. The company also announced a cheaper Apple Pencil earlier this month.
• AirPods won’t be updated again until next year. The company is working on new low-end models and AirPods Max headphones for late 2024. The AirPods Pro will get updated in 2025.