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Apple 'Let's take a field trip' education event set for Chicago, March 27

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All the rumors and speculation about an Apple March Event for 2018, including updated iPads, a new iPhone SE, new colors for iPhone X, new Apple Watch bands, AirPower, and more!

In March of 2011, Steve Jobs took to the keynote stage to introduce the iPad 2 and to tell us technology alone was not enough. That was the beginning of the modern Apple spring event. In 2012, it saw the introduction of the Retina iPad (iPad 3) and the 1080p version of the Apple TV. Then, in 2013… nothing. In 2014… nothing again. It wasn’t until 2015 that Apple held another March event, and that year brought the final Apple Watch introduction and the all-new MacBook. In 2016 we got iPhone SE and the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. Then, 2017, nothing again.

Now, in 2018, it’s back on! In… Chicago!

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When will Apple’s 2018 March Event take place?

Tuesday, March 27, 2018. That continues Apple’s pattern of holding spring events later and later in March.

  • 2016: March 21
  • 2015: March 9
  • 2012: March 7
  • 2011: March 2

Where would Apple’s 2018 March Event be held?

The Steve Jobs Theater at Apple Park, you’d think? But no: It’s being held in Chicago this time.

Does an education event mean we won’t see new iPhones, iPads, or Macs?

Hard to say. We could get there and see new Books (formerly, iBooks) and new Classroom for iPad software. And that’s it. Or we could see the next version of the less expensive 9.7-inch iPad to go with it, and maybe the new, updated MacBook Air for students.

Nothing is official until Apple announces it, so let’s just cover all the bases.

Will there be a new iPhone SE 2?

Apple typically unleashes new iPhones in September but in 2016 we got an everything-old-is-new-again rebirth of the 4-inch screen size with iPhone SE. Could Apple be readying a repeat?

The existing iPhone SE is an iPhone 6s in iPhone 5s clothes. Apple might replace it in the less expensive lineup with an iPhone 9 this spring, but what about in the much smaller lineup? With next-generation iPhones rumored to go Plus again, it would be nice to have something that’s still on the small side as well.

An iPhone SE 2, so to speak.

More on iPhone SE 2

What about a Product RED iPhone X?

While we didn’t get a March Event in 2017, we did get a Product RED iPhone 7. And it was stunning. New colors are often as exciting for customers as new designs — we’ve seen that with gold and rose gold in the past.

Competitors are launching new flagship-ish phones this spring and a great way for Apple to grab back some of that attention is new iPhone colors. Not only does Product RED fit that bill, it provides funding to an incredibly worthy cause.

Whether we’d see anything other than potential gold or red iPhones X — purple or blue, anyone? — or any new colors at all are questions I’m incredibly excited to see answered.

More iPhone 9 / iPhone XI rumors

And new iPads Pro?

Apple updated the 12.9-inch iPad Pro and introduced the 10.5-inch iPad Pro back in June. That’s only 9 months ago for a product that typically enjoys a 12-18 month refresh rate.

But Apple silicon – in this case, the September-launched A11 bionic — waits on no refresh rate, and the idea of iPads Pro getting MacBook Pro-style spec bumps is appealing. (Even if it causes grumbles from those who just bought the previous model.)

Arguably, the bigger advances awaiting iPads Pro are OLED displays, TrueDepth cameras, and Face ID.

Given OLED constraints and Apple’s desire to push the display technology to two new iPhones this year, it seems extremely unlikely for iPad. Whether Apple can produce enough TrueDepth modules or tries to push LED edge-to-edge, we’ll have to wait and see.

More iPad Pro 3 rumors

What about a new, cheap 9.7-inch iPad and… a new iPad mini?

Another example of Apple launching new products even when it doesn’t hold events, 2017 saw a new, less-expensive iPad. Roughly analogous to an iPad Air 1.5 with updated processors, it was targeted at people who still had iPad 2 or other, older, devices.

So the questions becomes: Does Apple keep that model around and push prices down even lower — into cheap video tablet ranges — or keep the price the same and bump up the specs?

iPad mini is an even harder knot to cut. Steve Jobs never wanted a small tablet. Eddy Cue convinced him of its value. And it worked… for a while. But when iPhone went big and bigger, the iPhone Plus cut into the iPad minus.

Now, with rumors of an even bigger iPhone on the horizon, is there any space left at all for an iPad mini or 7.9-inch iPad Pro?

As someone who’d love a big phone or tiny tablet with Apple Pencil support, I just hope Apple offers one of those products by year’s end.

Watch bands… but no Watches?

Apple Watch Series 3 debuted just six months ago, so it’s way early for series 4. Could new case colors be in the works? Jet black might not be durable enough for something worn on your wrist, but product RED? Metallic blue? There are still lots of options to explore if Apple chooses to.

It’s also never too early for new Watch bands. Since the launch in spring of 2015, Apple has shown off new, seasonal Watch bands every six months like — wait for it! — clockwork.

New colors seem like a lock at this point. I’d like to see the Hermès back in stock but beyond that, I’d love to see more colors for the Nike-style bands, and in additional colors like bright orange, hot pink, neon blue, and more. It’s a great style and not being able to expand it with more bands is a shame right now. I’d also like to see the current Hermès straps go on sale separately.

There are also a few styles of watch band Apple hasn’t offered yet and the possibility of additional fashion partnerships…

More on Apple Watch

What about new Macs?

Quick and dirty Photoshop of what an edge-to-edge, Face ID 💻 with 🤘 could look like. (And I want it.) #macbookpro #mockup #fake

A post shared by Rene Ritchie (@reneritchie) on Feb 27, 2018 at 6:20pm PST

Apple announced the 12-inch MacBook at the March event in 2015 and updated in in 2016. The 2017 updates showed up at WWDC in June along with updated MacBooks Pro and iMacs. In December, we got iMac Pro.

All of them are now on Kaby Lake (with the exception of iMac Pro, which is on Skylake, because Xeon W.) Is Coffee Lake ready for the Mac? Intel has been struggling with the last few die shrinks and architecture changes — so much so the company has delayed and divided its roadmap numerous times. Apple needs very specific chips and time for deep integrations, so we’ll have to wait and see.

Same with a redesign. I’d love Face ID on the Mac even more than I would iPad. With T1 and T2 chips, everything is there assuming the TrueDepth camera modules are available in sufficient quantity and yield rates. And if it comes with an edge-to-edge display like in the mockup above — take my money.

But it’s a huge if, especially for March.

More on MacBook rumors

AirPower and AirPods 2?

Apple teased AirPower inductive charging pads and inductive charging cases for AirPods back in September of 2017. It would be odd to rehash them rather than launch them, but if they’re ready and there’s at least a slide’s worth of new information to talk about, why not?

There are rumors of water-resistance and Hey, Siri-capable AirPods 2, and even AirPods-style, high-end, over-the-ear headphones as well. It might be too early for those, though.

What about the software?

We’ve got the betas for iOS 11.3 and the rest, so all the small new features coming this spring are already out there. If there’s anything specific to the new hardware or services, we’ll hear about it.

What do you want to see?

What do you most want to see from Apple in spring 2018? Let me know in the comments below!

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