We're only a few days into 2022, but the rumor mill has already been churning on Apple's upcoming product releases for a few months now. As ever, the mix has three basic ingredients: the inevitable, the quite possible, and the uhhhh maybe?.
Throughout the year, evidence trickles out in the form of corporate whisperings, supply chain links, calculated industry analysis or, best of all, a combination of all there.
We keep our ear to the ground all year long, and here are the main items we're putting in the realm of possibilities for 2022, ranked roughly from most likely to most off-the-wall.
The iPhone 14
Yeah, I mean, it's the iPhone 14. This product release is about a iffy as the month of September itself. The question is what it will be like. The general small-update-big-update pattern of previous suggests the iPhone 14 might sport a considerably different design, with leading features rumored to be a smaller front-screen notch (potentially a hole-punch design?) and the return of Touch ID with through-the-screen fingerprint reading. But, for now, rumors seem to indicate that any truly ground-shattering updates -- like a folding model, or a portless iPhone -- are more than a year away.
Apple Watch Series 8 (and friends)
Another year, another Apple Watch. And probably a relatively major redesign. Ahead of the Series 7 announcement, a good deal of rumors from pretty credible sources pointed to a flat-edged redesign that ultimately and surprisingly didn't pan out in favor of a Series 7 that was...almost unchanged from the Series 6. Did supply chain issues force Apple to abandon a more ambitious redesign and opt for something more subtle? Hard to say, but it seems likely the new, squared off design might show up this year instead. Rumors also point to the possibility of a more rugged, sports-based Apple Watch and a refreshed Apple Watch SE, both of which make plenty of sense.
AirPods Pro 2
Likelihood: Basically inevitable
A new version of Apple's very popular noise-cancelling wireless earbuds is virtually certain, but the question is how much of a change they'll be. Rumors indicate they'll be able to support Apple Music's lossless quality tier (finally correcting the embarrassment that, at the moment, none of Apple's wireless headphones can). This much is practically guarenteed. There are also whisperings that the design may considerably change, with the 'pods losing the lines so-far iconic stems. That remains to be seen, and is probably best considered as a toss up.
A redesigned MacBook Air
Last year saw big updates to the MacBook Pro to make better use of Apple's new homegrown M-series chips, but while the MacBook Air picked up an M1 chip in late 2020, its outside remains unchanged. That means it is very due for a pretty considerable update for a physical design that makes better use of what M1 can provide. Odds are that means "thinner and lighter" with smaller bezels at the very least. That, in addition to the next generation of Apple's M-series chip.
New desktop Macs
Likelihood: Quite possible
Apple's M-series updates haven't been confined to laptops, but there are a few desktop models that haven't been fully updated in the wake of the changeover. 2021 saw the release of an M1-powered iMac, but the advent of Apple's M1 Pro and Pro Max chips will lead to the resurrection of the iMac Pro, which was discontinued in March 2021. It's both an obvious move, and something leaks suggest. The Mac mini, meanwhile, also got the M-series treatment in 2020, but much in the same way as the MacBook Air -- without any external changes. As such, a slimmer, or at least somehow redesigned Mac mini seems likely to be in the cards.
New Apple monitors
Likelihood: Quite possible
For a while now, Apple has leaned on third party suppliers when it comes to external displays. If you were looking for a monitor to use with an Mac mini, for instance, Apple sells LG's UltraFine 5K display. But in 2019, Apple announced its first-party (and very expensive) Pro Display XDR. Now, rumor has it, Apple may be working with LG to expand its display offerings to a suite of three Apple-branded displays. Makes sense!
A portless iPhone?
Likelihood: uhhhh maybe?
The Lightning port is not long for this world. Apple is already leaning hard on the reinvented MagSafe as a new charging alternative. What's more, legal action in the EU looks to soon mandate a USB-C iPhone, so long as iPhones with ports are still for sale in Europe. What's that point to? A port-free iPhone, which has been rumored ever since Apple took heat for removing the 3.5mm headphone jack from the iPhone 7. Is it going to happen? I wouldn't bet my "whole" life, but I would bet a year or two of it, maybe. Is it going to happen this year? Seems unlikely, probably more like 2023.
A folding iPhone?
Likelihood: uhhhhhhhhhhh, maaaaaaaaaaybe.
From the tablet, to the touchscreen phone, to the smart watch, Apple loves to perfect existing-but-wonky technology. What existing-but-wonky technology is in need of perfection? The folding phone. While rumors bubble about a folding iPhone, they aren't particularly well tethered to reality at the moment, and Cupertino fruit company may still yet prefer to consider folding a fad and ignore it until it goes away. We're almost certainly not getting a folding phone this year, but stranger things have happened. But it's hard to keep a secret so big these days, we'll almost certainly hear louder rumblings if a folding iPhone is actually approaching.
Apple AR/VR Glasses
Likelihood: uhhhhh, maybe.
Some sort of high-tech specs are another one of the long-rumored, foregone conclusions about Apple's future product slate, but whatever this product might be still appears to be a few years off. Apple has been playing augmented reality groundwork, look no further than what AirTags and Apple's U1 chip to start see the germ of functional potential. But, in general, this tech is still in its infancy after failures like Google Glass and gimmicks like Snap's Spectacles, and so it seems unlikely Apple will announce this product this year. When it does, don't expect it to hit store shelves immediately. There will likely be a gap between announcement and sale, in part to ensure that developers have sufficient time to toy around with the tech and design apps to make it compelling.
The fabled Apple Car
Likelihood: uh, actually maybe!
We're certainly not getting the Apple Car this year. You won't be driving one off the lot in 2022. But of all the more game-changing products Apple might yet drop, the Apple Car is perhaps the most likely to just fall out of the sky on a random Tuesday. An announcement of it at least. A whole-ass car is essentially impossible to develop in secret, so if Apple is finally (finally!) going down that road after years (years!) of vague rumors, it's likely to kick things off with confirmation a something coming in a few years time. Apple was reportedly in dealings with various car dealers in 2021, so it's not out of the realm of possibilities to turn up in some sort of teaser trailer this year. But I wouldn't bet on it either.