Apple aims to debut a new low-cost 5G iPhone and iPad in early March

The announcement will mark Apple’s first major event since a new MacBook Pro debuted in October.

An attendee uses a new iPhone X during a presentation for the media in Beijing, China October 31, 2017. (photo credit: REUTERS/THOMAS PETER)
An attendee uses a new iPhone X during a presentation for the media in Beijing, China October 31, 2017.
(photo credit: REUTERS/THOMAS PETER)

Apple Inc. is targeting a date on or near March 8 to unveil a new low-cost iPhone and an updated iPad, according to people with knowledge of the matter, kicking off a potentially record-setting year for product launches.

The announcement will mark Apple’s first major event since a new MacBook Pro debuted in October. Like the company’s other recent launches, it’s expected to be an online presentation rather than in-person, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are private.

Apple is coming off a holiday quarter that far exceeded Wall Street predictions, helping quell fears that supply-chain problems would hurt sales. Now the company is setting its sights higher for 2022. The March announcements — along with the usual flood of product news expected later in 2022 — suggest Apple will introduce its biggest crop of new devices ever in a single year.

Given that the planned timing is still more than a month away, the company’s plans may change in the face of production delays or other changes, the people said. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment on the company’s plans.

The new phone will be the first update to the iPhone SE model in two years, adding 5G network capabilities, an improved camera and a faster processor. But the design itself is expected to be similar to the current version, which debuted in April 2020.

 Apple Music (credit: FLICKR) Apple Music (credit: FLICKR)

The new iPad, meanwhile, will be an update to the Air model that features a faster processor and 5G. The company is also planning a new Mac with Apple-designed chips, which could also come as early as March. 

In addition to announcing new devices, the company is planning to release iOS 15.4 in the first half of March, the people said. The software update will add Face ID support for people wearing masks to iPhones and iPads, making it easier for users to unlock their devices. It also has new emojis and Universal Control, which lets customers use a single keyboard and trackpad across multiple iPads and Macs. 

Following the March event, the company will likely hold its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June to announce software updates for the iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch. It’s then expected to hold multiple keynote events in the fall to launch the iPhone 14 and new Macs.

The 2022 lineup is likely to include new iMac and Mac Pro desktops, a redesigned MacBook Air, an updated low-end MacBook Pro, three Apple Watches, four iPhone 14 models and new AirPods. The company is also planning new services, such as a feature that lets the iPhone accept payments with the tap of a credit card. 

Apple is working on a high-end mixed reality headset as well, but that’s now more likely to be released in 2023. The company had aimed to announce the device as early as the end of 2022, but development challenges have delayed the timing, Bloomberg reported last month.