New MacBook and iPad models were at the forefront of the second major Apple hardware reveal of Fall 2018. Just over a month after the announcement of a trio of new iPhones and even the Apple Watch Series 4, Cupertino took to the stage yet again, albeit in New York this time, to showcase new hardware outside of their pocket-sized gadgets.
Taking place at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Apple boss Tim Cook noted that the show was all about Apple’s more creatively-focused hardware.
So, what went down at the October Apple event? With the somewhat problematic 2018 MacBooks still fresh on store shelves, the focus of the latest hardware roundup was on refreshing some of Apple’s long-lost lineups like the Mac Mini and MacBook Air. There was plenty of emphasis on the new Apple iPad Pro, too, but those banking on a refreshed iPad Mini might be disappointed to hear nothing has changed on that front this time around, making the 2015 iPad Mini still without a Pencil-compatible successor. And no, there’s still no sign of that wireless charging dock.
The New iPad Pro
We’re kicking things off with the last product to be revealed during today’s Apple hardware showcase; the new iPad Pro. Unlike a few other instances, “new” isn’t part of the product name this time around, with this fresh iPad Pro lineup replacing the last-gen 10.5 and 12.9 inch iPad Pro variants. Both still feature gorgeously smooth and color-accurate 120Hz displays, but Apple’s advancements in edge-to-edge screen tech means the 10.5 inch iPad Pro now sports an 11-inch screen in the same body, while the 12.9-inch display iPad retains the same screen size in a much slimmer package than before.
As for specs, the 2018 iPad Pro lineup feature an all-new A12X Bionic chip that’s a step above the A12 chip found in the iPhone XS devices released just last month. Even going so far as to name (and image) drop the Xbox One S as a device the iPad can go graphically toe-to-toe with now, the gaming potential of the new iPad Pro was highlighted with a stage demo of a 2K NBA title and Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Rebellion. Apple’s usually lingo states that it’s faster than 92% of portable PCs bought over the last year, with 35% more single-core and 90% better multicore performance over last year’s iPad Pro models. Full-fledged Photoshop was shown barely breaking a sweat when working on a 3GB 12K-resolution image.
As rumored, these new devices ditch the Home button, meaning the iPad Pro line-up is now entirely dependant on Touch and Gesture to navigate. Perhaps even more importantly is the shift away from the Lightning port, making room for Thunderbolt-enabled USB-C connector allowing the 2018 iPad Pro to can connect seamlessly to cameras, phones, and even 5K displays with a single cable, ridding the need for things like the Camera Connector Kit. Supporting power out, you can even charge your struggling iPhone to your iPad for some extra juice.
Flaunted as the more versatile iPad yet, these new devices even feature more magnets in their body than even before, meaning you can hook up fancy folio keyboards and even dock and charge the new Apple Pencil on the side of the device.
The new iPad Pro starts at $799 and ships November 7. A 1TB model is also available.
Apple Pencil (2nd Gen)
A new iPad connector means a new Apple Pencil is needed. After all, you’ll struggle to attach the old plastic Apple Pencil to the new iPad Pro without any magnets or Lightning connector.
There isn’t a whole lot more to the 2nd Gen Apple Pencil, but the handy tool now features customizable gesture inputs managed with a double tap on the side of the tip. This was shown during the presentation to quickly zoom in and out of a Photoshop image, but will serve different functions in different apps.
The main change for the 2nd Gen Apple Pencil, however, comes from its design. Ridding itself of the meme-worthy changing method of the previous iteration, the new Apple Pencil pairs and charges wirelessly by magnetically snapping to the side of a compatible iPad Pro. Without any charging port to speak of, that means no more lost caps.
Apple Pencil Gen 2 launches November 7 for $129. You can even have it engraved (for free) if that’s your thing.
New MacBook Air
The return of the MacBook Air clawed back memories of Steve Jobs pulling the original device from an envelope on stage back in 2008, something Apple used in its marketing material in things like TV spots during the device’s heyday.
The 2018 MacBook Air is the first the feature Apple’s signature Retina display, making it the cheapest Retina-equipped Macbook the company offers right now. Totting 4 million pixels for a 2560 x 1600 resolution, it’s uncontested in the space of sharpest MacBook Air to date with 48% better color reproduction in the original 13.3 inch formfactor, with 50% smaller framing around the screen for a wider-looking display.
Touch ID makes an appearance and is built into the top-right side of the keyboard, with Apple’s T2 security chip allowing for Hey Siri support as well. IO includes two thunderbolt 3 ports capable of driving 5K displays, running e-GPUs, and typical data/power transfer tasks USB-C is built around.
Sticking to the idea of an all-flash memory idea, it appears everything in the new MacBook Air is soldered to the board, meaning the build options you make when purchasing the MacBook Air is a decision you’ll have to live with throughout the lifespan of the device. Luckily, these are pretty top-spec machines, featuring 8th Gen Intel processors like the i3 and i7, with support for up to 16GB of 2133Mhz memory and a maximum SSD size of 1.5TB built right onto the board. Returning to the idea of an all-day battery, the new MacBook Air is said to manage around 12 hours of browsing the web, or 13 hours of iTunes video.
Input-wise, the new MacBook Air features a backlit 3rd Gen Butterfly keyboard said to offer 4X key stability over the original design. Apple’s popular trackpad solution is now 20% larger and features pressure-sensitive force touch. The whole thing is around 17% smaller than the last MacBook Air to boot.
The new MacBook Air ships November 7 with a $1199 starting price. Pre-orders are open now.
New Mac Mini
For the first time since 2012, the Mac Mini makes its return. Designed as the Mac for those who like to choose their own peripherals, the Mac Mini remains a desk-friendly MacOS machine with plenty of power under the hood.
Unlike previous Mac Mini iterations, all 2018 Mac Mini desktops will offer 4 or 6-Core 8th Gen Intel CPUs and should benefit from the improvements in Intel’s own built-in graphics tech.
There’s no AMD GPUs hidden in any of these new Mac Minis, but 4x Thunderbolt USB-C ports will allow for the option of hooking up E-GPUs to ofset any heavier workloads. Memory has been swapped over to SO-DIMM sticks, suggesting the Mac Mini will retain user upgradability to a point, with support for up to 64GBs of memory clocked at 2666MHz, with support for up to a 2TB SSD. As you might expect, the Apple T2 security chip is tossed in there, too.
The base model starts at $799 and ships November 7, with i3 and i5 variants available. You can even swap out the default gigabit Ethernet for a 10 gigabit connection.