Apple surprised many fans on Wednesday with the unexpected announcement of the 2020 iPad Pro models and a new MacBook Air, along with new accessories and an update to the Mac mini.
2020 iPad Pro and Magic Keyboard
The flagship Apple tablet, the iPad Pro, received a tremendous speed boost, and new capabilities turn it into what Apple describes as “faster and more powerful than most Windows PC laptops.”
The improved iPad Pro, available in both 11- and 12.9-inch sizes, is powered by a new A12Z Bionic chip with eight-core GPU, enhanced thermal architecture, and tuned performance controllers. In addition to the fast processor, the new iPad Pro has ten hours of battery life, faster Wi-Fi 6, and gigabit-class LTE that’s touted as 60 percent faster than the previous generation.
The screen is an edge-to-edge Liquid Retina display featuring ProMotion technology, but now has five studio-quality microphones built-in as well as four speakers that adjust based on the tablet’s orientation.
With the new iPad Pro comes a new camera system with two cameras — a 12MP Wide camera as well as a 10MP Ultra-Wide camera. The latter can zoom out two times to capture a much wider field of view. To handle the dual cameras, the iPad Pro has a square-shaped lens bump similar to that on the iPhone 11 Pro series.
The camera goodies also include a LiDAR Scanner that measures the distance to objects up to 5 meters away, designed to let the new tablets enable advanced augmented reality experiences.
All of the new iPad Pro models come with 6GB of RAM. In the 2018 versions, only the higher-capacity models with 1TB of storage came with 6GB of RAM, with all other models being left at 4GB. Now, 6GB of RAM is standard across the board.
The Wi-Fi 6 and gigabit LTE support come via the U1 Ultra-Wideband chip, which was first used in the iPhone 11 series. Some websites note that the U1 is not listed in Apple tech specs, so the features may be enabled at a later date through a firmware update.
Apple appears to be further blurring the lines between the low-end MacBook Air and the iPad Pro by adding trackpad support to iPadOS 13.4 and introducing the new Magic Keyboard. The keyboard attaches magnetically to the iPad Pro and has a new floating design that works great both on a desk or in a lap. With cantilevered hinges that allow adjustment of the viewing angle up to 130 degrees, the Magic Keyboard is a full-size keyboard with backlit keys and Apple’s popular scissor key mechanism.
By the way, if you own one of the older 2018 iPad Pro models, the new Magic Keyboard works seamlessly with it.
The new iPad Pro is available online today at apple.com, and should be in Apple stores next week. The 11-inch iPad Pro sells for $799 with a 128GB Wi-Fi configuration, while the 12.9-inch starts at $999. Storage is configurable to 256GB, 512GB and 1TB, and cellular options are also available.
The Magic Keyboard is expected to be available in May in two versions: a $299 11-inch version and a $349 version for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. For those who would rather use a finger or a mouse than a trackpad, new Smart Keyboard Folio accessories priced at $179 (11-inch) and $199 (12.9-inch) are also available.
2020 MacBook Air
Of course, many Apple fans still don’t consider the iPad Pro to be a laptop replacement. For those who don’t want to spend the money on the pricey, yet powerful MacBook Pro, Apple has made some impressive changes to the MacBook Air.
As you’d expect from an updated MacBook Air, the new devices have faster processors and graphics, and the scissor-switch Magic Keyboard. They also have a lower starting price of $999.
The MacBook Air now uses Intel’s 10th-generation Core processors with up to a 1.2GHz quad-core Core i7 with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.8GHz. Apple says this produces up to twice the performance of the previous generation of MacBook Pro. Intel Iris Plus Graphics are built in, delivering up to 80 percent faster graphics performance.
The Magic Keyboard uses the same redesigned scissor mechanism that is found on the MacBook Pro. With 256GB of storage, the new MacBook Air starts at $999 (down $100 from the 2019 base model with only 128GB of storage). Education pricing starting at $899 is available to current or newly accepted college students and their parents, as well as faculty, staff, and homeschool teachers at all grade levels.
Oddly enough, the bargain-priced MacBook Air supports external displays of up to 6K resolution, including the $4,999 to $5,999 Pro Display XDR.
Ordering begins today on Apple.com or the Apple Store app.
2020 Mac mini
Apple also updated the Mac mini configurations to double their storage capacity. The $799 model now comes with 256GB of PCIe-based SSD storage, while the $1,099 version comes with 512GB of SSD storage as standard.
The new Mac minis are available on apple.com and will ship within one business day.
Spring Color Options for Accessories
Spring has officially sprung, and Apple is getting into the swing of things with new accessory colors.
The iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Mac silicone cases now have new color options, including Cactus (green), Grapefruit (light orange), and Surf Blue. Those same three colors are available in Apple Watch Sport Bands as well, for those who want to keep their accessories in sync. The Leather Folio for iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max is now available in Peacock, which is a slightly darker shade of green than Cactus.
We won’t go into detail on the other new Watch bands available in Sport Bands, Sports Loop, Nike Sports Bands and Sports Loops, and even Hermès styles.
The Smart Folio for iPad Pro in both 11- and 12.9-inch sizes is also available in Cactus and Surf Blue. Likewise, the same colors are featured on the Smart Cover for iPad (7th generation), iPad Air (3rd generation), and iPad mini.