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Apple’s ‘Unleashed’ event on October 18: What to Expect

Earlier this week, Apple announced that it plans to have a special event next Monday, October 18. Perhaps what we’ll hear about at the October 18, 2021 “Unleashed” event isn’t really a surprise. After all, as I said in my preview of the September 14, 2021 “California Streaming” event:

Perhaps I’m a pessimist, but an announcement of new M1 or M1X based Macs doesn’t seem likely. A lot of rumors point to the announcement of 14- and 16-inch M1X-equipped MacBook Pros. As much as I’d like to see (and buy) an M1X MBP, it just seems too “early” to me.

What to expect at Apple’s ‘California Streaming’ Event

Sure enough, that event unveiled the iPhone 13 and Apple Watch Series 7, as well as new additions to the iPad and iPad mini lines. The October event should highlight new MacBook Pro models and could have more surprises in store for Apple fans.

M1X MacBook Pros

16-inch M1X MBP render by Antonio DeRosa
16-inch M1X MacBook Pro concept render by Antonio DeRosa

It is very likely that a pair of MacBook Pros, 14- and 16-inch, are on the event agenda. We’re not exactly sure what the specs of these new MBPs are. However, looking at a variety of conjectures from industry analysts and “leakers” gives a pretty good idea…

  • Apple Silicon M1X system-on-chip with a 10-core CPU. Eight of those cores are high-performance cores, while two are energy-efficient cores.
  • 16- and 32-core GPU options, and support for up to 64GB of unified memory. Base units will come with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage.
  • Two form factors: 14- and 16-inch, with no difference in performance between the two sizes. The displays should rock Mini-LED backlighting with ProMotion (120Hz refresh rate) and resolutions of 3024 x 1964 for the 14-inch model and 3456 x 2234 for the 16-inch. The design should be flatter, much more like an iPhone 13 with square sides. The 14-inch model should have a larger battery than the existing 13-inch MBP, while the 16-inch battery may be smaller.
  • A 1080p webcam to finally improve FaceTime calls from the MacBook Pro.
  • Slimmer bezels and no “MacBook Pro” logotype below the display.

More Ports!

  • More ports! Many analysts expect a pair of Thunderbolt ports and a MagSafe charging port on the left side. The right side should have an HDMI port, one more Thunderbolt port, and an SD-card reader. That’s one less Thunderbolt port than on a current MacBook Pro. On the other hand, functionality is handed off to the HDMI port and SD-card reader.
  • About that MagSafe charging port: it’s the same magnetic design as the old MagSafe charger, but with much faster charging speeds. The AC adapter should shrink in size as well. Some pundits think that the “Unleashed” event nickname could refer to wireless charing like that on the latest iPhones.
  • Like the OLED Touch Bar on current MacBook Pros? You may want to keep your old MBP. The new models will probably do away with the Touch Bar and replace it with full-size function keys instead.

I personally love the speed and size of the current M1-based MacBook Air. On the other hand, I miss the larger screen of the 16-inch MacBook Pro. That’s why I have both right now. I hope the new M1X MacBook Pro lets me consolidate to one Mac for the first time in many years.

3rd-generation AirPods could copy the design of AirPods Pro (image above via Apple)

Third-generation AirPods

I’d expect a new generation of AirPods at the October event. The wireless white earbuds have become as iconic as the wired Apple earphones of an earlier generation.

A number of analysts think that Apple will use the AirPods Pro design, removing the active noise-cancellation technology. The new AirPods could sell at a price point below that of the current AirPods ($159) to make them even attractive to a larger audience of buyers.

The new AirPods could also feature an onboard Neural Engine. What does that mean? The AirPods could handle onboard processing of Siri requests.

Less likely: a 27-inch M1X iMac

A 27-inch (or larger) M1X iMac might be announced. Image of 24-inch iMac via Apple

The 27-inch iMac is a favorite of creatives who don’t need the brute horsepower of a Mac Pro. It shocked me that Apple chose to update the smaller form factor iMac—the 24-inch model—to Apple Silicon first. I don’t expect to see the 27-inch iMac in an Apple Silicon version at this event. I’ve been wrong before…

Any new larger iMac would likely mirror the design cues of the 24-inch model; a totally flat design retaining the Apple-logoed “chin” beneath the display, in a variety of colors. If Apple really wanted to “Think Different”, it would make the front of a big-screen iMac nothing but display.

To differentiate the 27-inch model from its little brother, Apple would need to power the new device with the M1X. I’d expect similar specs for both the iMac and MBP, provided the iMac is actually announced at this event.

Even less likely: An M1X Mac mini

2021 M1X Mac mini concept
2021 M1X Mac mini concept render by Ian Zelbo with Jon Prosser

Here’s a real long shot for an announcement at the “Unleashed” event: an M1X Mac mini. There’s been a lot of wishful thinking about a faster, more powerful, and smaller M1X-powered Mac mini.

Any new Mac mini would most likely be equipped with a totally new chassis design, color options instead of the one-size-fits-all silver case, and more ports. The Mac mini has always been a favorite with PC-to-Mac switchers, as a media server, and as a companion to monster displays.

Me? I’d like to see Apple pack the power of an M1X Mac mini into an Apple TV 4K-sized form factor that could be slapped onto the back of any monitor. It’s probably not likely, but I can dream, can’t I?

How to watch the Unleashed event

Participating in Apple’s event is easy. Just point your browser to at around 10 AM PDT on October 18. Those with an Apple TV can also fire up the Apple Events app at the same time to view the livestream. Oh, and of course, the Apple TV app will be featuring the livestream as well.

Come back to The Rocket Yard after the event for full details on the announcements and why they’re important to Apple fans around the world.

Steve Sande
the authorSteve Sande
Contributing Author
Steve has been writing about Apple products since 1986, starting on a bulletin board system, creating the first of his many Apple-related websites in 1994, joining the staff of The Unofficial Apple Weblog in 2008, and founding Apple World Today in 2015. He’s semi-retired, loves to camp and take photos, and is an FAA-licensed drone pilot.
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  • The MagSafe charging port will not be available in the European Union version. The EU regulators, NOT Apple will be deciding how Apple gadgets get charged. It is their goal to have only one charger per person for charging your various gadgets. Therefore, Apple will make products specifically to satisfy the EU regulators. Moreover, the EU will be banning the inclusion of a charger with devices. Fortunately, buyers in the United States will not have to suffer with these crippled products (so far). Just be careful when buying that you’re not getting an Apple product designed for the European Union.