Apple Spring Loaded event preview — iPad Pro 2021, new iMac and a lot more

Apple Event April 20
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Apple April Event: Possible New Products

iPad Pro 2021: 11-inch and 12.9-inch with mini-LED display
Apple AirTags: New product finder that uses UWB and AR
iMac 2021: Apple Silicon, slimmer bezels and 5 new colors
AirPods 3: Noise cancelling and AirPods Pro-like design
Apple TV 2021: More power, new remote, 120Hz support

The Apple Spring Loaded event is almost here, and could give us our first look at the iPad Pro 2021, AirTags and even a new iMac. The AirPods 3, the Apple Pencil 3, the iPad mini 6 and a new Apple TV box are all rumored to appear, too.

Even if not all of these new Apple products make it onto the bill, it’s sure to be a big night of announcements. Judging from leaks, the iPad Pro 2021 and AirTags seem to be the most likely stars, so be follow along with our Apple event live blog as we learn what's in store.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Apple Spring Loaded event, from start times and stream details to more on the products you can expect to see.

Apple April event date and time

The Apple "Spring Loaded" event takes place on April 20, at 10 a.m. PDT / 1 p.m. EDT. 

iPad Pro 2021: mini-LED display, faster chip

Apple april event: iPad Pro

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The iPad Pro 2021 seems almost a dead certainty for Apple’s April event, with a bevy of leaks already giving us some idea of what the newest model of Apple’s tablet will look like. 

MacOtakara reports that the “housing design will be unchanged” though we wouldn’t be surprised to see thinner bezels, fewer speaker holes, and a camera bump that protrudes slightly less. 

Rumors suggest that the new iPad Pro will come in an 11-inch and a 12.9-inch model. Apple may also be gearing up to switch out its currenct LCD display technology for mini-LED screens, which should result in a wider contrast ratio and deeper blacks. This is seemingly backed up by the most recent leak that indicates the iPad Pro 2021 will be thicker, in order to accomodate the mini-LED tech.

An internal component bump is practically a given, as is 5G support, and if Mark Gurman is to be believed the tablet will pack a processor on “on par” with the M1 chip most recently released in the latest MacBooks.

A refreshed magic keyboard is  reportedly in the works too, and this could well debut alongside the new iPad Pro.  Analyst Daniel Ives has even predicted a new mainstream iPad launching alongside the iPad Pro and iPad mini 6, though we haven't heard anything else corroborating this.

AirTags: Track your lost things in AR

Apple april event: airtags

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It feels like we’ve been reporting on AirTags for years at this point, but surely this Apple April event has to be when Apple finally gives us some official details on the long-in-development accessory. 

Trackers designed to compete with the likes of Tile Mate, AirTags will make use of Bluetooth and Ultra-Wideband technology, plus the Find My app, in order to help users hunt down misplaced gadgets. We’d be very surprised if AirTags don’t make an appearance at the Apple April event, especially since accessory straps for the AirTags have leaked too.

These trackers should retail for less than $50 apiece and could be a lifesaver for IOS users who are prone to losing more than just their phone or tablet. 

AirTags have been indirectly referenced in iOS 14.5, so they’re certainly on the horizon. Now definitely feels like the time when we’ll finally get a proper look at them. 

iMac 2021: Sleeker design, more power

Apple april event: iMac 2021 leak

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While Apple confirmed it is it is discontinuing the iMac Pro, it's turning its efforts to a new iMac 2021 that will run on Apple Silicon chip (and also sport a new design). 

It’s been a while since Apple significantly updated the iMac, so it seems likely that 2021 will finally be the year that the company gives one of its flagship products a thorough refresh. 

The current design of the iMac has been with us for over nearly a decade, but we’re expecting that the iconic “chin” of the all-in-one computer may finally bite the dust this year. 

Rumors hint that the design will be something akin to the Pro Display XDR, at a much more palatable price. We've also heard that the new iMac 2021 could come in five colors, similar to the recent iPad Air. 

Apple’s move to mini-LED on the iMac looks likely as well, which would result in much better image quality on the display. And further leaks have hinted that the iMac 2021 will come with Cupertino’s first desktop-class Apple Silicon chip.

AirPods 3: AirPods Pro perks

Apple april event: AirPods 3 leak design

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Apple’s wireless earbuds have been a runaway success since debuting in 2016, and the latest iteration of the popular buds, AirPods 3, look set to launch in 2021.  

Reports are indicating that AirPods 3 will ditch the traditional design, and opt for something much closer to the look of the AirPods Pro. 

The refreshed earbuds are also rumored to be pinching active noise canceling from the Pro model, alongside Dolby Atmos support and spatial audio. But we'll have to wait and see on that.

Originally slated for a 2020 release, AirPods 3 now seem likely to launch in the first half of 2021 according to South Korean site The Elec, which would make an unveiling at Apple’s April event pretty likely. 

A shiny new design, as well as new features, don't come cheap however and rumors are suggesting that the price of AirPods 3 will rise to $199. That would be a sizeable increase from the $159 price point that was standard for the earbuds previously.  

One aspect of the AirPods we’d like to see addressed is the poor battery life. Currently, AirPods offer 5 hours on a single charge, which is pretty poor when stacked up against the likes of the Sony WF-1000XM3 and Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus

Apple TV 2021: New remote, performance boost 

Apple april event: apple tv

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The Apple TV streaming box is another device that could see an update at the Apple April event.

The big change we're expecting is new internal hardware, namely a new A-series chipset, to make navigating tvOS snappier than ever before while also boosting Apple Arcade gameplay. We're also hoping that the rumors of a new, easier to use Apple TV remote control will come true since it's one of the Apple TV's weak points.

iPad Mini 2021: New design?

Apple april event: iPad mini

(Image credit: Future)

The iPad Pro may not be the only iteration of Apple’s tablet getting a refresh in 2021; the new iPad Mini 6 could be on the way. The iPad mini hasn’t been updated since 2019, so it’s certainly due. 

Reputable leaker Ming-Chi Kuo claimed last May that a new iPad Mini was set to be released in 2021, with MacOtakara corroborating this report in January this year. 

Not so mini anymore, the latest model is expected to sport an 8.4-inch screen which would be a substantial increase over the iPad Mini 5’s 7.9-inch screen. Touch ID and lightning charging are likely to be retained

All info points to the new iPad Mini being an evolution rather than a revolution. Rumors that it will mimic the design of the iPad Pro with slimmer bezels and no home button seem like wishful thinking to us. 

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.