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Apple Spring 2021 event preview — New iPad Pro, AirPods Pro 2 and more

apple event 2021
(Image credit: BRITTANY HOSEA-SMALL / Getty Images)

If you're after a new iPad, pair of new AirPods or a new iMac then be prepared to tune into Apple's Spring 2021 event. We're expecting big things in these categories to be announced in March.

This will likely be the company's first big launch of the year, and it's when we're expecting the reveal of a new iPad Pro, AirPods 3, and AirPods Pro 2. 

Apple hasn't confirmed if there will be a March event, but given the precedent set by previous years, it seems very likely that there will be. So here are all the products we think Apple might announce at the event.

Apple Spring 2021 event preview: When is it?

Looking at previous years, we see that Apple often drops a bunch of product announcements around March each year. For example, last year and in 2019 there was an announcement on March 18, and in 2018 the event was on March 27.

It's not been officially confirmed yet, but that's not unusual since Apple only gives a week or two's notice before its launch events. Even if Apple just does a press release instead of a live event — as it did last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic — it would be unusual if there wasn't any news out of Cupertino next month.

Apple Spring 2021 event: What to expect

The two main things we expect to see Apple reveal at its Spring 2021 event are new iPad and AirPods models, both Pro and standard versions. We are also expecting to see the Apple Silicon-powered iMac 2021 with a take on the Apple M1 chip.

Hopefully, some details on the Apple AirTags and new Apple TV will surface. Both products were rumored to be coming last year but never materialized.

iPad Pro 2021

iPad Pro 11-inch 2021

(Image credit: Pigtou)

The upcoming refresh of the iPad Pro will have a few interesting tweaks under the hood. We're anticipating a new mini-LED panel instead of the existing LCD one, which should give the already impressive screen better colors and contrast. 

Also, the 12.9-inch model is believed to be getting thinner bezels, making the tablet smaller while keeping the display the same size.

On the inside, we'd expect a new chipset, likely based on the A14 chip found in the iPhone 12 and the latest iPad Air. This would also likely mean the iPad Pro would become 5G compatible, a feature that would help it make back ground lost to the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7.

AirPods Pro 2

The first generation AirPods Pro

(Image credit: Future)

Apple released the current AirPods Pro in Fall 2019, but the next version is due to arrive in the first half of this year according to several rumors. That makes the Spring 2021 event a likely time for the new earbuds to debut.

Overall it looks like the AirPods Pro 2 will be a modest upgrade over the first generation. The earbuds are predicted to keep the same overall features, including Apple's excellent active noise cancelling. But we may see a new chipset running the show, plus a significant redesign that chops off the stems, leaving AirPods Pro 2 sporting a more traditional rounded earbud shape. 

AirPods 3

AirPods 3 concept

(Image credit: Xhakomo Doda)

It's also been two years since the last refresh of the entry-level AirPods. While we may expect another round of small enhancements to Apple's wireless earbuds, we could see a more drastic change with a new generation.

The rumors around the AirPods 3 are conflicting. Some point to the earbuds being essentially the same as the AirPods Pro, except without ANC. 

Alternatively, the earbuds could be rebranded as AirPods Lite. They could be a cheaper alternative to other Apple headphones, similar to Cupertino's approach with the iPhone SE and Apple Watch SE.

iMac 2021

iMac 2021 concept

(Image credit: MacRumors)

At six years old, the iMac is in need of an update. But with the debut of the powerful M1 chip, found n the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, beating equivalent Intel CPUs, the need for an iMac refresh is more pressing. 

So we're expecting the iMac 2021 to come with either a boosted M1 chip or a new processor from Apple Silicon. That's should provide a new iMac with a significant performance boost over its predecessor. 

The iMac 2021 may be getting a new look too, based on the skinny bezels on the iPad Pro and the Pro Display XDR. It could even receive a mini-LED display, like the one rumored for the iPad Pro and future MacBooks.

iPad 2021

iPad 8th generation

(Image credit: Future)

Rumors suggest a new, 9th-generation iPad will be arriving this year (via MacRumors), replacing the existing iPad 2020 with a new chipset and a larger 10.5-inch display. A  sleeker design that echoes the iPad Air, but keeps the Lightning port and Home button, is also expected. 

The rumored iPad mini 6 could also make its debut, given the current model is approaching three years old. It'll still be the same compact size as before, except with thinner bezels, allowing for a larger display in the same-sized chassis.

Apple AirTags

airtags

(Image credit: MacRumors)

While these trackers have apparently been ready for launch for approximately a year now, we've yet to see the Apple AirTags get officially announced. In theory, there's nothing stopping Apple from finally showing them off at its Spring 2021 event.

The AirTags reportedly function a lot like other trackers, such as those from Tile. Apple's tags will let you find objects you've attached them to via the Find My app on your iPhone. But they could also offer novel functions like AR tracking to help you locate them more precisely, and the option to find other AirTags users' lost items so you can help return them.

Apple TV

Apple TV 4K

(Image credit: Future)

The Apple TV streaming box is another device that's been long rumored to be ripe for an announcement. 

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

And that's about all we're expecting to see at the Apple Spring 2021 event. Make sure to check back with Tom's Guide for all the latest Apple and tech news as we head into the warmer season.