At its first launch event of 2022, titled “Peek Performance”, Apple announced a new iPhone SE with refreshed hardware and 5G connectivity, a new iPad Air, a powerful new desktop computer, and much more. Apple also announced its most powerful SoC, the M1 Ultra, which completes the first generation of the Apple Silicon family. Below is a quick look at everything that Apple announced.
iPhone SE 5G: Affordable entry point to Apple ecosystem
The new iPhone SE 5G looks the same as the 4G iPhone SE that was launched back in 2020. In fact, it carries the iPhone 6 design language and compact form factor, with two major changes. Firstly, you get the A15 Bionic SoC under the hood, which is the same powerful chipset that we have seen on the iPhone 13 series that was launched in September 2021.
The iPhone SE model with a 4.7-inch HD screen, thick bezels, and a physical Touch ID button may seem outdated, but there is still a market for this type of device. According to Counterpoint Research’s Smartphone Model Share Tracker, Q4 2021, the 4G iPhone SE 2020 accounted for 12% of Apple’s total iPhone unit sales from its launch in Q2 2020 to Q4 2021. Globally, Japan and US are the biggest markets for the iPhone SE. It was also among the best-selling smartphones of 2021, globally.
Apple claims that the new SE model is almost 2.2x faster than iPhone 8, and over 5x faster than the iPhone 6s. The 12MP camera on the SE misses out on sensor-shift image stabilization as seen on the 13-series. But there are some improvements on the computational photography side, which includes Deep Fusion, Portrait effects and Smart HDR 4.
The target audience for Apple seems to be these iPhone 6s to iPhone 8 users, who still prefer the form factor, but are looking for faster connectivity and new features. Though one thing to note here is that, unlike the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 series, the new iPhone SE does not support mmWave 5G, and only comes with Sub-6GHz.
The iPhone SE 5G is priced at $429 for the base model with 64GB storage, which is about $30 more than iPhone SE 2020 which was launched at $399. Despite the slightly higher entry price, we expect the new iPhone SE to do well.
iPad Air 2022 with 5G, M1 SoC: Pro Experience on Budget
Apple also announced the refreshed iPad Air model which is now powered by the M1 SoC, the same as the iPad Pro models and the MacBook Air M1. The new iPad Air follows the design language as the Pro models, featuring a bigger 10.9-inch screen with 500 nits of brightness.
The Touch ID sensor is now embedded in the power button, features stereo speakers along the top and bottom. What’s more, the front 12MP camera now supports the centerstage feature as well to automatically pan and keep you in the center in video calls.
Other features such as support for Apple Pencil, Magic Keyboard, and Smart Keyboard are also present. The iPad Air (2022) will be available in both Wi-Fi and Cellular (5G) modes, and two storage options – 64GB and 256GB. The Wi-Fi-only base model starts at $599, whereas the Wi-Fi + Cellular model starts at $749.
M1 Ultra SoC, Apple’s most powerful ARM-based Custom Processor
In the transition to move from Intel-based processors to Apple Silicon, Apple announced the M1 SoC. It was followed by the M1 Pro and M1 Max SoCs for laptops and Mac Mini. At the “Peek Performance” event Apple introduced the fourth and final member of the M1 family, the M1 Ultra. Apple says it is the most powerful ARM-based custom processor designed for Mac Studio desktop computers. It is essentially two M1 Max chips that are connected together.
Apple is calling it UltraFusion interconnect architecture where a silicon interposer is used to offer bandwidth of up to 2.5TB/s. So, instead of having two separate chips connected to the motherboard, the UltraFusion solution helps in reducing latency. As the M1 Ultra is essentially two M1 Max SoC, it features:
- A 20-core CPU (16-Performance cores, four-efficiency cores)
- 64GPU cores
- 32-core Neural Engine
- 114 billion transistors
In terms of Memory bandwidth, the M1 Ultra SoC can reach 800GB/s and can be configured to have 128GB of unified memory. With all this power on hand, the M1 Ultra can decode media and simultaneously play back up to 18 streams of 8K ProRes 422 video. It can also support four 6K Pro Display XDR and one 4K display.
Studio Display: High-res Screen with Hi-Fi Audio
One of the other interesting products announced by Apple includes the Studio Display. This $1,599 Studio Display comes with a 27-inch, 5K Retina screen (5120×2880 pixels), and 600 nits brightness.
Given the current work-and-learn from home scenario, the Studio Display includes a three-mic array and six-speaker system with support for Spatial Audio. There is also a 12MP front camera with a centerstage feature for video calls on apps like Webex, FaceTime, and Zoom. These features are enabled by the A13 Bionic chip that powers the Studio Display, along with “Hey Siri” voice command.
In terms of connectivity, the Studio Display features one Thunderbolt 3 port connect and charge compatible Mac, and three USB-C ports for connecting your accessories. The Studio Display comes with two choices of stands – one which lets you tilt the screen up to 30-degrees, the other that lets you adjust the height as well. There is also a VESA mount option that lets you tilt the screen horizontally or vertically, depending on your needs.
Mac Studio: Powerful Desktop Content Creators and Creative Professionals
The Mac Studio is a small, yet powerful desktop computer that looks like a Mac mini, but packs a lot of punch inside. It is designed considering the needs of content creators, film studios, professional photographers, and animators in mind. Users can choose between M1 Max or M1 Ultra SoC model depending on their workflow.
In terms of connectivity, the Mac Studio has four Thunderbolt 4 ports and a 10Gb Ethernet port. There is an HDMI out port, an audio jack, and two USB-A ports as well. Bluetooth 5.0 and Wi-Fi 6 connectivity is also available on-board. Lastly, the front of the Mac Studio also features two USB-C ports and an SD card slot. Price starts at $1,999 for the base model with the M1 Max chip, whereas the M1 Ultra chip variant starts at $3,999.
Apple did throw some performance numbers saying that the M1 Ultra powered Mac Studio offers 90% faster performance than a Mac Pro powered by Intel’s 16-core Xeon processor. It is also roughly 60% faster than a 28-core Mac Pro. Lastly, Apple did make a big claim that the M1 Ultra has the fastest GPU shipped on a Mac yet. Given how M1 family chipsets have offered peak performance, it remains to be seen how far these claims hold when users start using them.
Other Announcements from Apple TV+ to new colors for iPhone 13 series
Besides these big announcements, Apple also announced two new color options for the iPhone 13 series. The vanilla iPhone 13 will come in a new Green color tone, whereas the Pro model will be available in the Alpine Green color variant.
And lastly, for baseball fans, Friday Night Baseball will now be streaming on Apple TV+.