Apple, even though one of the largest global tech firms, likes to think of itself as a boutique company that is different and unique in the way it operates. Apple offers very few products across categories, but unlike luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton and Chanel targets mass-market consumers.
This year, however, Apple has launched more products than ever across all of its product categories. While some might say Apple’s business model is changing under the leadership of Tim Cook, the fact remains that Cupertino knows where the next wave of growth could come in from and for that is ready to tweak its strategy, all while maintaining its luxury brand status.
Here is a roundup of all the devices Apple has launched in 2020, clearly its most productive year despite the pandemic.
Apple iPhone SE
At the beginning of the year, Apple debuted the iPhone SE, the company’s most affordable iPhone in years. The iPhone SE hit the market just when the coronavirus was labeled as a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Experts called Apple’s $399 iPhone SE an iPhone for the pandemic era. Although it lacked an edge-to-edge screen and featured a single camera, Apple’s entry-level iPhone helped the company’s iPhone business back to grow even during a global pandemic. The iPhone SE was primarily designed to appeal to a pool of customers who wanted a new iPhone but had refrained from shelling out $1000 for a new phone. Read our review of the iPhone SE (2020) here.
If the iPhone SE was positioned as a “value for money” iPhone, the new iPad Pro showed Apple’s ability to sell a premium product in the midst of the pandemic. Available in two sizes — 11-inches and 12.9-inches — starting at $799 and $999 respectively, the A12Z-powered new iPad Pros featured the same design as the previous models but came with a lidar scanner that enables new AR experiences along with two cameras including a wide-angle lens. Apple also introduced a $349 Magic keyboard accessory that included a laptop-style trackpad for the iPad for the first time. Read our review of the iPad Pro (2020) here.
The announcement of the new MacBook Air was less of a surprise, though. The most notable feature of the Intel-powered MacBook Air was an improved scissor-switch keyboard that ditched the controversial butterfly mechanism of the last-generation model. The launch of the new $999 MacBook Air, which is regarded as the best-selling notebook in its category, helped Apple’s Mac business reach a record high in Q4. Read our review of the MacBook Air (2020) here.
13-inch MacBook Pro
Not just the MacBook Air, Apple also updated the 13-inch MacBook Pro at the beginning of the year. Like the MacBook Air, the new 13-inch MacBook Pro featured a Magic Keyboard. The update was mostly a spec bump, with the $1299 MacBook Pro running Intel’s 10th gen processors and added support for Dolby Atmos and an improved three-microphone.
Despite rumours of a refreshed iMac with the new design, the $1799 27-inch iMac saw minor improvements. The new iMac was upgraded to Intel’s 10th Gen Comet Lake processors and a higher-resolution 1080p webcam. There was no design refresh, except the new iMac had faster processors, more RAM, more SSD storage, faster AMD GPUs, and True Tone support for the display.
Then came the new $599 iPad Air. Announced at Apple’s September event, the new iPad Air saw a major redesign, becoming the first iPad since the iPad Pro to adopt the flat-edge design and an edge-to-edge display. With the iPad Pro starting at $799, Apple needed a product that could meet the needs of consumers who wanted an iPad Pro-like device but at a lower price point. In many ways, the iPad Air tried to fill the gap between the regular iPad and the iPad Pro. Think of the new iPad Air as a sort of a cheaper iPad Pro. Read our review of the iPad Air here.
iPad (8th gen)
While Apple left the iPad Mini as it is, it did update the entry-level iPad. Aimed at students, the eight-gen iPad featured the same design as the previous-gen model but got the Apple A12 Bionic chip for improved performance. With students attending classes online, it was the smart move on the part of Apple to launch the $329 entry-level iPad at the time of the pandemic.
Apple Watch Series 6 and Watch SE
While the Series 6 might look the same as the last year’s model, it’s the sensor to track blood oxygen saturation that mattered to consumers during the pandemic. For $399, Apple managed to deliver a smartwatch that truly excelled in becoming a lifestyle device. But it was the Watch SE that dominated the conversations. For $279, Apple pitched the Watch SE as the budget alternative to the Watch Series 6 with features supporting like Family Setup and Fall detection. Though it lacked the ability to measure ECG, and used the last-generation S5 processor. Read our review of the Apple Watch Series 6 here.
Apple iPhone 12 series
With four new iPhone 12 models, Apple did what many thought would never happen. Each model catered to its own audience, and that strategy seemed to have worked in favor of Apple. But if one model grabbed maximum headlines it was the 5.4-inch iPhone 12 mini. The $699 iPhone 12 mini featured the exact same specs as the rest of the new iPhones but in the compact form factor. At a time when consumers have mostly forgotten about premium small phones, the iPhone 12 mini brought back the concept of a powerful phone in the smaller form factor. It’s worth discussing the iPhone 12 mini as much as the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro Max. Though the iPhone 12 Pro seemed to be an awkward device in the iPhone 12 lineup.
When Apple introduced the $99 HomePod Mini, there was a moment of silence. Not many expected Apple to launch a $99 smart speaker to appease the masses but contrary to rumours the company came well prepared to take on Amazon and Google. Despite entering late in the budget smart speaker segment, Apple did some right things to fend off the competition. The way the smart speaker is tied to the Apple ecosystem, the company stance on privacy, and the focus on the audio quality over anything makes the HomePod Mini a little different from the competition. Read our review of the HomePod Mini here.
New Macs with the M1 chip
Apple recently made the biggest technological shift by launching its first Macs featuring a custom ARM-based M1 chip made by the tech giant instead of the chipmaker Intel. Apple’s new MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Mac Mini still look the same as the previous models but they now feature the same technology that’s found in the iPhone 12. Apple made bold claims about the M1 chip and said the custom chip will boost Mac’s performance and battery life while also giving them the ability to run iOS applications originally written for iPhones and iPads. By putting its own processor inside the Macs, Apple not only gets greater autonomy over the design and supply chain but also could save itself a lot of cash by ditching Intel.
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