Apple ‘Peek Performance’ event highlights
Here’s a quick recap of everything announced at the event and why it matters
Apple’s March events may not typically pack the kind of firepower and category-defining devices seen at events later in the year, but they tend to set the tone for the year. At its first event of 2022, dubbed Peek Performance, the Cupertino major made a slew of announcements across iPhone, iPad and Mac categories, some minor and some…mind-blowing. Here’s a quick recap of everything announced at the event and why it matters.
iPhone SE 5G: This one is for the folks who swear by their physical home buttons with TouchID sensors and small 4.7-inch-display form factor, never mind the dated design. This time, Apple has packed in the latest A15 Bionic chip inside, which is the same one found in the pricier iPhone 13 models. This makes the budget-by-comparison iPhone SE no less on performance as the flagships, with better claimed battery life and 5G to boot. The SE also has a 12-megapixel main camera, which allows upgrades to computational photography features like Smart HDR 4, Photographic Styles, Portrait Mode and Deep Fusion, but skips on Night Mode and compatibility with the MagSafe accessory system. The rest - IP67 water resistance, the ever reliable Touch ID home button – stays the same. The iPhone SE will be available in India on March 18, in 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB models in midnight, starlight, and red colorways, starting at Rs. 43,900. While the performance gains and the ability to buy into the iOS ecosystem ‘on a budget’ is undeniable, the battery life claims and the experience of using a 4.7-inch display in 2022 is still something I’ll have to report back on in my full review. If you prefer a Face ID-enabled iPhone, you might want to check out the new colors available for the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro - green and alpine green, respectively – again, available from March 18.
iPad Air: The 2020 update to the iPad Air was a design overhaul that brought the flat-edges, smaller bezels and USB-C connectivity from the iPad Pros to the iPad Air – this time around, the improvements are mostly under the hood. The new iPad Air now sports the same Apple M1 chip that powers the iPad Pros and some Macs. Performance bumps aside (and you can count on them!), the display is slightly brighter, and the front camera is now a 12MP wide-angle camera with support for Center Stage, which keeps you zoomed and centered in the frame during video calls (even if you move around), expanding to allow more folks as and when they enter the frame. The new iPad Air will be available starting March 18 in 64GB and 256GB configurations and in space grey, starlight, pink, purple, and blue finishes, and they’ll set you back by Rs. 54,900 for the Wi-Fi / Rs. 68,900 for the Wi-Fi + Cellular options.
M1 Ultra: If the M1 Max wasn’t overkill enough for most folks, here comes the M1 Ultra, which is essentially two M1 Max chips fused together using a die technology Apple calls UltraFusion. The result is downright bonkers – you get, on the chip, up to 128GB of unified memory, a 20-core CPU, 64-core GPU, and a 32-core Neural Engine, all chattering with each other over 2.5TB/second low-latency bandwidth while still posing as a single unit to any existing apps. Apple claims that while the chip is 8x the current M1 chip, it consumes up to 90% lower power compared to 16-core desktop processors, and the first product we’re going to see this launch in is the new Apple Mac Studio.
Mac Studio and Studio Display: In a move that few saw coming, Apple’s Mac Mini has gained a super-pro-targeted sibling by way of the Mac Studio. Think of it a super-sized, double-height Mac Mini that’s, with the inclusion of an M1 Ultra option that starts at Rs. 3,89,900, solely aimed at creative professionals who can justify the outlay (there’s a M1 Ultra variant that starts the Mac Studio lineup at Rs. 1,89,900). The former supports, as you’d expect, 128GB of unified memory and packs in all manners of ports worthy of a desktop for pros - four Thunderbolt 4 ports, two USB-A ports, a 10-gigabit Ethernet port, an HDMI port, and 3.5mm jack capable of supporting high-impedance headphones or powered speakers…plus a SDXC card slot in the front! Apple says you can output the display to four of its XDR monitors and a 4K TV simultaneously…or you could opt for the all-new pairing with Apple’s own 27-inch monitor called the Studio Display. Okay, get this – the monitor has Apple’s A13 Bionic chips built in, features a 5K resolution (with options for a glare-reducing textured glass), a 12-megapixel webcam, and a six-speaker array that offers spatial sound. In a monitor…insane. The Studio Display will retail alongside the Mac Studio on March 18 for Rs. 1,59,900, although the display by itself plays well with any recent Mac.