Taking a look back at another week of news and headlines from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop includes a surprising new iPhone, iPhone 14 Plus production woes, iPhone 14 Pro SIM card problems, brand new iPads, iPad Pros, and Apple TVs, the missing MacBook Pro launch, macOS and iPadOS updates, iPad Mini price rises, and the return of Russian social media to the App Store.
Apple Loop is here to remind you of a few of the very many discussions that have happened around Apple over the last seven days (and you can read my weekly digest of Android news here on Forbes).
iPhone SE 4 Suddenly Appears
The iPhone 15 may not be the only new iPhone to launch in 2023. The iPhone SE, which appeared to have settled into a two-year update cycle, is being prepared not only for an early Q2 release but a makeover that will see it move towards the current iPhone design ethos with a full frontal display:
“…we can expect the iPhone SE 4 to feature a 6.1-inch display WITH a notch and come in three colors: Midnight, Starlight and Product RED. If you have eyes, you may have also noticed that the new iPhone SE looks eerily similar to the iPhone XR… yes, that’s the point. Apple tends to cop previous generation’s iPhone design for their SE refreshes and that’s exactly the case here.”
iPhone 14 Plus Production Halted
Apple dropped the idea of an iPhone 14 Mini, instead moving in the other direction and returning to the iPhone Plus design of a larger-screened model. It looks good on paper, but the sales are not there… so much so that production is reportedly being halted, and more effort placed on the ‘only slightly more expensive’ iPhone 14 Pro:
“Possible factors at play here include the rising cost of everyday living due to inflation and a weaker than average global economy for a number of factors. Apple has also positioned the iPhone 14 Plus at a logical but tough price point; iPhone 14 costs $799, and has a fairly large display. iPhone 14 Plus for $899 has an even larger display, but no other differences. That compares to iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max, priced at $999 and $1099 respectively, which feature more advanced camera systems and a redesigned sensor layout.”
New iPhone 14 Owners Have Massive SIM Card Issues
Users of the new iPhone 14 family of handsets are reporting issues around their SIM cards, which are suddenly being reported as ‘Not Supported’; although hard resets are fixing the problem, this isn’t an approach being recommended. One potential cause of this may be the move to support eSIM-only iPhones, but as yet, all we know is that Apple is aware of the issue, but there’s no indication of a timescale for the fix:
“In a memo sent to authorized retailers, first seen by MacRumors and which I have subsequently seen and verified via an Apple partner, Apple has acknowledged a widely reported bug with SIMs. Affected iPhone 14 models display a “SIM Not Supported” error message, then the phones freeze, rendering them unusable until they are hard reset.”
New iPads For Many
The big news from Apple this week was a flurry of press releases announcing new hardware, most notably the new tablets. First up is the iPad Pro, and Apple’s push to hand the professional tablet as equivalent to a laptop… after all, its sporting the same M2 chipset as the new MacBook Air!
“The iPad Pro also got a revision today, as both the 11-inch and 12.9-inch models were bumped to the new M2 processor, which includes hardware-accelerated ProRes encoding and decoding. Additionally, they add support for the faster Wi-Fi 6E protocol and Bluetooth 5.3, as well as a new “Apple Pencil hover” mode that can detect the Pencil’s height at up to 12mm above the display, and allow the iPad to react accordingly.”
An update to the regular iPad was also launched. As with other iPads, the model used USB-C for connectivity (rather than Apple’s proprietary lightning port) as well as bumping the camera up to 4K resolution along with the screen resolution. Processor wise though, it lags behind the iPhone Pro’s A16 chipset, instead rolling with 20202’s A14. Good enough, but don’t expect miracles:
“Coming in at 10.9 inches, the iPad (10th generation) has the largest screen Apple has ever put on a standard iPad. It’s the first time in three generations that Apple has upgraded the screen size — the 7th, 8th, and 9th generations each came in at 10.2 inches. This is also the first standard iPad to have a Liquid Retina display instead of a regular Retina display. This means higher resolutions, and it’ll be nearly impossible to see the divide between the pixels on your screen.”
Apple TV Has A New Resolution
Also in the mix is a new edition of Apple TV. Moving up to offer 4K, it provides access to Apple’s gated products, including Apple Arcade, Apple Fitness+, Apple TV, and wider offerings such as Apple Music and several third-party online services:
“The new Apple TV 4K is available in two configurations: the Apple TV 4K with Wi-Fi, which offers 64 GB of storage and retails at $129, plus the Apple TV 4K with Wi-Fi + Ethernet, which offers 128 GB of storage and retails at $149. You can order both now on the Apple site with availability beginning Friday, November 4.”
One Of Our MacBooks Is Missing
A more interesting question after Apple’s “launch by press release” day is what was not released. The expected update to the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro laptops was not on show. They are likely being shunted elsewhere to give the iPad Pro, powered by the desktop-class M2, time in the spotlight. But where does that leave the story of these powerful macOS machines?
“It is Apple’s story to tell, and no doubt the geekerati will spot the press releases when they pop up in the Apple Newsroom. Yet I can’t help feeling that delivering “the best high-performance laptop in a way that only Apple can” is a story that needs to be told far and wide and complements the Mac Pro ending rather than be hidden away to allow for the Mac Pro to offer a quiet and niche denouement.”
New macOS and iPadOS Versions Incoming
The new builds of the operating systems are expected on October 24th. Given the non-appearance of the MacBook Pro, perhaps the hardware for the new software will arrive at the same time?
“The iPadOS 16 update runs on all iPad Pros, the 5th-generation iPad and later, the fifth-generation iPad mini and later, and the 3rd-generation iPad Air and later, dropping support for the venerable iPad Air 2 and a handful of other models (it will also ship on all the new iPads Apple announced today). The macOS Ventura update generally requires a Mac released in 2017 or later, dropping support for various models released between 2013 and 2016.”
iPad Mini Price Shoots Up
Its American base may not notice, but Apple has bumped up the iPad Mini prices around the world – to look at the UK, the 64 GB model moves from £479 to £569, a near twenty percent increase. What’s going on? Officially, we don’t know:
“Apple gave no reason for the price hikes outside the US, but they could be linked to the strong dollar combined with rising inflation and increased costs, although the price of most other latest-gen devices in Apple’s hardware product lineup have remained constant.”
Previously, Apple had removed social network apps from a number of key Russian networks. The equivalents to Gmail and Facebook disappeared three weeks ago, with nods towards UK sanctions being the reason. Now, with little explanation, the apps are back.
“It wasn’t immediately clear why Apple restored the apps, since ownership of VKontake and Mail.ru has not changed since the apps were removed, and the leadership of Gazprombank and Sberbank remain sanctioned by the British government. However, it’s possible Apple’s decision was related to the use of both services by activists.”
Apple Loop brings you seven days worth of highlights every weekend here on Forbes. Don’t forget to follow me so you don’t miss any coverage in the future. Last week’s Apple Loop can be read here, or this week’s edition of Loop’s sister column, Android Circuit, is also available on Forbes.