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Ultra, Max, and the next big thing: How Apple’s 2023 will change everything

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Apple’s 2022 was a bit slow on the Mac side, but better days await us in 2023 if you ask me. But what about the iPhone, Apple’s flagship product? And what about the rest of Apple’s product line, including product lines that haven’t been introduced yet? 2023 promises to be great. Here are my predictions for the iPhone, AirPods, HomePod and Apple’s foray into an AR/VR headset.

A brand new iPhone, sort of

For all intents and purposes, 2023 should be the year Apple does a facelift to the overall design language of the iPhone as the current design has been around for three model years since inception. iPhone 12 line it was introduced in late 2020.

But the iPhone line isn’t what it used to be. There are now two distinct tiers of iPhone models, the iPhone and the iPhone Pro, and two sizes each. The Pro models have gradually differentiated themselves from the non-Pro line, and it’s worth pondering whether Apple is really planning to give four phone models a complete redesign in one round.

My guess is that it won’t. There may be some minor design changes to the iPhone 15 (all new iPhones will have USB-C ports instead of Lightning, for example), but I suspect it will continue for another year looking a lot like the current iPhone 14 model. However, there is one iPhone 14 Pro feature that I think is coming to iPhone 15: the Dynamic Island.

origin 1Dynamic Island is coming to Apple’s non-professional phones.

Foundry

The Dynamic Island is one of Apple’s smartest iPhone interface changes in years, and there’s definitely an argument to be made that it should be reserved as a way to motivate people to buy the pricier iPhone Pro models. But consistency across a product line has value, and Apple can add Dynamic Island to the iPhone 15 without removing most of the differentiation between lines.

I’m also wondering if maybe the iPhone 15 Pro might not look any different than that iPhone 14Pro. You’d think this would be the year for Apple to ramp up iPhone sales with a new design, and you’d be right. But I think Apple will take the approach it did with the Apple Watch Ultra and introduce a new high-end model showcasing designer flourishes that will eventually make their way into the rest of the line.

Out with the iPhone 14 Pro Max, with the iPhone 15 Ultra, a big new model with a bold design and a new camera subsystem unlike anything we’ve seen before on an iPhone. (Rumors of Apple toying with a periscope-based system to increase focal length have been circulating for some time.) People who want the most cutting-edge iPhones will have to look for the privilege. And guess what? A lot of people will.

Wearables, home and accessories

It’s hard to predict what changes Apple will make to its line of accessories. The AirPods line looks pretty solid, with the exception of the old and weird first generation AirPod Max headphones. So I’m going out on a limb and predict that we’ll see a better, more sensible set of AirPods Max headphones design in 2023.

origin 1AirPods Max need an update and may finally get one in 2023.

West Davis/Foundry

When I consult my Magic 8 ball on the Apple Watch, all it says is “Reply confused, try again later.” I expect the mainline Apple Watch to get a little redesign to pick up some of the features from the Apple Watch Ultra, especially the Action button. It looks like the design of the Apple Watch is due for an update overall, but I’m not sure 2023 is when that will happen.

And in terms of home technology, while I’ve been repeatedly burned predicting Apple’s introduction of new home products, I choose to believe that Apple was simply biding its time, biding its time. Question specification to be finalized so that it can go into action. (Give me this, okay?) So I’m doing it again – I predict Apple will actually do something new in the house!

The question is, what? Perhaps it will be a new, larger version of the original HomePods. Perhaps it will be a home theater device that combines tvOS with speakers to create a great soundbar experience. Maybe it will be a HomePod with a kitchen screen. I don’t know which is more likely, but it looks like Apple needs to do something somethingRight?

A large dose of reality

Finally, the big one. After years of rumors and what appears to be numerous delays in 2022, it seems 2023 is when Apple finally, finally unwraps his new augmented reality headset.

My best guess: Apple will unveil the product at a spring event and then ship it later in the summer, after developers have had some time to delve into the details of how they can build apps for a brand new Apple platform.

I also intend to swim against the tide regarding reports that the product will be extremely expensive and will only be sold in very small quantities. It doesn’t really look like a roll-out of an Apple product to me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure it will be expensive. But I suspect it will cost less than the $2,000-plus price tag that is being banned in some reports, even if Apple has to swallow its usual large margins to get it out.

Apple will want to motivate people, at least the adventurous ones, to give this product a try. And for developers to get excited and committed to making apps, the product needs a market and an audience! Apple will be highly motivated to launch this first headset and start building momentum, and an ultra-expensive developer kit isn’t the way to do that.

Some of these predictions will, of course, be wrong. But I’m confident many of them will be correct, or close to it, and if so, 2023 could be the most exciting year for Apple watchers in a decade. I can’t wait to see what’s coming and for all my predictions to be fully confirmed of course.