X

Apple's Peek Performance Event: Follow Live Announcements of iPhone SE, Mac Studio, iPad Air

Apple's also prepping iOS 15.4, with new emoji, Universal Control and the ability to use Face ID while wearing a mask.

iansherr.jpg
iansherr.jpg

Ian Sherr

See full bio
Apple logo think different
James Martin/CNET

It's springtime in tech land, and that usually means it's time for Apple to hold its first big product announcement event of the year. While these aren't events where we'd get a new iPhone 14, for example, Apple typically takes these opportunities to upgrade its iPads and Mac computers, and introduce the occasional new product like the AirTags trackers.

On Tuesday, Apple is expected to focus its attention on its iPhone SE, the relatively low-cost smartphone that reviewers, including here at CNET, often label as a great value for the money. This year, the device is expected to get a headline new feature of 5G wireless, which at the current price of $399, would make it one of the cheapest devices in its class.

Read more: How to Watch Apple's Event Live

We're covering Apple's event live, as it happens, following the announcements with analysis and perspective you can only get here at CNET. Follow along below.

Questions left unanswered

By Ian Sherr

There are a few things we're curious about now that Apple's event has finished.

  • We'll need to test the M1 Ultra to see if it's worth it, but Apple talks a big game.
  • Apple teased a new Mac Pro, which fans of that device are probably pleased to hear, but when should we expect it? Summer?
  • iPad Pro vs. iPad Air. At this point, the iPad Pro and iPad Air are powered by the same M1 chip, but for radically different prices. The iPad Air starts at $599, while the iPad Pro costs $799. Now, for that $200 you get a larger and better screen on the iPad Pro, and the option for a 12-inch model. It also has better cameras in the back, along with a lidar scanner. But we're curious to see how they stack up in our reviews.
  • Green. Last year, Apple introduced the iPhone 12 in purple. This year, its new color is green. I guess that's not a question so much as a statement. Did I mention green? A question I could ask is why Apple didn't license Kermit the Frog to sing its introduction, considering last year we got the Candy Man song from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory?
  • Will the Magic Mouse ever get a better charging cord?

Thanks for following along with our live coverage, and stay tuned to CNET for reviews and analysis over the coming days and weeks.

Fin

By Ian Sherr

"It's pretty remarkable what Apple silicon makes possible," Cook says, as he rounds out the presentation at 58 minutes. "We look forward to seeing what our users will do with all of these incredible products and the impact they will have on people's lives."

And that's it.

Mac Studio pricing

By Ian Sherr

Apple says the Mac Studio with M1 Max starts at $2,000, the Mac Studio with M1 Ultra starts at $4,000. The Studio Display starts at $1,600.

Apple also says upgraded Mac Pro is coming "another day."

Mac Studio starting at $3,999

By James Martin
screen-shot-2022-03-08-at-10-55-19-am.png

Studio Display $1,599

By James Martin
screen-shot-2022-03-08-at-10-55-28-am.png

Studio Display features

By James Martin
screen-shot-2022-03-08-at-10-52-47-am.png

Studio Display

By James Martin
screen-shot-2022-03-08-at-10-52-28-am.png

Studio Display

By Ian Sherr

Apple's Studio Display is a 27-inch screen pushing 5K, P3 wide color, and 14.7 million pixels. It's got an "industry leading anti-reflective coating," or you can go for that "nano texture glass option" that the XDR has.

Apple also included an A13 Bionic chip in it, the same that powered the iPhone 11 in 2019. The chip helps to power the built-in camera and spatial audio/Dolby Atmos. "This is the best combination of camera and audio ever in a desktop display," Apple says.

14.7 million pixels

By James Martin
screen-shot-2022-03-08-at-10-48-54-am.png

Mac Studio

By James Martin
screen-shot-2022-03-08-at-10-47-21-am.png

Mac Studio with M1 Ultra performance

By James Martin
screen-shot-2022-03-08-at-10-44-38-am.png

Mac Studio speed

By Ian Sherr

Apple says the entry-level Mac Studio, with an M1 Max, is up to 50% faster than its existing Mac Pro with a 16-core Intel Xeon chip. With an Ultra, it's 80% faster. GPU performance is better too -- beating out AMD Radeon chips.

Apple says there will be up to 64GB of unified memory with the M1 Max, and 128GB of unified memory with the M1 Ultra.

Mac Studio performance

By James Martin
screen-shot-2022-03-08-at-10-41-31-am.png

Mac Studio is small

By Ian Sherr

The Mac Studio design appears to be the size of two Mac Minis stacked on one another. Footprint is 7.7 inches square, and the height is 3.7 inches. Apple says its shell is designed out of a single piece of machined aluminum, and the fans suck in air from the bottom, and push out the back.

Apple says there are four Thunderbolt 4 ports in the back, as well as two USB-A. It can support up to four Pro Display XDRs (that's not cheap!) plus a 4K TV. In the front, it's got two more Thunderbolt 4 ports, and an SD card slot.

Mac Studio

By James Martin
screen-shot-2022-03-08-at-10-39-24-am.png

Mac Studio

By Ian Sherr

Apple's M1 Ultra will first be built into the Mac Studio -- a new Mac computer powered by either M1 Max or M1 Ultra. It'll also power a Studio Display, which Apple will get to in a bit. First we learn more about Mac Studio.

Mac Studio

By James Martin
screen-shot-2022-03-08-at-10-37-20-am.png

M1 Ultra testimonials

By Ian Sherr

While Apple hasn't talked about what specific computer it's going to offer the M1 Ultra in, it has a video of a bunch of developers talking about how it's made their creativity software better. That includes Adobe, Vectorworks and more. Appropriately enough for International Women's Day, all the developers are women.

M1 Ultra performance

By James Martin
screen-shot-2022-03-08-at-10-31-33-am.png

M1 Ultra chip performance

By James Martin
screen-shot-2022-03-08-at-10-30-53-am.png

New M1 chip -- M1 Ultra

By Ian Sherr

Apple introduced a new M1 chip, called Ultra, for desktop computers.

Apple says that with M1 Ultra, it did "something truly groundbreaking." Instead of following typical chiplet design, connecting multiple CPUs to help increase performance, Apple says it has a special "ultra fusion" architecture, which treats two chips as one in software. As a result, it's apparently 7x faster than an M1. 

M1 chips

By James Martin
screen-shot-2022-03-08-at-10-25-45-am.png

Orders starting Friday

By James Martin
screen-shot-2022-03-08-at-10-23-36-am.png

iPad Air starting at $599

By Ian Sherr

Apple says it'll offer five colors, including my personal favorite color purple, in 64GB and 256GB. Preorders start Friday, available March 18.

iPad Air starting from $599

By James Martin
screen-shot-2022-03-08-at-10-23-19-am.png

Environmental enhancements

By James Martin
screen-shot-2022-03-08-at-1-21-23-pm-2.png

iPad OS

By James Martin
screen-shot-2022-03-08-at-1-20-34-pm-2.png

New iPad Air

By James Martin
screen-shot-2022-03-08-at-10-20-10-am.png

iPad Air updated with M1 and 5G

By Ian Sherr

The iPad Air will now have the same M1 chip that powered the iPad Pro. Apple says it's twice as fast as the best selling Windows laptop in its price range, which is an interesting comparison considering iPad OS and Windows are very different types of software.

The iPad Air will also have 5G connectivity, and a faster USB-C port.

iPad Air with M1 has a 60% performance increase

By James Martin
screen-shot-2022-03-08-at-10-17-22-am.png

$30 difference

By Ian Sherr

Apple's iPhone SE jumped $30 in price from last year's model to $429. Apple likely won't say why it raised prices, but in an age of supply chain crunches and continuing inflation, it's sadly something some people had been expecting.

iPhone SE starting at $429

By James Martin
screen-shot-2022-03-08-at-10-14-51-am.png

iPhone SE has tougher glass, better camera

By Ian Sherr

Among the features Apple offers with the iPhone SE, the company drew attention to the glass, which it says is the "toughest glass on a smartphone." Apparently it's the same glass that's on the back of the iPhone 13 -- though notably not the "ceramic shield" that's on the front.

Apple says it also has "our latest camera innovations," relying on a 12-megapixel camera with smart HDR.

It starts at $429, and releases March 18. Preorders start Friday.

5G

By James Martin
screen-shot-2022-03-08-at-10-12-33-am.png

CPU performance

By James Martin
screen-shot-2022-03-08-at-1-10-32-pm-2.png

Apple silicon

By Ian Sherr

Cook moves on to Apple silicon, talking about the A15 Bionic chip powering its iPhone 13. It will now move on to powering the new iPhone SE.

The device notably still has a fingerprint sensor, rather than relying on Face ID like Apple's iPhone X and beyond.

New iPhone SE

By James Martin
screen-shot-2022-03-08-at-1-08-59-pm-2.png

Preorder Friday

By James Martin
screen-shot-2022-03-08-at-1-07-50-pm-2.png

New green finishes

By James Martin
screen-shot-2022-03-08-at-10-07-38-am.png

Two new iPhone colors

By Ian Sherr

Apple's introducing two new green finishes for its iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro. They arrive March 18. Preorder this Friday.

Friday Night Baseball

By James Martin
screen-shot-2022-03-08-at-10-05-50-am.png

Apple TV Plus working with MLB

By Ian Sherr

Apple's adding sports to its $5-a-month Apple TV Plus service, starting with Friday Night Baseball. Apple says there will be games "you can only see on Apple TV Plus." Curious what that will look like. 

Apple TV Plus

By James Martin
screen-shot-2022-03-08-at-10-01-27-am.png
Screenshot/CNET

It's started

By Ian Sherr

Apple's event starts with Tim Cook talking about Apple TV Plus. "We've been working hard to deliver new products and services that help you stay connected, productive and entertained," he says. "Like many of you, I've been watching a lot of shows and movies with the time I've been spending at home."

That settles it

By Ian Sherr

For everyone wondering what "Peek Performance" was referring to, Apple CEO Tim Cook has finally made it official:

Apple's livestream has started

By Ian Sherr

I've always been fascinated by pre-event music. It sets the tone for what companies want to convey, and you can tell when they put thought into it. During the recession, for example, company earnings calls had a lot of soothing and classical music -- clearly meant to calm us during stressful financial times.

Apple typically has pop-y music ahead of its events. But then during the pandemic, the company switched to this new-age-y background music to lead up to its livestreams. Apple isn't the only company that's chosen that type of music either -- it's a genre I like to call Bond Villain Party Music.

Well, today it seems Apple's switched back to its pop-y roots. So far we've been treated to We Are the Light by Myd, 87 Days by Haich Ber Na, Wonder by Yung Bae Feat. Channel Tres, and Feels Like I'm Flying by Yeek.

CNET's live watch party has started

By Ian Sherr

Not that you'd ever tire of my writing, but in case you want to watch and hear from our team as well, follow our live watch party here and on YouTube.

Ukraine and Russia

By Ian Sherr

Apple's event is being broadcast from its headquarters in California, about 6,000 miles away from Ukraine, the country at the center of Europe's largest war since World War II

Apple CEO Tim Cook has spoken out about the fighting, which was caused by Russia's unprovoked invasion two weeks ago. He's said the company is contributing to humanitarian efforts, including Doctors Without Borders, the International Rescue Committee and UNICEF. Apple has also joined the international community leveling sanctions at Russia, in the company's case by shutting off sales of new products and limiting the reach of Russia's state-owned media outside that country.

"We're doing everything we can to support our team members and their families in the region," Cook said last week during the company's annual shareholders meeting. "And we're joining all those around the world who are calling for peace."

Things that make you go 'Mmmmm'

By Ian Sherr

One of the more interesting stories about Apple in the past couple of years has been about its chips. In 2010, Apple announced its first iPad was going to be powered by a chip called the A4, designed by the company's teams specifically for its devices. Back then, the iPhone was doing well, but its chip ambitions were unproven.

Fast forward to today, and not only is the iPhone one of the most popular consumer products in the world, but it's also powered by the successor A-series chip. Apple's also used that technology in its other devices, including the Apple Watch, AirPods, Apple TV and HomePod. 

Over the past couple of years, Apple's also begun using a variant of its A-series chips in its computers, starting with the M1 in 2020. Apple said it would take two years to transition its product line of computers over to the M-series chips, with rumors swirling that the company will likely finish in the summer with a new Mac Pro.

During today's event, we may hear more about the M1 -- or even its higher-performance cousins the M1 Pro and M1 Max. The Mac Mini, which helped kick off the M1 transition two years ago, is now due for an upgrade. And so is the MacBook Air. Meanwhile, there's already talk about an M2 chip on the horizon.

Let's talk about 5G

By Ian Sherr

So maybe you're one of those people who are disappointed by 5G, but that hasn't stopped the cellular carriers and tech industry from fully embracing it. They want everyone on 5G ASAP, and the iPhone SE is likely going to be the most dramatic example of that yet.

Typically, 5G has been a premium-product thing up until now, but it's likely that when you walk into a carrier store this holiday shopping season (I know, only nine months to go!) you won't see anything but 5G. For Apple, that means upgrading its $399 budget iPhone to the technology.

For those of you who don't get 5G where you live, like yours truly, just because a device is 5G-capable doesn't mean it only runs 5G. The latest wireless technology still works with 4G and the unfortunately named "5G E" too. So, if you've delayed buying a new phone because you don't want to join the hype train, don't worry.

Welcome to CNET's live coverage

By Ian Sherr

Hello everyone, and welcome to our live coverage of Apple's springtime event, Peek Performance. I've heard more jokes about those two words in the last week than I care to admit -- CNET's Patrick Holland said it was the name of his high school band -- but now is the time to focus on the actual announcements.

As we've discussed in our pre-event coverage, we're expecting Apple to show off an updated iPhone SE. We're also expecting new iPads and Mac computers, and late rumors around the internet point to new charging bricks too.

Yesterday, on a Twitter Spaces chat, we discussed what crazy things we won't see from Apple. Like an Apple Car. Or a TV set. Or the company's long-rumored AR/VR headset.

Meantime, make sure to prepare for the upcoming announcements by following our livestream either here, or on YouTube.