Just a day after Qualcomm boasted about how much faster and energy efficient its latest flagship Snapdragon Elite X PC and laptop chips were compared to the M2 chipsets found on MacBooks, Apple sent out invitations for an event dubbed ‘Scary Fast’ that is scheduled to be held on the eve of Halloween.
Apple subtly said the main focus of the upcoming event will be the new Macs by hiding its Finder icon from macOS in the invitation teaser. The name Scary Fast is also a strong indicator that Apple will have some freakishly speedy computers to show off on Monday.
Analysts expect Apple to release the third version of its M-series processors, the M3, which will debut with the soon-to-be-released Macbooks and iMac. Interestingly enough, this may be the first time that Apple will be releasing all three models of the M3 – the standalone M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max, a feat the company has yet to achieve.
Let us look closer at what Apple might have in store for us this Halloween.
M3 Silicon Chipsets
Apple wouldn’t have named the event ‘Scary Fast’ without having powerful hardware to show for it. But all that claim can only be backed up by one key component, its upgraded chipsets.
It has been nearly 18 months since Apple introduced the M2 series of processors. However, some are raising doubts as the company only released the highest-end and most powerful iterations of MacBook Pros powered by the M2 Pro and M2 Max chips at the start of the year. So why so soon?
If you look back, Apple launched the M2 series with the current generation MacBooks and iMac 19 months after the M1, which made its debut in October 2020. So, if Apple were to announce its new system on a chip (SoC) next week, it would be following an almost similar time frame between the launch of the M1 and M2 series Apple silicon chipsets.
Prominent Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who earlier predicted that there won’t be any new Macs this year, is now suggesting that the M3 series of MacBook Pros will be the event’s main focus. His previous predictions came on the back of Apple’s plans to limit Mac shipments to between 400k and 500k units in Q4 2023 due to waning consumer demand.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg tech analyst Mark Gruman expects Apple to unveil the new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros at the event, which will be powered by the company’s next-gen M3 Pro and M3 Max silicon.
A new 24-inch iMac is arguably one of the most rumored products that will be featured at the impromptu event. It is also a special occasion for Apple’s computer, as it turns 25 this year. So, it won’t come as a surprise to see the M3 iMac become the centerpiece of ‘Scary Fast’.
The iMac was long overdue for a refresh, as the current generation with the M1 processors came out in April 2021. Apple even skipped the iMac altogether when it upgraded the rest of the Mac lineup to the M2 series.
Gruman noted that iMacs were short in supply at Apple retail stores this year, which is an indicator that a new model is right around the corner.
If the rumors are true, the new iMac will retain its 24-inch screen but will be limited to the baseline M3 chip. Customers may have the option to upgrade the processor with more graphics cores. But it is highly unlikely that Apple will put its high-end M3 Pro and Max chips in the iMac.
Despite that, the M3 iMac will be a beefier and a much-needed upgrade to the current generation M1 iMac and will be more capable than the M2 series of MacBooks. All-in-all, the upcoming Apple desktop will be a worthy upgrade for many Mac users.
Strong rumors suggest that Apple will be showing off at least one variant of the all-new M3 MacBook at the event. Gruman pointed out that the 13-inch, 14-inch, and 16-inch MacBook Pros all currently have extended shipping times on Apple’s website, an indicator of new product launches in the Apple world. Furthermore, it was also reported that the company has been testing M3 Max and M3 Pro MacBook Pro models and they would be ready for launch in the first half of 2024.
If Ming-Chin Kuo’s suggestions are right, Apple won’t have a huge inventory of MacBooks to sell this year due to limited supply. Another reason for the bottleneck is that the sales of Apple laptops have waned this year as users noticed that the M2 was a “limited computing power upgrade” over the M1 and offered no significant changes.
This explains why Apple has rushed to launch the M3 MacBooks despite the highest-end M2 Pro and M2 Max MacBooks coming out just 10 months prior. The company also views the event as an opportunity to boost investor confidence as its quarterly earnings call is just days after the event on October 30.
Kuo also suggests that if the M3-powered MacBooks fail to catch on, Apple will definitely introduce an all-new design for its laptops in 2025. Reports surfacing say that Apple is expanding its Mac division to release more budget-friendly MacBooks that can target annual sales of between 8 million and 10 million units.
No More Touch Bar
The controversial Touch Bar on MacBooks has long been forgotten but it is surprising to many that Apple still sells one laptop with the feature – the MacBook Pro 13-inch.
However, MacBooks will no longer have the feature as an option, as the forthcoming 13-inch Pro is keyboard-only and is powered by the baseline M3 chipset. Just like the iMac, customers will have the option to increase the number of graphics cores on the laptop
Since Apple is set to announce all three variants of the M3 at the event, it is likely that the company will beef up its cheapest available Macbook Pro to the M3 Pro chipset. This will put the laptop in the same bracket as the highest-end 14-inch and 16-inch Macbook Pros.
How and Where to Watch the ‘Scary Fast’ Event?
Apple’s upcoming Mac event is media and invite-only but the show will be broadcast live on the company’s YouTube channel. ‘Scary Fast’ starts at 8 PM Eastern Time (ET) on October 30, 2023.