Apple rumors and predictions: What to expect in 2016

BY Kelly Hodgkins

Published 5 Jan 2016

Apple Store logo
Apple had a banner year in 2015 with the launch of the iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, Apple Watch, Apple TV 4, iPad Pro and more. How will the company top this in 2016? From the iPad Air 3 to new iPhones, read on to find out what we expect from Apple in the coming year.

iPhone 6c (Early 2016)

Apple is rumored to be bringing back its small-screened phone option with a 4-inch display. It’s rumored to be a cross between the iPhone 5s and iPhone 6 with an aluminum body and iPhone 6-style curved glass screen. Hardware may include an A8 or A9 processor, an 8-megapixel camera, a 1,642mAh battery, Bluetooth 4.1 and NFC for Apple Pay. It may also be available in two or three color options with some suggesting Apple may draw inspiration from the colorful iPod touch line. The iPhone 6c could arrive in early 2016 with a formal announcement in March during the company’s rumored Spring event.

Apple Watch Force Touch

Apple Watch 2 (Early 2016)

Apple is expected to release the next version of the Apple Watch in early 2016. Rumors suggest the Apple Watch 2 may be thinner and feature some of the advanced sensors first rumored for the device. Also, on the list of possible features is a camera for Facetime calls and WiFi connectivity to allow it operate untethered. The Watch 2 could be announced as soon as March 2016 and hit retail shelves shortly after the announcement.

watch OS 3 (Early 2016)

watchOS powers the Apple Watch, so we expect Apple will update the watch software when it introduces new Watch hardware this spring. Other than the tentative launch date, there are no rumors about the changes Apple will bring to the software powering its wrist-worn device.

iPad Air 3 (Early to Mid-2016)

Apple last year updated the iPad mini 4 and released the iPad Pro, opting to keep the iPad Air 2 as its primary consumer iPad tablet for two years in a row. This flagship tablet is expected to see a highly-anticipated update in early to mid-2016. Little is known about the hardware upgrades Apple plans to introduce with the iPad Air 3, but it likely will boost performance and add new features to set the tablet apart from its competition.

image 12-inch MacBook Pro

MacBook (Early-Mid 2016)

Intel released its Skylake Core M processors that offer 10 hours of battery life, 40 percent graphics improvement and up to 20 percent faster performance than the Broadwell chips in the current retina MacBook. Look for Apple to add these new processors to the MacBook line sometime in early 2016. Apple likely won’t make any other changes to the MacBook since the device is only a year old.

Retina MacBook Pro (Early-Mid 2016)

The update for Retina MacBook Pro remains very much up in the air with the timing of the refresh dependent on Intel. The chip giant is planning an early 2016 release for its Skylake notebook chipsets, including the Skylake U-Series 28-watt chips, which are suitable for the 13-inch MacBook Pro and the beefier 45-watt H-Series chips which are compatible with the 15-inch Macbook Pro. The exact timing of the releases are not known and it is possible Intel will stagger them. Apple likely will release their updates shortly after Intel debuts its new chipsets, even if that means the company is forced to release a new 13-inch MacBook Pro ahead of the 15-inch version.

image MacBook Air

MacBook Air (Early-Mid 2016)

When Apple unveiled the new 12-inch MAcBook, many people assumed this was the end of the line for the MacBook Air. Recent rumors cast doubt on that assumption and suggest Apple fully intends to continue the MacBook Air line.  Intel is preparing to release a new series of Skylake processors suitable for the MacBook Air in 2016, so we expect Apple will adopt these chipsets shortly after they are released. Rumors suggest Apple may target a late 2015 release, but the company in the past has refreshed the MacBook Air early in the year. Other rumors hint at a thinner and faster MacBook Air that is available in both a 13-inch and a new 15-inch version.

iPhone 7 and 7 Plus (Late 2016)

Keeping with its yearly upgrade cycle, Apple is expected to introduce the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus in late 2016. Apple has hit the sweet spot and will keep the same screen 5.5-inch and 4.7-inch screen sizes. Details on the hardware and design changes are not known, but, based on previous revisions, we can expect to see a slimmer phone, faster processor, improved camera and new features that move the phone beyond its current iteration. It’s possible Apple may ditch aluminum and replace with a new waterproof polymer frame and boost RAM in the device to 2GB for the iPhone 7 and 3GB for the 7 Plus.

iOS 10 (Late 2016)

Every year at WWDC, Apple unveils a new version of iOS that debuts alongside the company’s latest iPhone in the fall. This year Apple is expected to take the wraps off iOS 10. After two years of feature-filled updates with iOS 8 and iOS 9, Apple may choose to focus more on design with iOS 10. Details are still sparse, but we expect that to change as the rumor mills kick in before WWDC in June.


OS X 10.12 (Late 2016)

Similar to iOS, OS X also is in a yearly upgrade path with OS X 10.12 debuting in the fall of 2016. Last year’s OS X El Capitan contained most bug fixes along with a few minor feature improvements. Because El Capitan was more of a maintenance release, we expect OS X 10.12 to include more new features and innovations. Look for OS X 10.12 to follow the same path as OS X 10.11 — introduction at WWDC followed by a launch in September or October of 2106.

tvOS 10 (Late 2016)

Apple’s plans for tvOS are unclear at this time. The company has released a few minor updated to tvOS, but it is not known whether Apple will release major updates each year like it does with iOS, OS X and watchOS. If Apple adopts a yearly update cycle, we expect to see a new version of tvOS this fall.


iMac (Late 2016)

Apple last refreshed the iMac in October 2015 and according to its yearly upgrade cycle, the company could refresh the device a year later in late 2016. Details on what new features Apple may add and the hardware changes it would make are unclear. Some of this uncertainty can be attributed to Intel, which is not introducing a new Skylake processor with integrated Iris or Iris Pro graphics processors. This decision by Intel could impact the low-end iMac models, which utilize integrated graphics to keep costs affordable. Apple may make a change to its overall iMac lineup by opting to discontinue the 21.5-inch non-retina iMac model as it transitions to an all-retina lineup.

Other Predictions

iPad Pro 2

Apple introduced the iPad Pro in 2015 and were likely not going to release a significant upgrade to the device in the coming year. Apple may choose to boost the processor or introduce new software features, but the devices upgrade path is not clear right now. We will have to wait until later this year to see what rumors pan out.

Apple TV's tvOS

Apple TV 5

Apple typically has had a long upgrade cycle for the Apple TV, allowing the existing version to exist for several years at a time. Apple introduced the Apple TV 4 in 2015, so we may not see a new Apple TV in 2016. The APple TV 5 likley will include a processor upgrade and other new features when it does come out.

iPad mini 5

Apple started staggering the upgrades on the iPad, opting to upgrade the iPad mini to version 4 in 2015, while keeping the iPad Air at version 2. We expect this trend to continue with Apple releasing the Air 3 in 2016 while possibly waiting to unveil the mini 5 until 2017.

Mac Pro

Apple’s high-end Mac desktop was overhauled in 2013 and may see some changes in 2016, based on the device’s two to three-year upgrade cycle. Apple likely will keep the same form factor for the device, opting to introduce small changes in hardware specs as Intel releases new high-end Xeon processors in 2016. If Apple does refresh the Mac Pro, it likely won’t be released until later this year

New Mac mini

The Apple Mac mini was updated with Haswell processors and other features such a Thunderbolt port in 2014. The company typically updates the mini every one to two years so it is possible we will see a similar refresh in 2016. If Apple chooses to update the mini, it likely will do so alongside the MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro, with all three devices receiving the new Intel U-series Skylake chips from Intel.

We can’t wait to see what Apple has in store for us for 2016. Which Apple product or products are you waiting for the most?