As expected for more than a month, Apple has now officially confirmed that it will hold a special "Let us loop you in" product launch event on March 21.
The company sent out press invitations on March 10 to journalists announcing the keynote event, which will be held at 1 p.m. ET at Apple's Cupertino, Calif., headquarters. A live stream for the announcements will also be available to Apple device users and to Windows 10 users via Microsoft Edge.
Since early February, the speculation has been that Apple will unveil a smaller iPhone 5se and a smaller 9.7-inch iPad Pro at the event, as well as several new Apple Watch models. The date of the presentation and some of the expected product details have changed several times since the first reports began circulating, according to an earlier eWEEK story.
The iPhone5se is expected to be a special edition variation of the company's previous 4-inch iPhone 5s screen size. It won't be a smaller version of Apple's iPhone 6s, but is instead being built as an upgrade to the iPhone 5s that debuted in the fall of 2013.
Apple is planning the iPhone 5se as a smaller, more feature-laden phone to attract new buyers to a handset that won't take away sales from its larger flagship phones, while also encouraging iPhone 5 users to upgrade without having to move to one of the company's larger phones if they choose to carry a smaller phone, according to reports.
The 4-inch iPhone 5se would be smaller than the company's existing 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhone smartphones, giving customers more options.
Rumors call for the iPhone 5se to include upgrades in hardware and software as well as curved edges like those on the latest iPhone 6 and 6s devices, while the handset will retain the same 8-megapixel rear and 1.2-megapixel front camera systems used on the iPhone 6. A near-field communication (NFC) chip is also expected to allow the phone to use Apple Pay, and it will include camera support for larger panoramas and auto-focus for video recording. Also included will be faster, more powerful Apple A8 and M8 chips from the iPhone 6 and Bluetooth 4.2, voice over LTE (VoLTE) and 802.11ac WiFi chips from the iPhone 6s.
The expected price of the smaller 4-inch iPhone 5se will be in the $400 to $500 range, which is far less than the latest iPhone 6 models, which start at $649, according to reports.
The expected new iPad Pro is rumored to be a 9.7-inch version of the company's flagship, enterprise-focused 12.9-inch iPad Pro model. That means the iPad Pro will soon reportedly be offered in distinct 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch versions, just like Apple's MacBook Pro laptop machines are available in 13-inch and 15-inch models.
The diminutive iPad Pro is expected to include components that mimic its larger 12.9-inch iPad Pro brethren, including Apple's third-generation 64-bit A9X chip, which has two times the memory bandwidth of previous versions; quad stereo speakers; and support for the Apple Pencil, according to reports. Apple will also include the Smart Connector that is found in the larger iPad Pro and will offer a smaller version of its Smart Keyboard cover attachment for the smaller model.
Any future devices from Apple are certainly targeting increased revenue for the company, which is seeing sales slowdowns globally for some of its most popular products, such as iPhones and iPads, according to Apple's latest quarterly results, released Jan. 26. While Apple chalked up $75.9 billion in first-quarter revenue, a new record for the company, its sales of 74.7 million iPhones—little changed from the 74.5 million sold in the same quarter a year earlier—has analysts concerned, eWEEK reported recently.
First-quarter sales of iPads dropped to 16.1 million units from 21.4 million in the same quarter one year ago, while Mac sales slipped to 5.3 million this quarter, compared with 5.5 million one year ago.