Lucas Matney, for TechCrunch:
The iPhone SE died. The iPad Mini was last upgraded in 2015. The 11-inch MacBook Air died years ago. The smaller Series 4 Apple Watch has a bigger display than the larger Series 3 Apple Watch.
Apple’s smallest devices are slowly getting bigger and the company’s events don’t suggest those ambitions are going to stop. While the release of the truly monstrous 6.5” iPhone XS Max last month embodies this trend in the most readily apparent way, the way Apple has emphasized external displays on its new iPad Pro and its MacBook Pro line are perhaps more telling of the company’s future ambitions, a world where displays are boundless.
If you’re thinking that Apple can only make displays so much bigger while reducing the sizes of the device, there’s a lot further they can take this.
Apple’s wants bigger displays.
The old iPad Pro was perhaps too big; it’s massive form factor was great for creative tasks but it was one of the most niche devices Apple had released in recent years. The company’s new 12.9” iPad Pro reaches for the edges more but shrinks its overall footprint in the process, turning the somewhat novelty device into what I imagine will be a much more palatable mainstream product. The smaller Pro jumped from 10.5” to 11” while maintaining an overall size similar to its predecessor.
Much in the way that the iPhone 6S Plus was the “big” phone when it came out with a 5.5″ display, and consumers buying it were making that choice for themselves, Apple is shaping the new-normal. The 5.8″ iPhone XS and 6.5″ iPhone XS Max show that. With the new Apple Watch Series 4, Apple made the decision to make the devices bigger, bumping the 38mm and 42mm watches up to 40mm and 44mm sizes. The upgrade signified that Apple felt that even its biggest tiny display was still too small.
One of the other big changes on the new iPad Pros was the use of USB-C and a big reason Apple was fine ditching its proprietary port is that it really wanted to enable the device to drive 5K external displays. Apple wants the device to be at the heart of creatives’ workflows but it still sees its display size as a limiting factor.
Today we also saw Apple make a number of big improvements to the 13.3” MacBook Air that seem to overshadow the 12” MacBook in major ways, throwing into question whether the 12″ device is too small a form factor for Apple to continue supporting. And while the company no longer sells a 17-inch MacBook Pro, their latest 15-inch MacBook Pro was built to power up to four 4K displays so that should tell you quite a bit about where the company is moving.