Apple looks to redefine what Pro means in 2018.
How does Apple put the Pro back in the iPad Pro? According to the rumors, we’ll soon find out.
When the company debuted the latestin March, adding , it whittled down the gap between the entry-level tablet and its Pro siblings. Starting at $329 (£319 or AU$469), the base iPad now offers many of the premium features that were previously exclusive to the considerably more expensive and .
For the moment, those Pro models still retain exclusive rights to the superior Retina display and Smart Connector, which lets you add a snap-on keyboard. But a chorus of pundits and supply chain sources now suggest that Apple will look to redefine the iPad Pro line — and justify its higher price — with a big-time update before the end of 2018.
Though Apple hasn’t announced anything officially (or responded to repeated inquiries), there’s growing buzz about new Pro models surfacing later this year. Here’s what we’ve heard so far.
Editors’ note, Aug. 23: This post was originally published on March 21, 2018, and will continue to be updated with news and rumors on the 2018 iPad lineup.
Rumor: A new iPad Pro this fall
Bloomberg has reported that Apple is prepping at least one new iPad Pro for the second half of 2018, though we expect to see refreshes of both the 10.5- and 12.9-inch models. When Apple failed to show any new hardware at its developer’s conference in June, speculation immediately shifted to the September-October timeframe as the next best opportunity for a debut.
There are precedents. Apple could bring out a new iPad Pro alongsidewe expect to see in September. The , for instance, debuted in September 2015 alongside that year’s iPhones. Or it could happen a few weeks later — the and were both introduced in a standalone Mac/iPad event in October 2014. (Sure, November is also a possibility, but Apple has never debuted a new iPad in December.)
Rumor: Taking design cues from the iPhone X
Mac Otakara and 9to5Mac are reporting that the forthcoming iPad Pros will benefit from a major redesign and integrate several new features that first appeared on the iPhone X last year. An iPad battery usage icon found in Apple’s iOS 12 beta suggests that the upcoming models will look quite a bit different — with no Home button, slimmer bezels, rounded corners and a bigger display. And the iPhone X’s rounded corners may also find their way onto the next iPad Pro, according to 9to5Mac.com.
Rumor: Face ID is coming
Those icons also show no notch — despite reports by Bloomberg that the iPhone X’s facial recognition system, , may find its way into future iPads. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has also suggested that the TrueDepth camera array is coming in this next generation. And the thought is that the iPad would enough bezel real estate that Apple could implement the technology without the type of notch found on the iPhone X.
Rumor: 3.5mm headphone jack going away
Mac Otakara reports that the forthcoming iPad Pro — at least the 10.5-inch model — will dispense with the traditional headphone jack in favor of Apple’s own Lightning Connector.
Rumor: Faster charging
DigiTimes has reported that the next iPad Pro will come with an 18-watt USB-C power adapter. The current-generation Pro models currently support the 18-watt spec, which can reduce charging time by 50 percent, but Apple ships them with a 10-12-watt adapter.
Don’t expect iPhone-style wireless charging, though. No one seriously expects the metallic rear panel in the iPad to go away, and that more or less prevents inductive charging.
Likely: Performance bumps
The new entry-level iPad is powered by the 2016-era A10 processor, putting it just a half-step behind the iPad Pros, which run the A10X. But considering that the 2017 iPhones run the A11, and the presumed 2018 iPhones will have an A12, it only makes sense that newer iPad Pros would have an A11 or A11X, at the very least. Bloomberg suggested back in November that the next iPads would have faster processors and GPUs, which have become a key component of almost every upgrade cycle.
Rumor: Probably no OLED display
One iPhone X feature that is unlikely to pop up in an iPad anytime in 2018 is an OLED display, according to Bloomberg. Not because Apple wouldn’t like to use them. It’s that suppliers simply don’t yet have the bandwidth to produce them at the size and cost in the massive numbers required to address Apple’s massive market. (That’s the same reason the laptops with OLED screens are still few and far between.)
Rumor: Peace out, iPad Mini
Speaking of iPhones: With September’s iPhone line— possibly a 6.5-inch model — it feels like the iPad Mini line just isn’t long for this world. Apart from a minor storage capacity upgrade in June 2017, the current Mini 4, with its 7.9-inch screen, hasn’t been updated since its introduction in 2015. But it’s more expensive than the 9.7-inch iPad because Apple sells only a 128GB version. Given that delivers considerably more — i.e. a bigger screen, Pencil support and better performance — at a lower price, it’s hard to envision that much demand remains for the Mini.