Apple may be launching its next iPad very soon – perhaps as soon as this month. But will it be an iPad, an iPad Air or an iPad Pro? Will it come with improved accessory options? And when will the rumored upgraded screen technology arrive?
Here’s everything we know so far…
Update 03/03: In relation to the case revealed by @BenGeskin, others are now appearing, some from well-established companies such as Pad & Quill, which seem to corroborate Ben Geskin’s version. Read more below about the cases which suggest that the multiple cameras are coming, and soon.
Also, it appears that one of Apple’s main suppliers of camera modules, LG Innotek has closed because of Coronavirus fears. If the closure is brief, this won’t prevent the next iPad Pro cameras from being made, but if it stays shut longer or closes repeatedly, that could affect the supply chain. Stay tuned.
Update 03/05: The latest report from Bloomberg points to stock shortages or sold-out status in the U.S., Europe and Australia for some models of iPad Pro. Read below for details but essentially there are likely two reasons for this. One could be, can you guess? Yes, Coronavirus Covid-19. But it’s also possible that Apple is winding down its inventory of the iPad Pro because, as has been predicted, a new model is very nearly upon us. Read full details here and a full synopsis down below.
Update 03/07: Another new keyboard accessory is being considered. According to Apple Insider, a new patent suggests a whole new way for the iPad to connect to a keyboard accessory. Instead of the Smart Connector now found on all iPads apart from the Mini, the touchscreen would be the point of contact. In the patent, the system suggested is that the keyboard would have a flap that touches against the display and clamps the iPad in place. Contacts in the flap would be spaced along the edge of the screen, connected to individual keys. Tap on the keys and the contact tells the iPad which one you’re touching. Of course, it does reduce the screen real estate a little, as the connector needs to cover part of the display to make contact with it, but this isn’t too serious.
The patent was filed in 2019, so a compatible keyboard accessory could be in the works now. And since the system works because of software as well as hardware, it’s possible it could work with any tablet, not just Apple’s, assuming the app is configured for it. Despite this, it’s my guess that this radically different keyboard will not be ready in time for the release of the iPad Pro expected later this month. But you never know…
When will the next Apple iPad be released?
The last iPad Apple upgraded was the entry-level iPad, back in September 2019. Apple is fond of symmetry so it may be that the next iPad will go on sale in March or early April this year, mirroring the Spring release of the first iPad in 2010. I’m sure one of the iPad range will be updated this month which leads to the next question…
Which iPad will it be?
Since in September Apple increased the size of the display for the first time from 9.7in to 10.2 in, though this means it’s still the smallest display on an iPad other than the iPad mini. So, it’s unlikely that the next iPad update will be as soon as this Spring. The last time Apple added a new iPad in less than a year was the switch from third-generation to fourth, and that led to some bad press because many felt to upgrade after six months was too soon.
The mini was also updated relatively recently, so that leaves iPad Air and iPad Pro. Equally likely are the iPad Pro and iPad Air. Personally, I’m leaning more towards the iPad Air, but it’s not a shoo-in.
Recently, it was reported by MacRumors that analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has predicted that, along with the new iPhone SE 2, Ultra Wideband AirTags and high-end headphones, that the next iPad Pro will be revealed in the first half of 2020. That probably points to March as well, as Apple doesn’t regularly release hardware at the World Wide Developers Conference held in June.
What will be new if there’s a Spring iPad Pro? Rumor 1: Triple-lens camera
One rumor, from Steve H McFly, AKA @OnLeaks, hints at a triple-lens camera on the back of the tablet, matching the camera of that other pro, the iPhone 11 Pro. This has now been corroborated by the reliable Ben Geskin (@BenGeskin) who has revealed likely iPad Pro cases with the same shaped-cut-out as the cameras found on the iPhone 11 Pro. Though, please note, that shape is also on the iPhone 11, so it’s just possible this could be a twin-camera, or twin-camera plus Time-of-Flight sensor, instead. Read more about this rumor here.
The ergonomics of the iPad mean that when used as a camera it requires careful handling and relies on optical image stabilization to make the images look good. Talking of looking good, they look great on the large screen, which also works as a tremendous way of framing your photos before you click.
Update: In recent days, more cases have come to light, some from high-end companies like Pad & Quill. MacRumors has been trying the cases out for size and has reported interesting results. Assuming these cases are correct, they indicate there’s no change of design between the current iPad Pro and the next one. This is expected. It means the new cases snugly fit the models on sale now. But additionally, all the cases that have been tried show the same distinctive square cut-out where multiple cameras would sit.
In other words, that camera bump matching the size and shape of the iPhone 11 or iPhone 11 Pro now seems more likely than ever.
What will be new if there’s a Spring iPad Pro? Rumor 2:
If there is a Time-of-Flight camera and advanced lenses, then the Augmented Reality features that Apple has been promoting in recent years could benefit here, too.
Time-of-Flight is the special kind of camera using LED or laser to near-instantly measure the environment in 3D. It can also benefit photo effects like portrait mode.
One recent rumor, as reported by MacRumors, is that the next iPad Pro will include a time-of-flight sensor.
Spring iPad Pro Seems Increasingly Likely
Update: Stocks of iPad Pro running low.
The latest rumor comes from Bloomberg, which has spotted low or non-availability of some models of iPad Pro in a lot of places. One store showing a low stock wouldn’t mean much, but there are shortages in Australia, Europe and the U.S. Indeed, some models of iPad Pro are completely sold out in places like Los Angeles Apple Stores or locations in New York.
So, what does this mean? It could be the Coronavirus Covid-19 which has affected component manufacture and delivery across China. It could be that the latest deliveries of iPad Pro models have been held up by that.
Or it could be Apple’s immaculate stock control coming into play, to ensure there are no current iPad Pro models left when the next is announced. If so, it seems to confirm several things: the next iPad to be revealed is very nearly here, that iPad will be an iPad Pro and it will replace the current model rather than sit alongside it. There have also been shortages suggesting AirPod Pro headphones have been in short supply, but to be honest, when haven’t they been? And the fact that the Apple Watch has been in shorter supply is less likely to indicate a new Watch – although rumors persist of a new PRODUCT(RED) Apple Watch, which would be pretty cool. You can read more on this story here.
Smart keyboard upgrade
The latest rumors are both about an iPad Pro smart keyboard. This is currently a neat keyboard and smart cover combo. It has wonderfully comfortable and responsive keys and is connected through what Apple calls a smart connector. This makes it better than Bluetooth keyboards because there’s no delay before it starts responding your touch and there are no batteries to be replaced because it’s powered by the iPad.
It seems a serious upgrade is coming. You can read the first rumor here, but the standout features are that it will have scissor-switch keys, that is, the mechanism will be upgraded to match the Magic Keyboard on the latest MacBook Pro 16in laptop (read my review of that here).
Oh, and the keys will be backlit, which will be fantastic. It’s likely it will only be on the iPad Pro at first, but further keyboard attachments for the iPad Air and iPad could follow.
There’s also been another rumor in the past few days, suggesting the release of a keyboard with an important extra feature: a trackpad. This would mean the iPad Pro would be even more like a laptop than ever. It’s not clear if this accessory would arrive in the Spring or Fall. A Fall release would tie in with the arrival of iPadOS 14, so this seems a strong possibility.
Read full details here.
Will the next iPad Pro have an 13X or A14X processor?
Apple introduced the A series of chips with the very first iPad back in 2010, when Steve Jobs said, “And it’s all our own silicon.” It was a detail overlooked in much coverage, but it has become more central to Apple’s story since. The numbering has updated each year with, occasionally, the next processor landing on the iPad before the iPhone. On the iPad, the processor number is often suffixed with an X.
The iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max all use the same processor, the A13 Bionic. So, the next iPad Pro could use the A13X but, dependent on the timing, move forwards to the A14X.
Currently, the entry-level iPad has the A10 processor, the iPad Air has the A12 Bionic and the iPad Pro the A12X. My gut feeling is the next iPad Pro will have the A13X.
But Apple is pushing the iPad Pro as something way more powerful than most laptops. Ming-Chi Kuo has mentioned A14X but says he expects it to be end-2020. This does raise the possibility that the next iPad Pro won’t be until the Fall, with trackpad-mounted keyboard – I can’t see two iPads Pro in one year.
When will iPad switch to mini LED display?
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has repeatedly suggested that Apple will move the display technology in the iPad from LCD to mini LED. Kuo had predicted the iPad and MacBook screens could be mini LED from 2020 or 2021 and , a more recent rumor has him saying that late 2020 is more likely, again pointing to a Fall reveal, not Spring, for the next Pro tablet.
Mini LED, like OLED, is a system where each pixel is individually lit, with great contrast levels and rich colors, but avoiding the burn-in risks which come with OLED. This matters less on an iPhone where the screen is constantly changing what it’s showing, but more for a screen that’s not moving or has static elements such as a menu bar on a MacBook display, say.
The most recent rumor comes from the Taiwanese Economic Daily News and suggests a shift to mini LED could come in the second half of the year, adding weight to the idea that a Fall iPad Pro could come with a whole new kind of display. Read about this rumor here.
When will the first iPad have 5G?
While it seems increasingly certain that the first 5G iPhones will be released in the Fall, it’s less clear what’s happening about the iPad connectivity. The first 4G connectivity was on an iPad, not an iPhone, so it’s possible that 5G could appear on the tablet first.
However, while other phone manufacturers have plumped for 5G connections, I think Apple will wait until the Fall for the first 5G iPhone with the first 5G iPad to follow in October, perhaps.
Those are all the latest iPad and iPad rumors for now. Please check back as I’ll be updating this post regularly in the run-up to the releases of tablets in 2020.
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