Tablet sales have gone off the boil, which explains why there were hardly any new ones in 2017. Even Apple appears to have ditched its smallest tablet with no new iPad mini for over two years, though it is still on sale.
But the iPad Pro range certainly isn't being ignored with a new 10.5in model introduced in June 2017 and a new, lower-cost iPad announced in spring 2018. Right now, rumours are spreading that Apple is gearing up to launch a new iPad Pro which borrows heavily from the iPhone X. Here's a summary of what to expect:
- New iPad Pro
- 10.5in or 11in edge-to-edge screen (not OLED)
- TrueDepth camera from iPhone X
- iOS 12
- No home button, screen notch
The image above is a concept produced by Martin Hajek, but we very much doubt Apple will go for the iPad X naming convention.
When is the iPad Pro 2018 release date?
Apple chose its developer conference in June to announce new iPads in 2017, but there was no new hardware announced at WWDC 2018. This suggests we'll be waiting until September for any iPad announcements.
However, Apple could shake things up and launch in over the summer. We'll just have to wait and see.
What new features will the iPad Pro 2018 have?
The first rumour came from a KGI Securities report. Ming-Chi Kuo, writing in autumn 2017 said that the next-generation iPad Pro would likely feature Face ID using the tech from the iPhone X.
Then, code was found in a beta version of iOS which refers to a 'modern iPad'. That's significant as modern was the code word used for the iPhone X.
Now, an iOS developer has discovered AvatarKit in the iOS 12 beta, again pointing to a 3D-scanning camera for the next iPad.
New in iOS 12: AvatarKit comes to iPad. Still requires a TrueDepth camera to do face tracking, though, i.e. an iPad with Face ID pic.twitter.com/9TvP2vsP6X— Steve Troughton-Smith (@stroughtonsmith) 3 July 2018
It makes sense to bring such a feature to the iPad, especially if Apple is going for the same all-screen design as the iPhone X, since it would necessitate a replacement for the home button, and that's where FaceID and the 3D-scanning camera comes in.
It would also mean the iPad Pro 3 should be able to take selfies with a depth effect.
CPU and hardware
Returning to the Bloomberg report, it says that the new iPads will probably include Apple's custom-designed GPU and AI chip which it first used in the iPhone 8 and X. Though, as in previous years, it will be a more powerful variant, likely to be named A11X Bionic.
It also states that Apple has been 'poaching' engineers from Qualcomm, which could well be to bolster its range of own-design chips.
Previously iPhones and iPads have used Qualcomm or Intel chips for Wi-Fi and LTE, so it's another area (like graphics) where Apple likely wants to eliminate the need to buy in chips from other suppliers.
No-one is quite sure exactly what size it will be, but some analysts are predicting 10.5in and a Chinese report says it will be 11in.
Everything points to an LED LCD screen rather than OLED, though there is no definitive reason why. We suspect it's a combination of factors: manufacturing cost and limited supply, predominantly.
Will there be a headphone jack or home button?
If the next iPad does have use FaceID for authentication, if follows that there won't be a home button.
And while the iPad Pro 2018 may not take every element from the iPhone X's design, it could spell the end for the 3.5mm headphone jack as well.
You'd think that losing the home button would take a long while to adjust to, but on the iPhone X you barely notice after a day or two.
Producing an iPad with no home button means the screen bezels can be reduced and it's also one less thing to go wrong: fewer buttons and ports are a good thing from a reliability standpoint.
Who knows, it could also pave the way for an IP rating and the first 'waterproof' iPad.
As and when more rumours surface, we'll be sure to update this article so keep it bookmarked.