Here we round up all the speculation surrounding the next iPad and iPad Pro models, together with some of our own thoughts about what super Apple tablet we might get during 2018 - possibly in the next couple of weeks at Apple's Field Trip event.
Next Apple iPad: Release date
- New iPad Pros not expected until summer 2018
- Could see refresh of standard 9.7-inch model in March 2018
The Apple iPad Pro 10.5 was announced at the company's developer conference, WWDC, in June 2017, along with a spec-updated iPad Pro 12.9. It is therefore likely we'll see any update to those models at the same time this year.
Apple's 2018 developer conference - WWDC 2018 - will take place at the beginning of June but before that Apple is doing an event on 27 March which is centred around education. Could there be a special education-orientated version of the iPad?
It's still likely to be a replacement to the standard 9.7-inch model rather than the Pro models.
Filipe Esposito of iHelpBR in Brazil has found mention in the new iOS 11.3 of a "Modern iPad". The iPhone X was referred to as "Modern iPhone" in earlier beta versions of iOS, so the finding is significant.
Next Apple iPad Pro: Design
- Slimmer bezels a possibility, especially for larger device
- Premium, slim build likely to remain
- Will the headphone jack stay or go?
Over the years the Apple iPad has seen quite a big change in design if you compare the original model to the current Pro models. Year-to-year though, only slight design changes are made, though this might change in the case of the 2018 models.
Apple reduced the iPad Pro 10.5's bezels by 40 per cent compared to the iPad Pro 9.7, meaning it is a very similar size to the smaller-screened model but with a 20 per cent larger display. It wouldn't surprise us to see Apple do the same for the 12.9-inch model, if there is one, but it's reported Apple will take things one step further.
As we mentioned, rumour has it the company is considering ditching the TouchID home button on the new iPad, replacing it with the FaceID system that launched on the iPhone X. Bloomberg reported that Apple plans to bring Animoji to the iPad as well.
Bezels are generally considered useful when it comes to physically holding a tablet, but there is no denying the slim-bezel renders that have appeared certainly do make for a more striking design. Although we're not expecting an iPhone X-style notch.
Whether Apple will retain the same premium, slim metal build the iPads are known or whether it will switch to glass like the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and iPhone X remains to be seen for now. We'd expect the Smart Connector to remain intact however and the four-speaker array but a removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack in favour of Lightning only is something we fully expect could happen for the next iPad Pro models.
Next Apple iPad Pro: Display
- 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch models expected
- 12.9-inch model could come with smaller footprint
- 120Hz refresh rate likely on both
The Apple iPad Pro is currently available in a 10.5-inch model and a 12.9-inch model, with the smaller model replacing the original 9.7-inch model that kickstarted the Pro line.
According to Bloomberg, the next iPad Pro model will offer a "similar" screen size as the 10.5-inch model, though the 12.9-inch model wasn't mentioned. If it does appear, we'd expect the same size slot into a smaller footprint. It is not yet clear whether Apple will switch to OLED like the iPhone X or stick with LCD, though the latter is expected due to "technical and financial constraints".
No doubt True Tone technology, adapting the colour and intensity of the display to match your environment, and the P3 wide colour gamut will both be on board, along with Apple Pencil compatibility and an anti-reflective coating.
In terms of resolution, the current iPad Pro 10.5 features a 2224 x 1668 resolution, while the iPad Pro 12.9 has a 2732 x 2048 resolution. Both result in a pixel density of 264ppi. It is not yet clear whether Apple will increase the resolution but both will likely support a 120Hz refresh rate as the current iPad Pro 10.5 does.
Next Apple iPad Pro: Cameras
- Face ID predicted for next iPad Pro models
- Improvements in camera likely
The next Apple iPad Pros are expected to be next in line to get Face ID, the facial recognition technology announced on the iPhone X that we mentioned briefly earlier.
Market analyst, Ming Chi-Kuo of KGI Securities is confident that new 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models, though he doesn't believe the front-facing TrueDepth camera will be included on other iPads, with it being reserved for the premium models instead like it is with the iPhones. This idea is supported by the Bloomberg report and some renders from Benjamin Geskin.
In terms of other camera specifications, nothing has been rumoured as yet. The current iPad Pro models have a 12-megapixel rear camera with a f/1.8 aperture, optical image stabilisation and a Quad-LED True Tone flash, while the front camera is 7-megapixels.
The iPhone X also has a 7-megapixel front sensor but it adds Face ID technology, as well as Animoji so should facial recognition come to the iPad Pros, we'd except the same resolution sensor as the current iPad Pro models but with the upgrades like the iPhone X.
Next Apple iPad Pro: Hardware
- A11 Bionic chip expected
- Storage models likely to remain same
- Four-speaker audio and Smart Connector expected
The current iPad Pros feature the A10X Fusion chip with 64-bit architecture and an embedded M10 coprocessor. The iPhone X features the A11 Bionic chip with neural engine and embedded M11 coprocessor so we'd expect this new processor to make its way onto the new iPad Pros next year.
Current storage options of the iPad Pro devices sit at 64GB, 256GB and 512GB, none of which offer microSD support for storage expansion. We'd expect the storage options to remain the same as they only changed this year and we'd also expect Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi and Cellular models of the new iPad Pros, as is the case at the moment.
As we mentioned in the design section above, the current iPad Pros come with four-speaker audio, which we expect to see on the new models. There is also the Smart Connector on the rear, used for connecting the Smart Keyboard, which we also expect on the new models.
We wouldn't be surprised to see the 3.5mm headphone jack disappear though, but if this does happen, as it has on the iPhones, it is likely Apple will include an adapter in the box.
Next Apple iPad Pro: Software
The next iPad Pros will launch on iOS 11, which is Apple's latest software build. The company usually announces the next software build at its developer conference in the middle of the year, which in 2018's case will be iOS 12, but it doesn't release the software until a few months later in September.
There were plenty of great features released specifically enhancing iPad functionality when iOS 11 was released though, including a new Files app for bringing all your files together, a new Dock for opening and switching between apps instantly, as well as better multi-tasking capabilities.
All these features will appear on the new iPad Pros, along with any new features announced for iOS 12. If the new iPad Pros are announced at WWDC 2018, we should know what those new features will be at the same time but we won't benefit from them a few months after the new iPads go on sale.
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