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Roundup Tablets

New iPad Pro 2018: All the rumors on specs, price, possible October debut

It ghosted the big Sept. 12 iPhone event, but the next iPad Pro could come as soon as next month.

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There's buzz about a major redesign coming to the iPad Pro in 2018. 

Alvaro Pabesio

Apple made waves with its Sept. 12 unveiling of the new iPhone XS and XS Max, the soon-to-be-released iPhone XR and Apple Watch 4. But if you believe the rumors -- and we do (at least some of them) -- there may be more new Apple products just a few weeks away.

Multiple sources report that Apple will introduce a new iPad Pro before the end of 2018. And according to the rumors, it may have a handful of new features -- including a new version of Face ID and a USB-C connection -- in addition to a significant redesign. 

When the company debuted the latest iPad in March, adding Pencil support and a faster processor, 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 10.5-inch Pro and 12.9-inch Pro

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 the year. 

Though Apple hasn't announced anything officially, there's a huge amount of buzz about two new Pro models surfacing before the end of 2018. Here's what we've heard so far:

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Editors' note, Sept. 21: This post was originally published on March 21, and will continue to be updated with news and rumors on the 2018 iPad lineup.  

Rumor: New iPad Pros coming in October?

With the new iPad Pro a no-show at the big Sept. 12 event, we're left to read the tea leaves for Apple's next possible opportunity for a debut. The first-gen 12.9-inch iPad Pro was announced in September 2015, followed by the 9.7-inch version in March 2016. The second generation dropped at Apple's WWDC conference in June 2017.  

But the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 were both introduced in a combined Mac and iPad event in October 2014. It's easy to envision another such event this October featuring both the rumored new MacBook Air and a new iPad Pro or two. (Sure, November is also a possibility, but Apple has never debuted a new iPad in December.)

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Concept renders of an iPad Pro.

Benjamin Geskin/Drop News

Rumor: Apple preparing two new iPad Pros 

Bloomberg reports that Apple is prepping two new tablets for late 2018 -- one that measures "around 11 inches," which could be the rough equivalent of the current 10.5-inch model, and a 12.9-inch model. Previously, the publication had reported that Apple was working on at least one new iPad Pro, the 10.5-inch model.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

Rumor: Taking design cues from the iPhone X

Mac Otakara and 9to5Mac report that the forthcoming iPad Pros will benefit from a major redesign and integrate several new features that first appeared on the first-gen 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.

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The old iPad icon (left) vs. the new iPad icon found in the iOS 12 beta. 

9to5Mac

Rumor: Face ID 2.0 is coming 

Notice that there's no notch on those icons, however. This suggests that either the next iPad Pro won't have the Face ID facial recognition system -- or that Apple has figured out how to implement it sans notch. 

A growing pile of (unofficial) evidence supports the latter. Developer Steve Troughton-Smith, who has discovered many Apple products and features before they were officially announced, says that the iOS 12 beta shows that future iPads will have Face ID -- and that it will also be able to unlock the device even in landscape mode, something that even the new 2018 iPhones can't do today. (Bloomberg has also reported on this.) Although the forthcoming iPad Pro is rumored to have a slimmer bezel, it appears to be wide enough to accommodate the TrueDepth camera array that powers Face ID. 

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Rumor: Faster charging

Troughton-Smith has also found evidence that suggests that the new iPad may have a USB-C connection. This bolsters an earlier prediction by Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo that Apple will shift to an 18-watt USB-C power adaptor as well as previous reporting by DigiTimes

The current-generation Pro models currently support the 18-watt spec, which can reduce charging time by 50 percent, but Apple ships them today with a 10-12-watt adapter. If true, this would mark a dramatic shift for Apple, which has used the Lightning connector broadly across its hardware lineup since its introduction in 2012.

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Apple's AirPower wireless charging pad.

CNET

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.

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. And there's plenty of momentum in this direction: when Apple announced the iPhone XS, XS Max and XR it also stopped selling the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, iPhone 6S and 6S Plus and iPhone SE -- meaning that the last iPhones to come with a headphone jack are gone.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

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 new trio of 2018 iPhones use the A12 Bionic, 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.

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The iPad may take cues from the first-gen iPhone X, inside and out. 

CNET

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 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

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Benjamin Geskin/iDrop News

Speaking of iPhones: With September's iPhone line introducing the 6.5-inch iPhone XS Max, it feels like the iPad Mini line just isn't long for this world. Bloomberg reports that the Mini will not be refreshed this year -- and we have to wonder whether it will ever come.

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 the new 9.7-incher delivers considerably more -- a bigger screen, Pencil support and better performance -- at a lower price, it's hard to envision that much demand remains for the Mini. 

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