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Roundup Tablets

iPad Pro 2018: All the rumors on specs, price, release date

Having refreshed the entry-level iPad, Apple looks to redefine the iPad Pro.

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

Benjamin Geskin/iDrop News

With the addition of Pencil support and a faster processor, the new entry-level 2018 Apple iPad edges that much closer to its premium siblings. Apple will look to redefine the iPad Pro line -- and justify its higher price -- with a big-time update later this year, according to the rumors. And though Apple hasn't announced anything officially, there's buzz about new Pro models surfacing at WWDC 2018, scheduled to kick off in San Jose on June 4.

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The 2018 iPad.

James Martin

Before we move on to what we're hearing about the future of the Pro line, a recap of what's new and noteworthy with the new entry-level iPad:

  • Same starting price as the previous generation -- $329 (£319 in the UK, AU$469 in Australia), with a $30 discount for schools.
  • Adds support for Apple's stylus, the Pencil, which still costs $99 (£89 or AU$145) at retail and $89 for students. 
  • Steps up to A10 processor, which powers the iPhone 7.
  • Still no Smart Connector for snap-on keyboards (this remains exclusive to the Pro models).
  • Lacks the better screen (laminated, with ProMotion support and TrueTone support) found on Pro models.
  • Same dimensions and design as the 2017 iPad, so it should be compatible with all existing accessories.
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That new 2018 iPad replaces the similar entry-level 9.7-inch iPad that debuted in March 2017. The line is filled out by gorgeous 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pros that were released in June, as well as the diminutive iPad Mini 4, which lives on despite its aging A8 processor.

Apple hasn't officially confirmed that more new iPads are coming in 2018. All of this remains speculative. But read on for a rundown of what we've heard so far.

Editors' note: 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: New iPad Pros at WWDC

Bloomberg has reported that a new version of the 10.5-inch model would likely not be ready for release until the second half of the year. If Apple is planning to upgrade the higher-end models this summer, it would make sense that it's following the 2017 schedule again: a new entry-level iPad release in March followed by a Pro line upgrade in June. 

>> Follow CNET's coverage of WWDC 2018 here

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Concept renders of an iPad Pro.

Benjamin Geskin/Drop News



Rumor: Face ID is coming

When Apple debuted a handful of innovative features on the iPhone X last November, we immediately wondered which of them would migrate to the iPad lineup. Since then, Bloomberg has reported that the phone's facial recognition system, Face ID, may indeed find its way into future iPads. And analyst Ming-Chi Kuo -- who, like Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, has a mostly excellent track record on correctly predicting Apple hardware details --- believes that Apple will add the TrueDepth camera array that powers Face ID to iPad Pro models in 2018, according to MacRumors.

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Rumor: Bye-bye, home button

Once Face ID comes to the iPad, it opens the door for Apple to eliminate the tablet's home button and Touch ID. And that, in turn, allows for some design optimizations, including slimmer edges on the top and bottom of the device, echoing the aesthetic of the iPhone X (with or without the telltale notch).

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Benjamin Geskin/iDrop News


Likely: Performance bumps 

The new entry-level iPad is powered by the 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: Probably no wireless charging

Both the iPhone and Apple Watch have wireless charging, and the feature is rumored to be coming to the AirPods as well. But don't look for it on new iPads anytime soon. So long as they keep their metal-backed design, wireless charging would be an unlikely upgrade.

Rumor: Bye-bye, iPad Mini

Speaking of iPhones: With September's iPhone line rumored to include larger versions of the iPhone X -- 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 the new 9.7-incher 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. 

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