Even though Apple unveiled a brand-new iPad in September, we're hearing rumors that the company may introduce more new tablets in the coming months. And, given that Apple has already brought out new versions of the iPad, iPad Air and iPad Mini in 2019, it's likely that an update to the iPad Pro -- last refreshed in October 2018 -- is what's on deck. Unless, of course, the company decides to dish up something from left field (like Microsoft's Surface Neo).
To recap: On Sept. 10, Apple introduced the newest iPad, keeping the entry-level price at $329 but slightly enlarging the display, adding a keyboard dock connector and -- well, that was about it. Before that, back in March, the company unveiled two new models -- the modestly updated iPad Air and iPad Mini. But it's been nearly a year since the company last refreshed its iPad Pro lineup, leading to speculation that new versions may be waiting in the wings.
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Credible sources, including Bloomberg's Mark Gurman and Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, both of whom have accurately predicted launch dates for previous Apple products, have filed reports about forthcoming iPad Pros. And, of course, the usual cohort of internet leakers, code-exploring developers and professional renderers have also weighed in with their own predictions, grainy images and clues uncovered from deep within the iPadOS beta code. Apple, as usual, did not respond to a request for comment. Nevertheless, undaunted, we've rounded up the most interesting and plausible rumors below.
Rumor: New iPad Pro coming in Q4 2019 or Q1 2020
Until the invitations are sent, we won't know for sure exactly when Apple plans to unveil the next-generation iPad Pro. Until recently, most of the rumors had called it for the fourth quarter of 2019, which would make sense, given that Apple delivered the last batch of Pros in October 2018. The newest intel from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, however, has pushed that timeline out a bit; his newest report suggests that the company will unveil the next Pro model sometime during the first half of 2020, according to MacRumors.
Rumor: The new iPad Pro will have serious camera technology
The most significant -- and perhaps the only -- major design difference coming with the next iPad Pro is the camera. We've seen a number of reports predicting the addition of a triple-lens array, similar to the one on the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max. But the trio of cameras isn't the whole story. Previously rumored to be in development for implementation on the 2020 iPhone, new information suggests that Apple's next-generation "time-of-flight" camera technology may instead debut on the next version of the iPad Pro.
Bloomberg has reported that the technology -- which extends the scanning range of the current iPhone's front-facing camera from 20 inches up to 15 feet, and applies it to the rear-facing lens -- will be a key component of the company's forthcoming augmented reality applications, which may also involve a dedicated headset.
Rumor: The new iPad Pro will have a mini-LED display
Kuo has also predicted that the new iPad will have an LED screen supplied by Epistar, a leading Taiwanese display manufacturer. According to MacRumors, which published an article about the report, the "Mini-LED" display accommodates a "thinner and lighter" footprint and can produce image quality that's even higher than that generated by the OLED panels on the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max. And here's a stat for you: according to Kuo, "the future iPad and MacBook displays will each use approximately 10,000 LEDs, compared to 576 in Apple's upcoming Pro Display XDR." Sounds bright.
Rumor: New iPad Pros coming in 10-inch and 12-inch sizes
For the first time since it launched in 2010, in September Apple bumped up the display size of its flagship iPad, going from the traditional 9.7 inches to a slightly larger 10.2-inch screen for the 2019 edition. As my colleague Dan Ackerman put it, "The shift further erodes the line between the standard iPad and the much more expensive iPad Pro, pitched by Apple as a true laptop replacement." Nevertheless, we don't expect Apple to make changes to screen size for the 2019 Pro line. Kuo's latest report suggests that Apple intends to stick with the 11- and 12.9-inch sizes with the two next Pro models.
Rumor: The iPad Pro will probably have the A13 processor
Apple introduced the A13 processor in September, building it into each of its three new phones for 2019. In the iPhone, at least, CNET's Scott Stein found the new processor to be "a bit faster in single tasking, and a bigger leap in multitasking. Graphics performance, in theory, looks great, coming closer to last year's iPad Pro." And we expect Apple to follow tradition, graduating the next Pro models to the A13 chip -- especially since the A12X Bionic processor, first used in the iPhone XS and 2018 iPad Pro, has now been deployed in the less expensive iPad Mini.
Rumor: The next iPad Pro will be even pricier
If either -- or both -- of the rumors about the time-of-flight camera and LED display are accurate, the next iPad Pros could be more expensive than the current models, which are already no bargain, starting at $799 and $999, respectively. The 15% tariff on Chinese goods that took effect in the US on Sept. 1 could also nudge prices upwards, despite Apple's insistence that it has taken precautionary measures to mitigate the impact on customers.
That noted, Apple has managed to keep prices fairly consistent from generation to generation for the remainder of its tablet lineup, despite adding higher-quality displays, more advanced camera technology and ever-more powerful processors.
Rumor: iPhone and Mac apps coming to the iPad in 2021
On Oct. 7, Apple released Project Catalyst, which -- in theory -- lets developers more easily bring their iPad apps to Mac computers. This is the first step in a rather dramatic new strategy for Apple that involves using its own custom Arm-based processors in its computers (instead of Intel chips) in order to let developers create a single version of their apps that'll work across Apple's various operating systems on the iPhone, iPad and Mac. That change will take place sometime in 2021, according to both Bloomberg and Axios.