The acclaimed iPad Pro line-up kicked off in 2015 when Apple unveiled the super-sized 12.9-inch version. To many, this marked the tech giant’s surprising entry into the 2-in-1 industry, mainly because the tablet debuted alongside two new accessories: a stylus dubbed ‘The Pencil’ and a magnetically attached Smart Keyboard that doubled as a cover.
Still, the first iPad Pro wasn’t as wholeheartedly received as Apple had envisioned. Besides the large size, it was fundamentally an iPad, with little PC functionality. Add that to being the most expensive tablet on the market, and what you get are weak sales and lukewarm reception.
It, therefore, wasn’t surprising when Apple released the 9.7-inch cheaper version of the iPad Pro last year. The new gadget combined many of its big brother’s virtues with a smaller footprint and a better camera to produce a near-perfect balance of portability and performance.
However, although critics and Apple fans were happy and the 9.7-inch iPad did much better in the sales department, the new release still failed to match the bold dominance that its predecessors had enjoyed.
We’re now well into 2017 and, while Apple is yet to announce an upcoming iPad officially, we know they’re hard at work. Consequently, the expectations are overwhelming and gossip is brewing.
To give you a picture of what is coming with the next iPad Pro 2 release, here are the latest rumors.
The most optimistic forecast predicts an iPad release next month. Apple typically holds its first event of the year in March and, in the past, the Cupertino company has used this event to release cutting-edge devices like the iPhone SE and the 9.7-inch iPad Pro.
Moreover, expert analysis of global inventory has uncovered a recent, sudden increase in iPad shipments, which is a sign that Apple is clearing out its warehouses as it readies distribution for the upcoming next generation of tablets.
However, other reports point to a new iPad debut in the second half of the year. Apple recently released a couple of new ads for the iPad Pro and, while this could mean they’re cleaning old stock for the new models, the tech giant usually avoids new ads when a product’s update is close.
Recent reports indicate a rather different approach to the market for Apple, this time round. Currently, the iPad comes in three sizes – 12.9, 9.7 and 7.9 inches – spread across the company’s four tablet lines; the iPad, the iPad Pro, the iPad Air, and the iPad Mini.
There’s no expert consensus on which tablets to expect, but rumors suggest an update to the 12.9-inch model and a new 10.5-inch iPad Pro, which being an in-between version of the previous larger and smaller iPad Pro releases will target the business and education markets.
Little has been said about a future iPad Air or iPad Mini, but a low-cost 9.7-inch tablet, named only the “iPad” is supposedly also in the pipeline.
Although earlier rumors brought to light the possibility of a dramatic redesign, which would include a foldable iPad, no Home button, and Touch ID integrated into the screen itself, the latest reports seem to suggest that Apple is holding back major changes, at least until 2018.
Experts appear to be in agreement that the company is reserving the design turnaround for the upcoming iPhone 8, after which it’ll roll out the new features onto later iPad releases.
That said, we expect the iPad Pro 2 tablets to be slimmer, elegant and more polished, with only subtle exterior changes, similar to last year’s iPhone 7.
The hope of a bezel-less display might be slim, but the chances are high that both variants of the iPad Pro 2 will feature an ultra-sharp 4K Retina display. This bump in resolution makes sense, especially when you consider the tablet’s competitors.
The iPad Pro line is meant to establish Apple’s place in the corporate and education scene, but because most premium tablets are now offering ultra-sharp screens, future iPad releases need to be much bolder.
Additionally, insider information points to an updated Apple Pencil provisionally called the Apple Pencil 2. The innovation which already mimics the functionality of the Surface Pen will include upgrades like a faster response, a more comfortable feel in hand, and a pen clip for safe placement in the pocket.
Apple is reportedly working on a new CPU; a beefed-up version of the current A10, presumably called the A10X. The chip is supposedly based on the latest 10-nanometer technology, which makes it smaller but denser.
Little is known about what the new processor will mean to the iPad’s performance, but it’s said to be faster and more power efficient than the A10.
The A10X is set to power the upcoming two iPad Pro devices, while the third, low-cost 9.7-inch iPad will pack the older A9X.
The iPad Pro 2 may be geared towards satisfying the expectations of many enthusiasts, but there are still some additional features and upgrades we’d love to see.
For starters, Apple’s Smart Keyboard was a strong offering in the 12.9-inch model but didn’t do much for the smaller iPad Pro. The keys felt cramped and less satisfying under the fingers.
The size increase from 9.7 to 10.5-inches should stretch things out a bit, but to compete with the current crop of 2-in-1s, the iPad Pro 2 needs an updated accessory line-up.
Other additions on our wishlist include smaller icons on the screen and iOS 10 out of the box. Of course, if the iPad comes out after iOS 11 in the fall, we expect the tablet to run the new OS instead.
Reports surrounding an iPad Pro 2 release are still somewhat preliminary but, if the rumors are true, the world is in for a pleasant treat.
The mind-boggling question now is what will become of Apple’s other tablet lines, notably the iPad Air.
Perhaps this year, the company will finally do away with the confusing and unnecessary diversification of the iPad range. Rather than having the iPad, the iPad Pro, the iPad Air and the iPad Mini, we may only see two new models: the iPad and the iPad Pro.
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