Back in October of 2018, Apple introduced a totally new, totally redesigned iPad Pro. It deleted a lot of the bezels, making the 12.9-inch model smaller and letting the 10.5-inch model expand to 11-inches.
They lost the headphone jack, which sucked, but also swapped out Lightning for USB-C, which was terrific. And they topped it all off with the monstrous A12X processor, which pretty much made any machine with an Intel Core M just break down and cry.
But, that was then, this is now. Apple went all of 2019 without an iPad Pro update. So, what does that mean for 2020?
Way back on November 1st, 2018, supply chain exfiltrator extraordinaire, Kuo Ming-Chi (via MacRumors said he was more than 50% likely to get time-of-flight as well, specifically "3D modeling captured by ToF and then edited by an Apple Pencil on an iPad will create an all-new productivity experience for design applications in a totally different manner from computers."
In January of 2019, Mark Gurman of Bloomberg repeated that the next iPads Pro may get a "laser-powered 3-D camera"… "as early as spring 2020".
And yes, that's the long-fabled AR camera that the iPhones have supposed to be getting for a while and may finally ship with the iPhone 12 as well.
It's also rumored to be a three-camera system, like the iPhone 11 Pro. An alleged leak on Sonny Dickson's website on September 17 showed a very different layout for the three cameras, but renders created by OnLeaks and shared with iGeeksblog show just exactly the iPhone Pro layout — telephoto, wide, and ultra-wide cameras in the same equilateral triangle formation.
And all of this would be terrific. iPads really need to be camera-equivalent with iPhones, especially given the quality of cameras Apple is capable of delivering has been almost criminally underrepresented by previous iPads, including Pro.
I know some people are still perplexingly negative about iPads as cameras, but they're perfect for Pros. Especially given their amazingly large viewfinders. Pros often pay hundreds of dollars for larger viewfinders for pro camera gear. It just makes framing, focusing, everything so much easier on mission-critical shoots.
4K60 on an iPad Pro is already next-level. iPhone Pro cameras — all of them — would be next next level.
The other major set of rumors swirling around the next set of iPads Pro concern the display.
Back on May 23rd, The Elec said that Apple was in talks with Samsung for OLED display for both a 16-inch MacBook Pro and future iPads Pro. ETNews mentioned something similar as well, but you can never tell when these types of publications are actually reporting news and when they're just helping the big conglomerates negotiate in public.
The 16-inch MacBook Pro, of course, shipped with an LED, not OLED display. Last I heard, Apple still wasn't a fan of OLED for bigger displays due to issues with consistency and costs.
Earlier, on April 8th, Kuo Ming-Chi (via MacRumors reported that Apple planned to trio of new products with Mini-LED backlights over the next two years, including what became the Pro Display XDR and a 10-12" iPad in late 2020 or early 2021.
The Pro Display XDR, also of course, shipped with an LED, not mini LED display.
I'd love to see mini LED on the iPad Pros, though. Given how good both Apple TV+ and Disney+ HDR content looks, even Netflix, having it on the OLED iPhones but not the iPads just leaves my eyes all shades of itchy.
Mini LED solves a lot of the same problems as OLED, maybe not to the same levels of inky black, but also without a lot of the problems that come from OLED as well.
It's possible Apple won't have mini LED ready in time, but I'd love to see it in 2020.
There are some other updates that are likely. For example, Apple's getting better and better at spatial audio and adding Dolby Atmos support to everything from the iPhone 11 to the 16-inch MacBook Pro.
Given how good the four-speaker system already is on the current iPads Pro, the next ones should be truly next level.
So's a new chipset. A13X if its this spring or summer, maybe A14X if it gets pushed back to the fall. Either way, it'll be beyond beauty.
Same with 5G. Apple has a new deal in place with Qualcomm and they're both racing to get a hybrid modern ready for a few markets this fall. The original iPad got LTE just ahead of the iPhone, because it's its bigger size could suck up a less efficient solution, but it's hard to see any new iPad Pro shipping before the fall having a good 5G solution on board.
Apple also seems to be going all-in on ultra wideband audio, so a U1 chip seems like a safe bet as well.
So, when could these new iPads Pro come out?
Apple introduced the first iPad Pro, a 12.9-inch monster, in September of 2015. They added a 9.7-inch baby Pro in March of 2016. They updated both, and embiggened the 9.7-inch to 10.5-inches in June of 2017. Then, they redesigned and updated both again, stretching the 10.5-inch to 11-inches, in October of 2018.
That makes for roughly 18-months between iPad Pro updates. Now, Apple sticks to patterns until they don't. But, if they stick to that one, it means we have a yet another update coming our way, maybe as soon as this March or June.
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