Everything you need to know about the iPad Pro 2
In this article, I’ll cover:
- What’s the latest iPad Pro 2 news?
- When is the iPad Pro 2's release date?
- What’s new about the iPad Pro 2's specs and design?
- What’s the iPad Pro 2's price?
- Should you wait for the iPad Pro 2?
Update (23 March 2017): Apple may have revealed its first iPad of 2017 – an upgraded 9.7-inch model – but we haven't (yet) got the iPad Pro 2 upgrade many of us were hoping for. So we're left patiently waiting for more news of a possible iPad Pro 2 this year.
When the first iPad launched back in 2010, Apple created a product category all on its own, driving rivals to bust out their own competing devices. Sales boomed, and tablets became a must-have for gadgeteers everywhere. But since then, the size of smartphone screens has ballooned, and the tablet industry has taken a major hit as a result. Apple still regularly releases iPads, but the line-up has become confusing and unwieldy.
That’s why we’re not entirely sure what Apple has planned for the future. We’ve already been inundated with rumours about the next iPad (or iPad Pro?), believed to be the iPad Pro 2. Tipsters suggest we’ll see a middling 10-inch(-ish) iPad launched this year, in a bid to woo as wide a range of consumers as possible.
Now that we’re starting to get a good idea of what to expect from the iPad Pro 2, we’ve rounded up all the information we could find about the mooted device, plus heaps of speculation and educated guesswork, too.
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iPad Pro 2 News – the latest news and rumours
Here’s a rundown of the latest iPad Pro 2 news, in chronological order:
March 21, 2017 – Apple unveils new iPad, but where's the Pro 2? As expected, Apple launched a new iPad, but it wasn't the Pro 2 many of us were expecting. Could it still land later in the year?
March 13, 2017 – No grand entrance for iPad Pro 2? Apple is reportedly planning to launch refreshed iPad models without hosting a major launch event.
March 7, 2017 – iPad Pro 2 launch event confirmed? The Apple World Today blog claimed that Apple would be holding an event for new iPad models on April 4, possibly at the new Steve Jobs Theater on the recently completed Apple Park campus.
February 28, 2017 – Budget-friendly model incoming? As well as two high-end iPad models, Apple is reportedly working on a third budget version with a 9.7-inch display that could be priced as low as $299.
February 24, 2017 – iPad Pro 2 delayed? A Digitimes report claimed that new iPad Pro models have been delayed, with a possible release pushed back to May or June.
iPad Pro 2 release date – when does it come out?
Apple has a very sporadic release history when it comes to tablets, so we can’t really rely on previous launches to guide us. Instead, we turn to the abundance of rumours pointing to an early 2017 launch. Most industry sources suggest supply chains are gearing up to deliver components for a product release in the first or second quarter of this year. So as expected, we saw a new Apple iPad before July 2017 – it just wasn't the Pro 2.
Which means we're still wondering when the next iPad Pro model, provisionally dubbed the Pro 2, will come out.
We previously heard rumours that Apple would hold a special event around April 4 to coincide with the opening of the new 1,000-seat Steve Jobs Theater at Apple's new Apple Park campus, but that now seems a bit close to the stealth March launch of the latest iPad.
Realistically, this means we can't give you an exact release date at this point, but based on experience, another new iPad now seems unlikely to break cover before the autumn.
Could the iPad Pro 2 debut alongside the iPhone 8? Stay tuned as we're sure the rumour mill will reignite shortly.
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iPad Pro 2 design – what’s new?
What’s tricky about the iPad Pro 2 is that there might not be any one singular model, but several. According to Digitimes, here’s how Apple’s iPad line-up will look this year, in terms of screen sizes:
- 9.7-inch (premium)
- 9.7-inch (budget)
And then there’s a report from Japanese site Macotakara that claims we’ll see a 10.9-inch iPad.
All this makes it extremely difficult to get a good idea of what Apple has planned for the iPad in 2017. There’s no denying that the range has become increasingly confused, with Apple selling tablets under a growing roster of brand names, including: iPad, iPad Pro, iPad Air, and iPad Mini. There’s a chance that Apple may settle on one single brand name in 2017, and stick with a generally popular screen size in the 10-inch range.
We’re also expecting to see a major design overhaul from the new iPad, which could tease long-rumoured changes to the iPhone aesthetic – those are expected in September 2017. For a start, 9to5mac reports that Apple may remove the Home button on the new iPad, testing the waters ahead of a similar move for the iPhone 8.
And Macotakara cites a supply chain source in Taiwan as saying that the 10.9-inch iPad will have the same footprint as the existing 9.7-inch iPad Pro, thanks to significant size reductions to the bezel. However, the site also reports that the thickness of the device will increase to 7.5mm – the same as on the original iPad Air – to accommodate these changes. It’s believed that the larger 12.9-inch iPad will gain 0.3mm in thickness thanks to a slimmed-down bezel, too.
In other design news, Apple is reportedly planning a sequel to the Apple Pencil – the so-called Apple Pencil 2.
A report from Letem Svetem Applem, which cites Chinese supply chain sources, details how the new Apple Pencil 2 will include a magnet that allows it to attach to the iPad Pro's smart cover, as well as a shirt clip. It's reportedly intended to make the Pencil much more difficult to mislay.
This report is lent credence by several Apple patents that have explored ways of attaching the Pencil to the tablet.
The first Apple Pencil was launched as an accessory alongside the 12.9-inch iPad Pro back in the autumn of 2015. Creative types have praised the £99/$99 accessory for its near lag-free responsiveness, and its ability to draw lines of differing weight by varying the pressure. Users can also add shading by tilting the pencil, just as you would with a conventional pencil.
iPad Pro 2 specs – what’s new?
We may be many months away from the iPad Pro 2 launch, so rumours about actual specs and hardware are thin on the ground. Most of what we can say about the next iPad is based on common sense and guesswork.
For instance, Apple introduced a dual-camera configuration on the iPhone 7 Plus, which proved very popular amongst reviewers. If Apple really is working on a new premium iPad, it follows that the tablet would also get the same upgrade. Similarly, we’d expect to see the usual features like a Touch ID fingerprint sensor and a 3D Touch display. There’s also a rumour that Apple might finally scrap the Home button, instead embedding its functionality into the display in a bid to reduce the size of iPad bezels.
We’re expecting a significant upgrade to raw performance, too. Specifically, Digitimes reckons Apple will introduce a new A10X chip that builds on the existing A10 processor used in the iPhone 7. For the unaware, the A10 ‘Fusion’ chip was special in that it was Apple’s first chip to combine high-power and low-power cores, which can be activated depending on the difficulty of the task you’re trying to get done. If it’s an easy job, the low-power cores will handle the grunt work, saving battery life as a result.
Excitingly, Dutch tech blog Techtastic has already leaked what appear to be Geekbench benchmark test scores for the Apple A10X chip, with the new processor earning a 4,236 single-core score and a 6,588 multi-core score. That’s compared to the A10 Fusion’s respective 3,490 and 5,580 scores.
However, it’s not clear how similar the two chips will be. While the A10 was built on a 16nm manufacturing process, Apple has reportedly already enlisted chipmaker TSMC to begin producing far more efficient 10nm A11 chips for the iPhone 8. There’s a chance that Apple’s 2017 iPad range might also feature a 10nm chip, which would offer significant performance and efficiency improvements.
There’s pressure to make such a move, too. In November, Qualcomm unveiled its new Snapdragon 835 chip, which is built using Samsung’s 10nm FinFET process. That chip is expected to appear in mobile devices starting with the Samsung Galaxy S8 in March, and is believed to offer either 40% lower power consumption or 27% higher performance, depending on how it is configured. Apple may not want to run the risk of releasing a tablet with outdated chip technology on board, although we’re not entirely convinced either way.
The other potential upgrade would be a move to OLED displays, which is also another improvement tipped for the iPhone 8. Apple currently uses standard LCD panels with an LED backlight, while rivals like Samsung and OnePlus use more efficient OLED screens. With OLED displays, each pixel emits its own light, eliminating the need for a backlight. This reduces power consumption, as individual pixels can be turned off – also resulting in deeper (and more true) blacks. Unfortunately, a report from KGI Securities claims that the new iPad Pro won’t be fitted with an OLED display after all, with that change reserved for the 2018 models. Stay tuned.
We may also see wireless charging, finally! In February 2017, Apple joined the Wireless Power Consortium, leading to rampant speculation that Apple would finally add wireless charging to the iPhone 8. After all, the WPC is the regulatory body that oversees the Qi wireless charging standard – the same one used in Samsung's Galaxy S7. But there's little reason why Apple couldn't extend its apparent wireless charging ambitions to the iPad Pro 2 as well as its next flagship smartphone.
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iPad Pro 2 software – will it run on iOS 10 or iOS 11?
What software the next iPad runs on really depends on when the tablet is released. If, as rumours suggest, the iPad Pro 2 lands early this year, then it will almost certainly run on the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS 10. But if it arrives later in September, landing alongside the expected iPhone 8, then it’s far more likely to run on iOS 11. That OS hasn’t been announced yet, but will probably be confirmed next summer at Apple’s annual WWDC developer conference.
Our money is on an early iPad launch, and thus iOS 10 – and that’s no bad thing. Apple released iOS 10 in September 2016, debuting the software on its new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus handsets. New features included changes to 3D Touch, the lock screen, and the addition of ‘widget’ support. Apple also added additional emojis to Messages, a redesigned interface to Maps, and a new algorithmic categorisation and search system called ‘Memories’ for Photos. Siri also finally bagged support for third-party app-specific requests, so you can, for instance, request an Uber using your voice alone.
iPad Pro 2 price – how much will it cost?
We haven’t seen any leaked pricing for upcoming iPad models yet, so all we have to go on is the cost of existing devices. Here’s what Apple’s tablets currently retail for in the UK:
- 7.9-inch iPad Mini 2 – £239
- 7.9-inch iPad Mini 4 – £379
- 9.7-inch iPad Air 2 – £379
- 9.7-inch iPad Pro – £549
- 12.9-inch iPad Pro – £729
So if Apple was to release a 10-inch(-ish) iPad in 2017, we’d expect it to cost anywhere from £300 to £700, depending on the specifications. In fact, prices could even be higher given the waning value of Sterling – we already saw a price jump from Apple thanks to currency fluctuations last year.
Should you wait for the iPad Pro 2?
Thinking about picking up an iPad Pro 2? Here’s our advice:
If you don’t have a tablet but want one, it’s worth waiting. Apple basically kickstarted the tablet industry, so it’s got a decent reputation for turning out solid slates. With as many as three new iPads in the pipeline for the first half of 2017, it would be foolish not to wait to see what Apple has up its sleeve.
If you’ve just bought a new iPad, be happy with your purchase. It’s highly unlikely that the new iPads (if they exist) will be significantly different than last year’s iPad. So unless you’re a real stickler for specs, you’ll probably get on fine with your existing slate.
Consider the alternatives, including Android and Windows. It goes without saying that buying older generation iPads could save you a lot of money. But don’t forget that there are plenty of non-Apple alternatives to the iPad. On the Android front, you’ve got Samsung’s new Galaxy Tab S3, while you’ll find good use out of a Windows hybrid like the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 or the Samsung Galaxy Book.
iPad Pro 2 – summary
Here’s what you really need to know:
iPad Pro 2 release date: There’s no clear consensus on a new iPad release date – we’ve heard dates in March, April, May, and June rumoured, as well as the obvious September event. An April reveal seems most likely at this point, but it’s too early to say either way.
iPad Pro 2 specs: We’re expecting a number of upgrades, including a more powerful A10X chip, a new slim-bezel design, and a revamped Apple Pencil.
iPad Pro 2 price: Apple is reportedly plotting three different iPad variants, so we’re likely to see a wide range of pricing. Expect anything from £240 to £799 for base spec models.
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What would you like to see from the next iPad? Let us know in the comments.