Apple iPad Pro 2: Everything you need to know
We’re expecting a new iPad in 2017, or a refreshed iPad Pro 2 – or both. Here’s all the news and rumours we know already know about the iPad Pro 2's release date, specs, features, price and more.
(Update: 14 February 2017): Apple has joined up to the Wireless Power Consortium, which suggests we may see wireless charging efforts from the company in the future. Will the iPad Pro 2 get such an upgrade? Scroll down for more.
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, 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.
Latest iPad Pro 2 News
When does the iPad Pro 2 come out? Q1/2 2017 (rumoured)
What’s new about the iPad Pro 2? A10X chip, OLED screen?
How much will the iPad Pro 2 cost? Between £300 and £700 (speculative)
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iPad Pro 2 Release Date UK & US – When will the iPad Pro 2 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 expect to see at least one new Apple iPad before July 2017.
In fact, Digitimes’ sources go even further, reporting that Apple will ship two million iPad Pro 2 units in the first quarter of 2017, rising to between five and six million units throughout the entire year. The website has an admittedly mixed track record with Apple leaks, however. Consider the fact that a later report, published by Digitimes in January, suggested that Apple was planning for a late 2017 launch instead.
Unfortunately, there’s no way we can realistically give an exact release date at this point. We’ll have to wait until we’re closer to the date for that.
iPad Pro 2 Features – What’s new about the iPad Pro 2?
If Apple wants to get people buying tablets again, it’ll need to kit the new iPad Pro 2 out with the latest hardware and some impressive new features. Here’s what we reckon you’ll see on the next iPad (2017).
iPad Pro 2 Design – 10.5-inch screen, no Home button?
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.
iPad Pro 2 Specs – 10nm A10X chip, OLED display?
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.
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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 very early on in 2017, 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.
iPad Pro 2 – Wireless Charging?
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.
Apple Pencil – A new version incoming?
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 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 Software – 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 this year, 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 the next iPad 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.
Should I wait for the iPad Pro 2?
Today’s high-end tablet industry is a shadow of its former self, so there’s not a huge amount of choice – unless you’re willing to buy a 2-in-1 hybrid. Apple still has one of the best tablet propositions on the market, especially since Samsung has gone quiet on the Galaxy Tab S range. So if you’re keen to buy a tablet this year, we’d definitely recommend waiting for the iPad Pro 2.
But if you want a new tablet right now, Apple has plenty of options available to suit various needs. We’ve generally scored the iPad series well, so you’ll probably be happy with whatever device you pick. It really just comes down to the screen size you want, and how much you’re willing to spend. And with this year’s iPad Pro upgrades looking severely limited, we’d say you’re just as well upgrading today.
However, if you’re not a steadfast Apple fan then there are a bunch of great Android and Windows alternatives, too. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 (£330) is still a decent buy, and the Windows-powered Galaxy TabPro S (£500) is also very compelling. And don’t forget rival offerings, such as the Huawei Mediapad M3 (£311), the Amazon Fire HD 6 (£80), or the Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro (£400).
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What would you like to see from Apple’s next tablet? Let us know in the comments below.