Everything we know about the iPad ProChatter of a potential iPad Pro release began way back in April 2013, albeit under the guise of an iPad/Macbook-hybrid patent filing. While such a lovechild is unlikely to land, it could be evidence of Apple being keen to bulk out its iPad line-up.
Building on this flaky foundation, 2014 has seen a smorgasbord of whispers and leaks pointing to a 12-inch tablet being in the works within Apple’s Cupertino HQ.
The device – tipped to feature either a 12.2-inch or 12.9-inch panel – is expected to land with an iPhone 6-inspired design. Two prototypes are reportedly being tested – one running pure form iOS, the other operating an oddball iOS/Mac OS medley.
The rumour mill has also churned out the possibility of Apple dropping its iPad mini altogether, in the wake of its far more substantial iPad Pro sibling. While this seems unlikely due to the device’s popularity, there is a chance the binning could be a result of sized-up phones squeezing teeny slates out of the market.
Interestingly, Apple might dodge the ‘iPad Pro’ tag altogether, with the iPad Plus moniker already being hinted at online in the wake of the recent iPhone 6 Plus reveal.
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This shows a proposed hybrid design from an Apple patent filing
Despite analysts’ crystal ball gazing pointing to a 2014 launch, it now seems entirely improbable that Apple will begin flogging its mystery slate this year.
iPad Pro Release Date: When will it come out?
Instead, a 2015 iPad Pro release date seems a much more sensible proposition, especially as tipsters have already pegged the iPad Pro to begin production early next year. Apparently iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus production caused a delay in iPad Pro manufacturing, which was originally scheduled for December.
That opens up the question of when? Well there are a few solid opportunities for Apple to tout its new tablet fare. Early 2015 will see the launch of an Apple Watch, with the company already tipped to be readying up a device to launch alongside it.
Casting further questions over when the tablet will launch, further reports have suggested the iPad Pro could be unveiled between April and June next year alongside an iPad Mini 4.
After that, we’ve got WWDC 2015 to look forward to in June. While this event isn’t typically used to launch new consumer hardware, it could proffer some software/SDK clues regarding a larger iPad.
Despite this mass of speculation, the most likely slot for Apple’s mystery slate will have you waiting for a while yet. The company’s annual autumn extravaganza, where this year’s iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and Apple Watch stole the show, is shaping up to host new tablets in 2015.
While many expected the 2014 event to showcase the iPad Pro, it now seems 2015’s Cupertino hoedown is in prime position for the device launch.
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iPad Pro Rumours: What do we know so far?Out of all the rumours emerges one consistent assumption – the iPad Pro will clock in at around 12-inches. Even there lies disparity though, with guesses ranging from 12.2-inches right up to 12.9-inches.
We’ve also heard via Foxconn that a 4K-display (4096 x 3072) iPad Pro could be a reality, outdoing the iPad Air 2’s formidable 2048 x 1536 resolution.
In terms of size, a recent leak suggests dimensions of 305.31 x 220.8 x 7mm – that’s super thin, but less streamlined than the super svelte, 6.2mm thick iPad Air 2.
There’s also been talk of a stylus touting the predictable ‘iPen’ moniker. This flurry of rumours has been backed up by the 20 associated patents already in existance.
A February-sired patent revealed a battery-powered iPen that packed its own selection of dedicated sensors (gyroscope, accelerometer, microphone) is in the works.
The operating system is also a hot topic for iPad Pro believers, as such a large slate would fall somewhere awkwardly between the iPad Air 2 and the MacBook Air/MacBook Pro series.
While iOS would be the easy option, ‘supply chain sources’ have hinted at a prototype iPad Pro rig running an iOS/Mac OS X mash-up.
It’s not unprecedented – Microsoft’s Windows 10 is set to make a similarly cross-platform move, offering a shared app store and touch-screen functionality.
Of course, Apple might decide to bin the twin OS should it not meet the firm’s stringent product output requirements, especially since iOS proper is already so well established in the software space.
Apple has also made a big push for improved cross-platform functionality in recent times with Continuity and Hand-Off, which could lend further credence to the merged-OS rumours.
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iPad Pro concept by Ramotion
The innards of any consumer tech device are always a topic of contention, and the iPad Pro is no different.
iPad Pro Specs: What features will it have?
While the full iPad Pro specs sheet has remained elusive thus far, we have heard some talk of an A8X processor being included.
The A8X is Apple’s custom-built tablet chip that first debuted on the iPad Air 2.
It’s an upgraded variant of the standard A8 chip seen on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, and packs a serious punch as far as tablets go.
The source for this gem is Apple’s ever chatty Taiwanese supply chain, but there are some caveats worth mentioning. For starters, it’s likely that a September 2015 release could see an A9/A9X chip included.
We already know Apple has got Samsung on board to start building the lion’s share of its A9 chips, so the probability of a new iPad using one is likely.
What’s more, while the A8X is good for the iPad Air 2, it’s likely the iPad Pro will be a much more power-hungry affair, and could do with running its own dedicated chip – the A9XS, perhaps?
We can also garner clues from Apple’s current flagship slate – the iPad Air 2. The lightweight tablet rocks 2GB of RAM and comes in 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB storage options.
Those storage categories seem to be Apple’s modus operandi for marketing mobile devices right now, so we’d be surprised if it strayed from this strategy.
In terms of RAM, consumers often plead with Apple to add more memory to its devices, but its software optimisations have always led to impressive performance regardless of its seemingly sub-par specs.
Both 2GB or 3GB are likely choices for iPad Pro RAM, but anything higher whiffs of something terribly un-Apple.
The iPad Pro is also expected to carry over the usual features Apple’s typically shipped with its most recent devices, including the Touch ID sensor, an iSight camera, and a lightning cable port.
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iPad Pro Price: How much will it cost?The iPad Pro price remains a mystery for now, with all current conversation amounting to little more than speculation. On that note, here’s our mark-up guesswork for the rumoured tablet.
The first port of call is to look at iPad Air 2 pricing. The 16GB model is currently being peddled for £399, the 64GB for £479, and the 128GB for £559. The price hits £659 should you spring for the cellular-enabled model.
Considering the iPad Pro is expected to be both larger and more powerful, a premium will surely be tacked on top of these numbers.
Next up on the agenda is the MacBook Air which, interestingly, sizes up at both 11-inches and 13-inches – sort of like a form factor bear hug for the iPad Pro.
The 11-inch device retails at £749 for the 128GB version, and £899 for the 256GB variant.
Meanwhile its 13-inch sibling marks up at £849, with the beefier 256GB model capping out at £999.
So what does this all mean for the iPad Pro? It’s unlikely Apple will one-up the MacBook Pro with its iPad Pro pricing, as it could devalue the premium notebook in the eyes of the public.
The likeliest scenario is that the iPad Pro will price up relative to the MacBook Pro in the same way the iPad Air prices up relative to the MacBook Air.
The most expensive MacBook Air and the most expensive iPad Air 2 differ in price by £240. This would mean that the iPad Pro would cost £759 – pricy, but not at all out of place amongst Apple’s typically premium product line-up.
We will continue to update this page with all the latest iPad Pro leaks and rumours moving forward. Bookmark it now to keep up to date with all things big tablets.
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Next, read our Surface Pro 3 review - the next best thing to an iPad Pro.