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iPad Pro – everything you need to know

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Here’s a round-up of everything you need to know about the Apple iPad Pro (or iPad Air Plus) that we’re expecting to launch later this year.

While there’s still no absolutely concrete confirmation that the iPad Pro is coming evidence is growing that a monster Apple tablet is on the way.

Since the launch of the very first iPad in 2010, tablets have become a staple of our collective tech arsenals.

Apple capitalised on this success by launching the iPad Mini and iPad Air 2, giving its customers more choice in the tablet department.

But tablet growth has slumped since those early glory days, and now everyone’s wondering what’s next for Apple’s tablet line-up? Enter, the iPad Pro.

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro has been rumoured since way back in 2013, and could be the perfect refresher for a stagnant market.

Here are the latest iPad Pro news and rumours:

  • 15 July 2015: iPad Pro release date tipped – Read more
  • 15 June 2015: iOS 9 contains huge iPad Pro hint – Read more
  • 5 June 2015: Apple renews iPad stylus patent – Read more
  • 11 May 2015: iPad Pro tipped with new touch panel – Read more
  • 1 May 2015: iPad Pro leak points to 12-inch tablet – Read more
  • 20 April 2015: iPad Pro case leaks – Read more
  • 30 March 2015: iPad Pro could feature USB-C – Read more
  • 5 March 2015: iPad Pro delayed to September 2015 – Read more
  • 30 January 2015: iPad Pro case leak tips four speakers – Read more
  • 19 January 2015: iPad Pro optional stylus – Read more
  • 9 January 2015: iPad Pro mould leaks – Read more
That’s all we’ve heard in 2015, but iPad Pro leaks have been trickling out for years. Here’s what to expect.

iPad Pro – Rumours In Brief

When is the iPad Pro coming out? Mid-November

What’s new about the iPad Pro? 12.9-inch screen, Force Touch, iOS 9, Stylus

How much will the iPad Pro cost? Probably between £399-749/$499-$899

Related: iOS 9: What's new?

iPad Pro Release Date – When is the iPad Pro coming out

Apple’s most recent opportunity to announce a productivity-focused 12.9-inch iPad Pro was at its annual Worldwide Developer Conference in June.

Unfortunately, that event passed without incident, so we’re now looking towards the next possible release date.

At the moment, we’d say that’s most likely to be this autumn, as Apple will want to have the iPad Pro on shelves in times for the Christmas shopping splurge.

That theory is lent credence first by the fact that Apple is probably going to launch the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus in September at its usual smartphone shindig. October is the month that Apple has launched its last two iPads, and this probably when we’ll see the iPad Pro finally unveiled.

iPad Air 2 casesThe iPad Air 2 sequel skipped for an iPad Pro?

The late-autumn release theory is also supported by a recent report that suggests Apple is eyeing a mid-November launch for the iPad Pro. That’s a bit later than we’ve come to expect and also cuts it close to Christmas, but it all depends on how manufacturing gets on.

We’d say that seems a little late for an Apple unveiling, so the most probable theory is that Apple will announce the iPad Pro in October event, and begin retailing the device in late October or November.

That same report also suggested that Apple is being careful about the number of iPad Pro units it’s ordering.

Apple is rather cautious about placing related orders [for the iPad Pro] and the initial shipment volume is much lower than most market watchers’ expectations,” explains the article.

It’s worth noting that a different report points to a 2016 launch for the iPad Pro. That’s the same report from May that suggested we’ll see an improved “pressure” sensitive touch panel feature – Force Touch, anyone?

Related: iOS 9 vs Android M

In-Depth: iPad Pro Specs & Features Explained

iPad Pro Screen

While iPad Pro specs have been chopped and changed over a long history of rumours, one point has stayed relatively consistent – the mooted 12.9-inch display.

That’s not surprising; as the iPad Pro name implies, this will be the biggest version of the iPad yet. There’s a reason it’s also been leaked as the iPad Air Plus, folks.

Moving to 12-inches plus seems like a sensible move for Apple, as there’s plenty of money to be made in the productivity/business tablet sector. The unreleased iPad Pro’s main rival, for instance, is the Microsoft Surface Pro 3, which touts a 12-inch display.

iPad Pro 9A Microsoft Surface tablet

On the other hand that also puts it in close competition to the new, stripped-down MacBook.

We should note that there have been a couple of reports suggesting a 13.3-inch model is in the works. Apple may have upscaled its iPad Pro therefore, or perhaps hopes to launch a second, slightly more powerful model. We can’t say for sure right now.

Resolution

Unlike the screen size rumours, tipsters have been less consistent when it comes to the display resolution that Apple will use on its iPad Pro.

As is true with seemingly all new devices rumoured to launch in 2015, the iPad Pro has been tipped with a 4K screen.

Well, sort of. A display supplier was reported as saying the iPad Pro will feature an almost-UHD resolution – that’s 3,840 x 2,160 or a little under.

That said, we’ve also heard rumours of 4,096 x 3,072 and 2,560 x 1,440 pixel resolution panels for the iPad Pro. We simply can’t say for sure right now.

For contrast, the iPad Air 2 uses a 1,536 x 2,048 pixel display, which works out to a 264ppi pixel density.

Related: Best Tablet 2015

iPad Pro 7The iPad Air 2

The Microsoft Surface Pro 3, meanwhile, has a 2,160 x 1,440 pixel panel – that’s a 216ppi pixel density.

Then there’s Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S 10.5 with a 2,560 x 1,600 pixel display, equating to an impressive 288ppi pixel density.

With a productivity tablet, the iPad Pro will need to have a reasonably high-resolution panel to compete, particular if it aims itself at graphic designers. We’d say a conservative expectation is something at least as high as the iPad Air 2’s 1,536 x 2,048 pixel display, but in all likelihood it’ll be a sharper screen.

Force Touch & Stylus

Ever since Apple unveiled Force Touch on the Apple Watch, the rumour mill has been ablaze with suggestions that the company will roll out the technology across its entire product line-up.

Force Touch is the pressure sensitivity technology that has already featured on both the Apple Watch and the 12-inch MacBook (2015)’s trackpad.

iPad Pro 3Force Touch on the Apple Watch

And as far as candidates go, the iPad Pro looks set to be the perfect device to utilise the technology.

That’s for several reasons, the most convincing of which is that the iPad Pro will be a productivity tablet, and has been rumoured to ship with a stylus.

The iPad Pro’s biggest rival, the Microsoft Surface Pro 3, offers the Surface pen, which has a formidable 256 levels of pressure sensitivity.

What’s interesting is that the iPad Pro could do something similar in a very different way. Rather than having the pressure sensitivity on the stylus it could have it via a Force Touch display, or even use a combination of both.

Lending credence to this theory is a leak from back in May that suggested Apple had pushed back the release date of the iPad Pro to get improved “pressure” sensitive displays ready in time.

While it didn’t explicitly cite Force Touch, that does sound incredibly similar to what the display technology already offers.

“It will be first applied on large-screen iPad,” reads the report. While that could reference a new version of the iPad Air, it’s more likely referring to the much-rumoured iPad Pro.

Related: Best Android Tablets 2015

iPad Pro Camera

While the iPad Pro has been leaked heavily, we’ve heard very little in the way of rumours about the iPad Pro camera.

At a guess, we’d say it’s likely there’ll be both a front-facing FaceTime camera and a rear-facing iSight camera featured.

There’s also talk of the iPhone 6S being capable of shooting 4K video. With rumours that the iPad Pro will feature a 4K screen, UHD video recording could very well be in store.

iPad Pro Processor and Specs

When it comes to the iPad Pro processor, there are only really three options Apple can choose from.

The first is the A8X, a 64-bit system-on-a-chip (SoC) built by Apple and manufactured by semiconductor supplier TSMC.

This chip has, thus far, only appeared on the iPad Air 2. That’s because it’s a variant of the iPhone 6’s A8 chip specifically designed for tablets.

The A8X, for contrast, has 40 per cent better processing performance and 2.5 times the graphical performance of its predecessor, the A7 chip.

It’s currently Apple’s most powerful chip on the market, with three cores clocked at 1.5GHz. That makes it a perfect candidate to feature on the iPad Pro.

However, Apple also has an A9 chip lined up for release this year, which is expected to debut on the iPhone 6S come September.

The A9 chip is being built by both Samsung and TSMC, and is currently rumoured to be in volume production.

Related: Best iPad Games 2015

iPad ProCould it be the A9 chip?

It’s likely that if the A9 chip features on the iPhone 6S, it would also feature on any tablet that launches alongside it, namely the iPad Pro.

Of course, the third option is that Apple develops a tablet variant of the A9 SoC – dubbed the Apple A9X chip – just like the iPad Air 2’s A8X.

There haven’t been any rumours suggesting this is the case, but it seems unlikely that a powerful productivity-focused iPad Pro would use exactly the same chip as a smartphone.

We’d wager Apple will use a more powerful version of the iPhone 6S chip for its iPad Pro.

Regarding memory, the rumours have generally pointed to 2GB of RAM. That’s in-line with the iPad Air 2.

Apple is usually fairly lethargic when it comes to upgrading RAM on mobile devices, so we wouldn’t be surprised if the company stuck with 2GB for now.

That said, there has been a report that suggests 4GB of RAM will be in store, due to the multi-tasking performance expected from a productivity tablet.

We’d say such a leap is unlikely when you look at Apple’s track record of unhurried RAM upgrades for previous mobile devices.

Related: iPhone 6S release date

iPad Pro Speakers

Although we haven’t heard much in the way of iPad Pro speaker leaks, there is one report that gives us a small clue.

That’s a leak of a purported iPad Pro case, which features four cut-outs near the corners of the device.

iPad ProClaimed iPad Pro casing

That seems to suggest that the iPad Pro will feature four front-facing speakers, rather than the two on offer on the bottom edge of the iPad Air 2.

With Apple expected to increase the dimensions of its tablets for the iPad Pro, there’s no reason why more speakers couldn’t be crammed into the device’s body.

iPad Pro Software

At WWDC 2015, Apple finally unveiled its iOS 9 mobile operating system, which is set to ship as standard on the next round of Apple devices.

As such, it seems highly probable that the iPad Pro will be launching with iOS 9 front and centre, not the new OS X El Capitan as some think may be possible. That would make it a little too close to a MacBook.

There’s also a big clue from the iOS 9 announcement that suggests an iPad Pro could well be on the way.

That’s the fact that Apple has bundled in a smorgasbord of iPad-only multitasking features and productivity tools that make it easier to get stuff done.

That, of course, reeks of Apple preparing for an imminent iPad Pro launch, and could be our biggest sign yet that the 12.9-inch iPad is nearly here.

Related: Apple Music: The Essential Guide

ios9 7SplitView for the iPad in iOS 9

Improvements include SplitView apps, a new task switcher, a “slide-over”app feature, and picture-in-picture video windows.

But what else is on the way in iOS 9? A revamped Siri, improved search, and a dedicated News app, to name a few. You can read all of the new features in our iOS 9: What’s New? guide right here.

iPad Pro Design

When it comes to screen size, the general consensus is a 12.9-inch display. But that doesn’t answer the question of how big the iPad Pro will be.

Fortunately, a tip from prolific – and generally trustworthy – rumour-spinner OnLeaks claims the iPad Pro dimensions to be 223 x 306 x 7.2mm

iPad ProThe OnLeaks dimensions leak

To put that in perspective, that’s thicker and more squat than the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 at 247.3 x 117.3 x 6.6mm.

It’s much bigger than the iPad Air 2, but thicker also, with the latter measuring 240 x 169.5 x 6.1mm.

It’s thinner, however, and slightly less wide than the Microsoft Surface Pro 3, which measures 290 x 201 x 9.1mm.

The 4:3 aspect ratio also looks on the cards, meaning current iPad apps should work without black borders or weird stretching.

USB-C

There’s also the point of connectivity – the aforementioned OnLeaks report also pointed to a USB-C port being included.

It’s worth noting that the iPhone 6S, also rumoured for an autumn release, has been tipped to offer USB-C too.

But what is USB-C? It’s a burgeoning connection standard that’s looking to replace a number of ports on your mobile devices, including MicroUSB.

It has advantages over MicroUSB in that it can charge devices quicker, can transfer data at a higher bandwidth, and features a reversible tip – just like Apple’s Lightning cables.

It’s already been featured on the new 12-inch MacBook (2015), so Apple isn’t against using it. In fact, long-time Apple blogger John Gruber has even claimed Apple actually invented USB-C.

If these rumours are true, then we may see Apple finally make the shift to USB-C with its autumn launches, iPad Pro included.

Related: USB-C: Everything you need to know

USB CUSB-C port on the new MacBook

iPad Pro Price – How much will the iPad Pro cost

While there haven’t been any leaks specifically relating to iPad Pro price, we’d say to expect at least a £399 R.R.P.

That’s because that entry level iPad Air 2 currently costs £399 – that’s for a 9.7-inch tablet.

If the iPad Pro is 12.9-inch like the rumours say, we’d expect Apple to tack on a hefty premium.

We also need to take into consideration how much the iPad Pro’s rivals will cost. That means we need to look at productivity tablets.

At the forefront of that sector is the Microsoft Surface Pro 3, which starts at £639. The top-end model, meanwhile, costs an eye-watering £1,549.

In that price bracket, you’re deep in MacBook territory – the cheapest MacBook Air retails at £749.

macbook airThe MacBook Air, a major rival to the iPad Pro?

Wed say it’s unlikely that Apple will want to peddle the iPad Pro at MacBook prices, despite productivity tablets being competitor devices to notebooks.

That’s why our best guess for the iPad Pro price is anywhere north of £399, but probably less than £749. Anything more specific is impossible to guess at this point.

Related: Apple MacBook (2015) vs Microsoft Surface Pro 3

Should I buy the iPad Pro or the iPad Air 2?

This is a tricky one. That’s because we don’t even know for sure whether the iPad Pro is on the cards or what exactly it will be if it is, so we can’t really assess its worth.

The best way to answer this question is to decide what you really want from a tablet.

The iPad Air 2 is really positioned as a casual media device, more so than the smaller iPad Mini 3 – that’s not as impressive when it comes to video.

The iPad Pro, meanwhile, looks set to be more productivity-oriented, and will likely gel well with businesses and professionals.

As such, the more substantial spec sheet will likely make it more expensive, which means casual consumers might want to avoid a pricey iPad Pro.

Of course, there are also alternatives, so why not take a look at the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 or the Microsoft Surface Pro 3, both of which have multi-tasking capabilities.

Check out our video review of the latter below:

Let us know what you’d like to see from the iPad Pro in the comments section.

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