OPINION: Apple could cut the headphone jack on the next entry-level iPad. It would be a needless change that would hinder younger users.
Purported CAD renders published by MySmartPrice are said to show the design and dimensions for the 10th-generation iPad – the linear successor to Apple’s original tablet – and revealing an abundance of changes.
A squarer design akin to the iPad Pro, the possible presence of a USB-C charger, new speaker arrays on the bottom and top of the device, a slightly larger display, and potentially a more refined build.
Missing from the renders, however, is the trusty 3.5mm headphone jack. The entry level iPad is the last to keep it among all iPads on sale, along with its removal from the iPhone range a few years back. While the emergence of renders is common and often incorrect, it would be a real surprise and a shame if Apple went down this route.
The standard iPad is a paint-by-numbers device these days, and that’s a compliment. People know what they’re going to get from it; so much so the design changes and feature additions have been minimal for five or six years now. This version of the iPad is highly functional, but highly affordable. That’s the main selling point. The Pro, Air and Mini versions have their own merits, which are reflected in the price tag.
Of course, that’s not to say improvements aren’t welcome. A better display and longer battery life? Great. The addition of Face ID and Apple Silicon? Fine, but not necessary at this sub-section of the market.
Apple knows the iPad is an important device for younger users, who won’t necessarily have access to a pair of true wireless earphones. It’s a critical device in the education sector. Indeed, it’s essential in some schools in the US, for instance, as that’s how the textbooks are served.
That means parents, perhaps already strapped for cash, may have to splash out on a pair of AirPods or other true wireless headphones or earphones to go with the £320 tablet. Most folks have a pair of wired headphones knocking around, even if it’s the old EarPods Apple used to ship with these devices, and there are adaptors to ensure these still work, albeit at the cost of access to the charging port.
If that’s Apple’s plan here – to encourage more AirPods sales – it would be a mistake. However, it’s difficult to figure out other motivations. Perhaps the larger screen size – maybe 10.5-inches or 10.9-inches – hinted at by these leaked renders would commandeer a little more space within the internals?
The CAD renders, purportedly based on case designs, showcase dimensions of 248.62 x 179.50 x 6.98mm, suggesting it’ll be wider yet slimmer than the existing 9th-gen iPad (250.6mm x 174.1mm x 7.5mm). It’s possible that’s put the squeeze on the internals.
Just this week OnePlus removed the alert slider from the OnePlus 10T – feature beloved by users – to create space on the inside of the device for improved wired charging capabilities.
However, we thought that during the post-Jony Ive era at Apple meant the company was done with unnecessarily removing features in order to provide a slicker design. Some MacBooks are getting their axed ports back, for example.
And, with an Android tablet renaissance in the offering with the Pixel Tablet and Google’s renewed vigour for the sector, Apple should think twice before upsetting the proverbial cart.