Apple introduced its first 12.9-inch tablet more than a year ago, and many are wondering, where’s the iPad Pro 2? Rumors and leaks indicate that the debut might still be months away, and also provide an early look at the changes coming in the second-generation large Apple tablet. UPDATED
Not the “iPad Pro 2”
This product is unlikely to be called the “iPad Pro 2,” as Apple seems to be moving away from giving different versions of its tablets distinctive names. Both the 12.9-inch and the 9.7-inch versions of the iPad Pro are simply named “iPad Pro,” and the second generation model is also expected to have that same moniker. It will therefore be up to customers, retailers, and the tech press to specify that the next model is (likely) the 12.9-inch iPad Pro (2017).
Release Date: UPDATED
It was rumored last year that this model would hit store shelves this spring, and the fact that Apple’s stock of the original iPad Pro has been growing thin for months could be evidence this is true. The company’s website indicates that an order placed for this product today won’t ship for “2-3 weeks”. That said, April is almost over, and there’s been no word yet of a launch in May.
Some are starting to predict that the unveiling will come at Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference, which will kick off June 5.
Whenever the release comes, Apple is expected to unveil the first 10.5-inch iPad Pro at that same time.
Magic Mouse/Trackpad Support?
A smattering of unsubstantiated reports indicate that support for Apple’s Magic Trackpad and Magic Mouse will be added to the Pro line of tablets. Of course, this could be more wishful thinking that anything else.
Still, Apple has been positioning the 12.9-inch iPad Pro as a laptop replacement, and most people are accustomed to using a mouse or touchpad with their laptop. Convincing potential buyers to change the way they work has always been a hurdle.
If this change comes, it might have to wait for iOS 11, which is expected next fall. Hopefully, the second-gen iPad Pro will be out before then.
Better Cameras and Display
The smaller version of the iPad Pro that hit the market last spring included some features that weren’t in the original, larger version; these are expected in the follow-up 12.9-inch iPad Pro.
The 9.7-inch model sports a 12-megapixel primary and a 5MP front camera, up from the 8MP and 1.2MP shooters in the original Pro iOS model. Although the cameras don’t often get heavy use on most tablets, the upgrade will likely come to the larger model.
In addition, Apple’s newer Pro slate includes a feature called True Tone, in which screen colors are adjusted to match ambient light. The display on the current 12.9-inch iPad Pro often looks much bluer than its environment, but its replacement apparently will fit in better.
3D Touch debuted in the iPhone line several years ago, and there’s speculation that the next generation of iPads will also get this additional system for interacting with the display through firm touches.
Faster Processor but No Headset Port
It’s expected that a feature from last fall’s iPhone 7 is also going to make the jump, or more specifically, the lack of a feature. No future Apple tablet is likely to have a 3.5mm headset port.
The company’s latest smartphone also marked the debut of the A10 Fusion, Apple’s first quad-core processor. This boasts two 64-bit 2.34 GHz CPU cores, along with a second slower pair dedicated to less demanding software, helping to extend battery life. Industry experts are predicting that the 12.9-inch iPad Pro (2017) will be built around an A10X Fusion processor, which will have a more powerful GPU designed to handle the higher screen resolution of a tablet. The current version has an Apple A9X chip, which sports two 64-bit 2.24 GHz cores.
This A10X Fusion processor is allegedly the reason why the release of second-gen 12.9-inch iPad Pro has been pushed back to the second half of this year: an unconfirmed report indicates that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has run into difficulties producing this 10nm-chip in sufficient amounts.
A signature feature of the iPhone 7 is water resistance; That is expected to be coming the Apple’s slates as well.
One of the highlights of the iPad Pro series is support for the Apple Pencil, a pressure-sensitive active pen for taking notes, sketching, and even painting on the tablet’s display in a range of software.
A second-generation version is supposedly in development with magnets strong enough to hold this accessory to the side of an iPad Pro.
Wider support for the Pencil may be coming in Apple’s own applications; users will supposedly be able to add handwritten notes to emails, or draw on web pages in Safari. If true, that latter feature would be borrowed from Microsoft’s Edge browser, which allows Windows 10 users to easily take a screenshot of a web page and then make annotations.
An open question is whether these additional features will become available at the same time as the new tablet, or if they will have to wait until the launch of iOS 11, expected next fall.
So far there have been no rumors that Apple intends the pick a new screen resolution for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro (2017), so it will apparently remain at 2732 by 1248 and a pixel density of 264 ppi.
The size of this upcoming tablet is also likely to remain consistent, so peripherals like the Apple Smart Keyboard will support the new model. The 4 GB of RAM and quad speakers aren’t expected to change either.
In addition, the second-generation iPad Pro is currently anticipated to debut at the same prices as the original, with the base model at $799 for 32GB of storage. The top-of-line version is $1129 for 256 GB of capacity and built-in 4G cellular data.