Later this month, it seems Apple will launch a new iPad, an iPad mini, the first new iPod for years and the long-awaited AirPower charging matand an updated version of AirPods. The new AirPods may even come with super-fast wireless charging.
Such a lot of hardware justifies one of Apple’s big, show-stopping events, right?
Maybe not. Although there’s not long to go before an expected Apple event in Cupertino later this month, probably on March 25 or 26, it increasingly looks like this will be a star-studded event to spotlight the new Apple TV and Apple News subscription services. The company may not want to distract from such a big new service announcement.
If that’s right, then the latest rumors suggest that Apple will reveal the new hardware separately, perhaps a few days before the Steve Jobs Theater shindig.
A new rumor has come to light from the supply chain. It was revealed by Macotakara and picked up by 9to5Mac and it makes for interesting reading.
Headphone jack to stay
The latest iPad Pro models released last October did away with the headphone jack (and it’s been some while since iPads came supplied with any headphones at all). But the supplier sources say that the next model will keep the 3.5mm headphone jack in its place.
Touch ID also remains
No switch to Face ID is another conclusion. This makes sense. We’re talking about an entry-level product. The current iPad is outstanding value ($329 and up) but Face ID is a pricey, premium component and it would be a surprise to see it on the least expensive tablet. After all, it’s not even on the iPad Pro 10.5in, which sells for around twice that, $649.
So, will the design change at all?
There has been a persistent rumor that Apple would increase the size of the new iPad display to 10in from the current 9.7in. Some sources have said it will be bigger than that, perhaps around 10.2in. Note though that one of the suppliers thought that the screen size won’t change at all.
If there is a bigger display size, then that means a new design, for sure. Or does it?
How about a 10.5in display?
Apple is extraordinarily canny about recycling its designs, something it does to great effect. Look no further than the iPhone 5s design which gained new life as the iPhone SE. Or the design of the current iPad which is a dead ringer for the original iPad Air.
In both cases, Apple took a design it had introduced with its flagship product a couple of years previously, and later re-imagined it for an entry-level machine.
It’s a real win-win for both Apple and us: there’s no significant design cost for Apple, and consumers are delighted to get a previously top-price look for much lower cost.
So, my guess – and for now it’s no more than that – is that when the next iPad is released it will either look identical to the current model or, and this is the more exciting possibility, will take on the shape, design, size and bigger screen of the current iPad Pro 10.5in.
After all, it’s the only iPad Pro with Touch ID and a headphone jack so it fits with the other rumors. And, to be frank, it does look a little out of place in the iPad Pro line-up.
Just imagine if the entry-level iPad traded up to a 10.5in display, plus the thinner bezels and altogether more premium look of the iPad Pro 10.5in such as the elegant antenna design on the Pro. Again, there are limited design costs for Apple, and it would make for a sensational entry-level tablet.
It’s true, Apple would have to retire the current iPad Pro 10.5in from the range, which it might not want to do just yet. After all, the company has kept the old MacBook Air in the current range alongside the new one.
So, what will happen?
This is far from certain. But it does tick all the boxes rumored elsewhere: Touch ID, headphone jack and a slightly larger display.
I’ll stick my neck out and say I think the suggestion of a 10.2in screen is wrong, as that would require a whole new design and that’s not Apple’s way with its most affordable products.
Right now, I’d say there’s just as big a chance that the next iPad will look identical to the current one, but with a beefed-up processor and so on. Given the price it sells for, this is still amazing and offers value no other tablet maker can match in terms of power, screen quality, build quality and so on.
But even more exciting would be a new iPad with a 10.5in display.
My guess is we’ll know in the next week or two, before the rumored Apple event with an expected release date of later this month, for the same $329 price as present. Then, expect the new iPad to be referenced at the keynote as the ideal way to read Apple News or watch Apple TV subscription programming.