Apple remains optimistic about the future of iPads, even though the iPad sales have been declining consistently for almost three years. The company was previously rumored to launch a 10.5-inch iPad Pro 2 at its March event, which didn’t materialize. Supply chain leaks revealed that Apple began mass production of the 10.5-inch model in March-April, which would point to a June launch of the tablet.

iPad Pro 2
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10.5-inch iPad Pro 2 to be unveiled at WWDC?

Citing supply chain sources, Taiwanese publication DigiTimes reported that Apple partners have further ramped up production of the 10.5-inch iPad Pro 2. Monthly shipments are set to go up from 500,000 units currently to 600,000 units by July. Market watchers expect the annual shipment to surpass five million units this year. The increase in production indicates that its launch is imminent.

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said earlier this month there was a “70% chance” that Apple would unveil the 10.5-inch iPad Pro 2 at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) next month. Its form factor will be similar to the current 9.7-inch model despite featuring a bigger display, thanks to narrower bezels. Its design will offer a sneak peek into the 10th anniversary iPhone 8 design, which is expected to have a bezel-less OLED display.

The iPad Pro 2, or whatever Apple chooses to call it, will have an all screen display. The home button will be eliminated and the fingerprint sensor will be embedded in the display. However, it will be interesting to see how users will hold it in hands. Recently, 9to5Mac had spotted a listing for “iPad 10.5” in an accessories maker’s inventory display.

However, John Gruber of Daring Fireball predicts that the 10.5-inch iPad Pro 2 is unlikely to launch before the iPhone 8. Given the two devices will have a similar edge-to-edge display, Apple wouldn’t want to spoil the party for its most valuable product. The iPhone 8 is expected to be announced in September. The iPad Pro 2 is expected to feature an A10X processor, 12MP rear camera, and 4K video recording.

iPad Mini to be phased out

DigiTimes also revealed that mass production for the upgraded version of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro would begin in June. Stable shipments will begin in the third quarter, added the publication. Demand for the 9.7-inch iPad is expected to pick up by the end of the second quarter, and will hit the peak during Q3. Despite the launch of new tablets, experts say the iPad sales would decline this year compared to 2016.

The rumor mill claims that Apple will eventually phase out the iPad Mini due to the rising popularity of phablets. The Plus variant of iPhones is only slightly smaller than the iPad Mini. It makes little sense for users to buy an iPad Mini. Apple’s new tablet lineup will be the iPad and iPad Pro.

Ming-Chi Kuo believes that Apple would also unveil the much-rumored Siri Speaker at the WWDC. The Siri Speaker, which is set to compete against the Amazon Echo, will have a touch panel display. Apple employees have been testing it for the past several months.