Last year, Apple refreshed its tablet line with the release of the iPad Pro, a bigger, more powerful version of the company’s iPad series. With an improved resolution, faster processing speeds, and more intuitive touchscreen features, the iPad Pro was a well-received improvement to the iPad series. However, in the next couple of years, the Cupertino-based company’s tablet range could see even bigger changes.
According to reports, well-respected and connected KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo stated that he believes Apple will release the new iPad Pro 2 with a new size point in 2017. This brand-new iPad is expected to have a 10.5-inch screen, sitting comfortably between the upcoming 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2 and a lower cost 9.7-inch model.
“We expect three new iPads (12.9” iPad Pro 2, new size 10.5” iPad Pro & low-cost 9.7” iPad) to be launched in 2017, though this may not drive shipment growth amid structural headwinds; 2017F shipments to fall 10-20% YoY,” stated Kuo. “If the iPad comes in a larger size, such as a 10.5” model, we believe it will be helpful to bid for tenders within the commercial and education markets.”
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Kuo stated that he expects the iPad series to follow a conservative hardware evolution going into 2017, with Apple preparing three next-generation models largely similar in design to existing units.
Three new iPad Pro models
The upcoming 12.9- and 10.5-inch iPad Pro 2 models are expected to be powered by an Apple-designed A10X system-on-chip built using Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company’s 10nm process. The 9.7-inch iPad Pro model will most likely continue using the same A9X chip as the current generation’s models, setting it as the lower-end, lower-cost option in the series.
Ming-Chi Kuo continues to state that Apple’s 10.5-inch iPad Pro 2 will serve as a replacement for the 9.7-inch size point. Next year’s lower cost will carry over using the same A9X processor until the next generation, at which point is will likely receive the A10X chip. It will most likely be released sometime in early 2018.
iPad sales have been slumping as of late for Apple, and despite hardware refreshes and the introduction of a 10.5-inch iPad Pro 2, Kuo predicts that they will continue on their downward slide until the entire product line is revamped sometime in 2018. Upon releasing the 9.7-inch iPad Pro in April, the company received its best sales results in ten quarters during the third fiscal quarter of 2016, although overall iPad sales are still on the decline.
It’s worth noting that Kuo does not mention a 7.9-inch iPad mini in his report. This could mean that the analyst does not have any complete predictions regarding the smaller iPad, but it could also mean that there is a possibility that the iPad mini series could be phased out as demand for larger models increases.
iPad due for an update
As for 2018, Kuo predicts that it will be a year of change and reinvigoration for the entire iPad product line. According to Kuo’s predictions, Apple is working on a flexible AMOLED panel along with a number of hardware upgrades, all of which could serve as technology that opens the door to more intuitive user interfaces. “Revolutionary iPad model likely to be introduced in 2018F at the earliest, with radical changes in form factor design & user behavior on adoption of flexible AMOLED panel,” writes Kuo.
While these rumors are certainly early and should be taken with a grain of salt, it seems that the iPad series, especially the upcoming iPad Pro 2, will be undergoing some exciting changes in the upcoming months and years.