5G iPad Pro said to be in the works, but maybe not for 2020

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Apple could be working on a 5G iPad Pro. Sources cited by Digitimes said the company is working on an iPad that supports mmWave technology.

5G iPad Pro said to be in the works

The Digitimes report is behind a paywall, but MacRumors reports that Taiwan-based Advanced Semiconductor Engineering will provide the antenna-in-package technology for the tablet and 5G-equipped iPhones. Although Digitimes does not state that the iPad in question will be a Pro model, it makes sense that it would be because 5G support is still a more expensive feature that comes with greater production costs.

We’ve heard numerous times that the iPhone 12 line-up will feature 5G later this year, but Digitimes did not say when the 5G iPad Pro will be released. It’s common for big new features to be added to the iPhone line-up before they make it into any iPad models, although that isn’t a hard and fast rule. MacRumors notes that the third-generation iPad got support for LTE in March 2012—before the iPhone 5 with LTE support was released later that year.

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What is mmWave technology?

Another significant part of the report about the 5G iPad Pro is that it will supposedly support mmWave, which is short for millimeter wave. mmWave is a specific range of 5G frequencies that will offer extremely fast speeds within short distances. The mmWave frequencies would be perfect for use in dense urban regions.

On the other hand, sub-6 GHz 5G is slower, but it can travel longer distances, which makes it better for rural and suburban areas, according to MacRumors. WCCFtech explains that it might make sense for Apple to make a 5G iPad Pro with mmWave support but not sub-6 GHz support because the company could be targeting cities where the 5G rollout is in the early stages. It could take a bit longer for 5G networks to be expanded outside major cities, which could be why Apple might favor mmWave technology over the longer-range sub-6 GHz 5G.

For more information on how 5G differs from LTE technology, you can check out our guide here.

Other possible features

We have heard other rumors about upcoming iPad models. IHS Markit suggested last year that Apple was working on a foldable 5G iPad Pro model. IHS said Apple had to release an iPhone model with 5G support before it released a foldable iPad with 5G support, however.

It does seem a bit early to start hearing about a 5G iPad Pro, given that Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo doesn’t expect it to be available until next year. We also heard last year that Apple may have been working on an iPad with a display that would be about the size of a small MacBook. However, that rumor came from Chinese media, and it hasn’t been widely repeated since then.