Though rumors about this year’s iPhone get most of the headlines, what’s happening with the 2017 iPad lineup is also important. Here’s what we think we know about this year’s tablets.
A Very Big Year
On March 21, Apple introduced a new 9.7-inch budget tablet simply called iPad. In doing so, the company retired the iPad Air 2, which was first announced in 2014. Though we expect more 2017 iPads to follow, we don’t expect Apple to reveal them until this fall.
The iPad Pro line currently features two tablets, a 12.9-inch model, announced in October 2015, and a 9.7-inch version launched in March 2016.
In August 2016, Ming-Chi Kuo with KGI Securities noted that Apple was prepping three new iPad Pro devices for 2017. The analyst said this will include new 9.7-inch, 12.9-inch, and 10.5-inch models.
Two months later, Makotakara also said that Apple was prepping three new “Pro” tablets for 2017. At the time, they said this would include an all-new 10.5-inch iPad Pro, which could replace (or join) the current-generation 9.7-inch model. Alongside, they said we’d see a “7.9-inch iPad Pro” and second-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro.
Just as we’ve heard that the rumored 5.8-inch “iPhone 8” may be the only Apple handset in 2017 to receive a new design, so too could the 10.5-inch iPad Pro.
Again, it’s Makotakara with the story.
According to a November report from the Japanese website, the new iPad will ship bezel-free and without a Home button. Interestingly, this new tablet will use the same footprint as the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, retaining a top bezel for the front-facing FaceTime camera. The bottom bezel will be reduced in size, however.
At 7.5mm, a 10.9-inch iPad Pro would be slightly thicker than the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, although it would feature the same depth as the first iPad Air. The 9.7-inch iPad Pro has a thickness of 6.1mm.
Digitimes sources say the new 10.5-inch tablet will ship with an Apple-developed CPU A10X, which will also arrive on the next-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro.
In February, Macotakara said the 2017 iPad lineup would include four new iPad Pro models, measuring 7.9-, 9.7-, 10.5-, and 12.9-inches.
Current iPad lineup
- iPad (announced in March 2017)
- 9.7-inch iPad Pro (March 2016); may be replaced by 10.5-inch model
- 12.9-inch iPad Pro (November 2015); refresh coming soon
- iPad mini 4 (September 2015); future unknown, at best
Given the March launch of the iPad, we’re no longer convinced that Apple will ever release a next-generation 9.7-inch iPad Pro. Instead, it’s looking increasingly likely that the long-rumored 10.5-inch iPad Pro will replace the 9.7-inch iPad Pro as the company’s flagship tablet.
In doing so, the tablet lineup before the end of the year could include the budget iPad, the 10.5-inch iPad Pro, and the second-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro. We remain skeptical whether they’ll ever be another 7.9-inch iPad released, however.
An April report suggested Apple might replace the 12.9-inch iPad Pro in May.
We’ll update this post when necessary.