New iPad rumors: Four new models may be announced next week

Leah Yamshon
14 March, 2017
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The northern spring is just around the corner, which means we’re likely getting close to another Apple event — and the rumour mill is starting to churn. As first spotted by MacRumors, Japanese site Mac Otakara recently claimed that Apple will host an event in March with its new iPad Pro lineup in the starring role.

From now until then, rumours about that lineup will swirl, and we’ll collect them all here and add our two cents, right up until the moment the new models are unveiled onstage.

What’s the latest?

The rumour: Apple is testing new iPad models around Cupertino, according to Fiksu, a mobile marketing firm that tracks app usage. According to Fiksu’s data logs, some of its client apps are being installed on four new iPads with different model numbers. Before the launch of the iPad Pro, Fiksu spotted similar testing on four new models, as well, that ended up being the 12.9-inch iPad Pro and its 9.7-inch variation. This time, the new iPad models are running either the latest iOS 10.3 beta or a yet-to-be-released version of iOS 11. Additionally, a supply chain analyst told MacRumors that Apple is expected to announce new products the week of 20 March.

Plausible? Apple has traditionally held a spring event to launch new hardware, like the Apple Watch and the iPhone SE. And this year, rumour has it that new iPad Pro sizes are to be expected as Apple’s spring product launch. However, 20 March is just a few days away and no invitations have gone out, so either Apple will launch these rumoured iPads without an accompanying event, or we won’t be getting new iPads until April.

Redesigned 10.5-inch iPad Pro in May or June?

The rumour: Previously, we’ve heard that Apple will expand the iPad Pro to four sizes, including a 7.9-inch version (the same size as the iPad mini), the current 9.7- and 12.9-inch versions, and a new 10.5-inch size. On Friday, MacRumors reported on a DigiTimes claim that the 10.5- and 12.9-inch models could ship in May or June, while the 9.7-inch version would be ready soon after the event in March.

Plausible? Since 10.5-inch iPad Pro is rumoured to have pretty major design changes, a later ship date could be a necessary evil. As MacRumors points out, retail supplies of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro are starting to dry up, which does hint at an iPad refresh just around the corner.

A new iPad Pro size

The rumour: When we first heard about a new iPad Pro size, it was 10.1 inches, but a more recent rumour reported in Mac Otakara claims that the new size is in fact 10.5 inches diagonal. Either way, the new in-between iPad may have an edge-to-edge display with no Home button, to keep the same footprint as the current 9.7-inch size.

Plausible? iPad sales haven’t seen much growth lately, so a new size could be just what’s needed to shake up the lineup, but Apple will need to convince buyers that this new model offers some kind of benefit. Perhaps Apple will position the 10.5-inch model futuristic, forward-looking glimpse at where the iOS lineup is heading, while keeping the rest of the lineup at more familiar sizes and price points.

New iPad mini or 7.9-inch iPad Pro?

The rumour: This rumour is promising for iPad mini fans — Japanese site Mac Otakara says that the March event will include a new 7.9-inch iPad. But it sounds like this smaller iPad is part of the Pro line. The 7.9-inch iPad Pro is rumoured to have a Smart Connector, True Tone display, and a 12-megapixel rear-facing camera — which will be standard features across the whole iPad Pro lineup.

Plausible? Absolutely — and this kind of feature parity is frankly a great idea, so people can pick an iPad based on what size and storage they want for their money, not whether they need this feature or that.

What else the March event could hold

The rumour: While the iPad Pro lineup will headline the March event, the same Mac Okatara report claims that Apple has a couple of other refreshes waiting in the wings, including a 128GB iPhone SE, new Apple Watch bands, and a PRODUCT(RED) version of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, which means half the proceeds go to the Global Fund to fight AIDS.

Plausible? Indeed, new Apple Watch bands should probably be expected at every Apple product launch. The iPhone SE’s popularity took everyone by surprise, but it currently tops out at 64GB, so a larger version could prove quite attractive, even if it doesn’t also come with a faster chip or camera upgrade. And Apple’s PRODUCT(RED) iPods all look incredible, so we love the thought of a shiny red iPhone that helps a worthwhile charity.

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