Apple's iPad has changed quite a bit over the last four years (yes, it's been four full years since we first laid eyes on the first generation iPad). Since 2010, Apple's tablet has evolved to the iPad Air and the iPad Mini. The two tablets, available in both WiFi and WiFi+cellular connectivity, form Apple's line of tablets. But could there be a new iPad coming soon?
Rumor has it that Apple is prepping its largest iPad yet. While Apple's iPad Air shares the same branding as the super slim MacBook Air, this new model is said to share the same branding as the more muscly MacBook Pro. So what can we expect from the iPad Pro? We've rounded up all the information we could find regarding this as-yet-unannounced device. We'll update this post as time goes on.
The iPad Pro will apparently be Apple's largest iPad yet. As such, the display is the most talked about aspect of the device. Rumor has it we can expect a display measuring just shy of 13 inches. The current iPad Air's display measures 9.7 inches, so this is going to be quite a jump in size. The current 13-inch MacBook Pro has a Retina display with a resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixels or 227 pixels per inch. Though the iPad Pro rumors haven't really developed to the point where we can start talking about screen resolutions, it's hard to imagine Apple shipping a non-Retina display panel when all of the current generation MacBook Pros have a Retina display. One interesting rumor from late last year suggests 'near UHD quality.'
There is talk that Apple's iPad Pro might actually be a hybrid device. Not hard to picture, given it will carry the Pro branding. Consider the fact that Apple has been advertising the iPad as a 'work on the go' device since its launch, and it seems like a no-brainer. That leaves us wondering how Apple is going to implement this 'hybrid' functionality. Will it be a dock, like the Transformer Prime from Asus, or will Apple go for a more elegant solution, like Microsoft's Surface and its Type Cover?
Again, there isn't a whole lot of information available about the hardware powering this large tablet, but the company's recent A7 chip is built on the 28 nm process and boasts a 1.4 GHz dual-core CPU with PowerVR G6430 graphics (450 MHz). This 64-bit chip powers the iPad Air. While it might not be powerful enough for a 'Pro' iPad, we're already hearing rumors about Apple's A8 SoC. At the end of January, DigiTimes reported that the next processor is rumored to be a package-on-package SoC with processors and mobile DRAM in one package.
Apple's iOS 7.1 update is due in March and will bring some enhancements as well as bug fixes. If Apple introduces the iPad Pro this year, it's likely it will ship with iOS 7. However, it's also possible Apple will tweak iOS just for the iPad Pro or even ship the device with OS X. This will probably depend on the nature of the iPad Pro and its target audience. If Apple is just looking to offer a beefed up tablet, then this device will probably still use the same version of iOS we see on the iPad Air and Mini. If Apple is truly going for the business user, it may need to add OS X or at least tweak iOS to make the device more of a productivity tool.
If you were hoping to see an iPad Pro before the end of the year, you might be disappointed. On March 5, the International Business Times cited KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said he believed Apple was pushing the release of the iPad Pro to next year so it could focus on the iPad Air. While Kuo said we can expect an iPad Air 2 this year, fans of the mini won’t see a 2014 iPad Mini.