Life continues during the crisis that grips the planet. It now looks more likely than ever that Apple plans to introduce new iPad Pro models. These new machines promise a lot, particularly in the run-up to WWDC 2020 (online).
The March event that wasn’t
There’s no doubt that Apple has scrapped any plans to hold a big launch event in March, meaning any announcements it had intended to make will be dribbled out using press releases.
Up next would have been the new iPhone 9 (also available in Pro), new iPad Pro models, a new MacBook Air with a new and improved keyboard and more, possibly including the newly introduced Powerbeats 4 models.
There have been claims the iPhone launch has been delayed as Apple’s global supply chain shudders on the impact of the coronavirus, but it also appears the company will introduce new Apple tablets.
- A regulatory filing at the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) describes a new iPad model (A2229) that will run iPadOS 13. The EEC requires that companies register new electronic devices in advance of release, so this is pretty strong evidence of an imminent launch.
- The second piece of data as reported by the iPhone in Canada blog is more compelling. Apple’s Chinese website published a new iPad Pro user manual (in Chinese, now removed) that describes new 11- and 12.9-inch iPad Pros in both Wi-Fi and Cellular versions. Model numbers include the A2229 listed by the EEC, along with A2228, A2231 and A2233 models. This follows 9to5Mac’s discovery of leaked code, which also suggests new models.
- There are also claims that iOS 13.4, which includes support for universal apps, may ship this week, potentially also including software support for new Apple devices.
What to expect from the iPad Pro refresh?
None of these leaks tell us much about these new machines, other than their size and the existence of both Wi-Fi and cellular versions, but here’s what we think we know:
- The inclusion of a rear triple-lens camera as used in the iPhone 11 Pro.
- This will likely be a 12MP f/2.0 camera with telephoto, ultrawide and standard lenses.
- 3D depth sensing as well as time of flight.
- Introduction of the mysterious U1 chip, also features in the iPhone 11.
- Powered by the superb iPhone 11 A13 Bionic processor, which delivers better performance than many laptops.
- Improved network connectivity (Wi-Fi, cellular) thanks to a new antenna technology.
- Potential of a new display technology, though there is confusion as to what – OLED or miniLED, which suggests thinner devices and better battery life – though this may be later in the year.
The new iPads may hint at Apple’s approach to putting one of its own A-series chips inside a future Mac model, and will certainly be capable of running any future iPadOS that may be part of that journey.
There have been claims the company plans a new Smart Keyboard for iPads equipped with a built-in trackpad – could this be some form of Mac/iPad hybrid? An improved Apple Pencil with additional functions may appear. These speculations alone will generate some interest among Apple users.
The new machines may also appeal to a new demographic. They may be all the PC required for some enterprises now moving to upgrade their ancient Windows 7 machines, particularly at a time in which work has become more remote and more mobile.
iPhone 9 release now later this year?
Apple had been expected to introduce iPhone 9 devices this month, but this may be delayed. Smartphone sales are reportedly down across all markets, while Apple’s retail stores outside of China are now closed “until further notice.”
The phones were originally expected in March 2020, but continued supply and logistical problems, economic meltdown and the evaporation of global consumer confidence means their introduction may now not take place until later this year, along with the iPhone 12. It seems Apple plans two iPhone 9 models, the iPhone 9 and iPhone 9 Plus. Like the iPhone 11, these are expected to field A13 Bionic chips and biometric authentication.
All the same, the indications are that Apple wants to try to maintain market activity with new product introductions during the current emergency, but the wider economic and desperate human consequences of current events remain to be seen.
While analysts believe the company will still see recovery when it introduces 5G iPhones later this year, short-term prospects remain relatively gloomy, and Apple must do what it usually does in tough times, dig deep and keep inventing.
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