When will the iPad Pro 2 come out in the UK? (Or whatever they call the next version of the iPad Pro.) And what new features will be added to the 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch versions of the iPad Pro 2?
The iPad Pro 2 could launch soon. Apple made a splash last September when it unveiled its first 10-inch-plus tablet: a device known at the time only as the iPad Pro with a blockbuster 12.9-inch screen, quad speakers and a super-quick processor chip. The following March a smaller and better version of the iPad Pro came out, creating mild naming complications (we now call them the iPad Pro 12.9 and iPad Pro 9.7 respectively) and causing a certain degree of regret in the hearts of early adopters.
But we are now looking ahead to the future of the iPad Pro line. When will Apple launch the iPad Pro 2, and what new features and design changes will this product incorporate? Will there be separate 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch editions of the iPad Pro 2 - will there even be a 7.9-inch model, a sort of 'iPad Pro mini'?
Our iPad Pro 2 release date & new features rumour roundup article weighs up all the clues and evidence about the new iPad Pro models, as well as our wishlist of new features that are missing from the current generation of iPad Pro hardware. Check back regularly for the latest iPad Pro 2 rumours.
Updated 20 July 2016 with processor rumours.
iPad Pro 2 rumours: iPad Pro 2 launch date
The iPad Pro 2 wasn't teased or even announced at WWDC 2016, which is what we expected given the previous announcements and release dates of the iPad Pro line.
When will the next iPad Pro come out in the UK?
As with the two strands of iPhone models - the larger 6s and 6s Plus, last updated in September, and the smaller SE, updated in March - there are two schools of thought here. Either Apple will unify the two Pro brands into a single annual update event (most likely in autumn), or it will continue to update half the models in autumn and the other half in spring 2017.
Both theories have down sides.
If Apple does a full refresh (9.7-in and 12.9-inch together) in March 2017, then the current hardware will be starting to feel old before then - the original Pro will be 18 months old, which is a long time to be the most expensive tablet on Apple's books. It the company does a full refresh in September then it will again upset a bunch of people who just bought new devices. Three major iPad updates in the space of 12 months might just be taking the mickey.
(This might seem irrational - the launch of a new product doesn't make the product you already own any worse - but there's still something annoying about paying top dollar for a flagship product and then seeing something much better come out a short while later. We are only human, and if you pay for the best product then it would be nice to have the best product, at least from that manufacturer, for a year.)
Maybe a better option would be for Apple to keep the two lines separate. But potential buyers are going to be naturally wary if new 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2 models appear in September 2016 - they will wonder, understandably, if all the new features and a few extra will appear in a cheaper 9.7-inch Pro 2 six months later. There's also something a bit messy, a bit un-Apple, about having two press event to announce what would essentially amount to two SKUs of the same product line. I think the company will want to keep things simple.
So here's a new theory - a sort of compromise. Apple does an update in September 2016 but it's explicitly a minor update - just to bring the Pro 12.9 up to the standards of the 9.7. You could call it the iPad Pro 12.9 with True Tone display, or not even rebrand it at all - just mention it at the end of the iPhone press event. "From now on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro comes with the True Tone display and improved cameras of the 9.7-inch model."
No price change, no big deal. Then the iPad Pro 2 proper comes out in March 2017, and from then on is updated on a yearly basis.
A final thought, however, is that people don't update their iPads as often as their iPhones: only 6 percent of the respondents to our poll said they get a new iPad every year.
It's therefore debatable whether Apple actually needs to bring out new iPads this often. It could probably switch to a biennial release schedule without causing much of a problem.
Following the launch of the 9.7-inch Pro it's now firmly established that the Pro brand doesn't just refer to Apple's biggest tablets - instead, it refers to a set of specs and features and, in a way that's hard to define, any tablet that sits at the top of Apple's range. If we accept that a 9.7-inch tablet can be an iPad Pro, could we get a 7.9-inch Pro as well?
The truth is that there's no concrete reason why there can't be a 7.9-inch iPad Pro 2, but for various reasons we still don't expect Apple to do this. For one thing, unlike the Air line-up, the minis are still being updated; the mini 4 came out at the same event as the first iPad Pro, which suggests that Apple plans to keep both brands going at the same time. And besides, the Pro brand has always existed in opposition to a lower-end alternative: the MacBook Pro sits opposite the MacBook Air (and plain MacBook); the Mac Pro opposite the iMac; and so on. Apple can't just call every tablet a Pro.
We're starting to suspect that the Air brand may be phased out across Apple's laptop and tablet departments, but there still needs to be two lines left in each of these areas. Apple still sell a MacBook Pro and a 12-inch MacBook, we expect; in the same way, we'd expect there to be iPad Pro models and iPad mini models.
To read more about the iPad mini 5 - or the iPad Pro mini, if we're wrong about this - then take a look at our iPad mini 5 rumour roundup.
iPad Pro 2 rumours: New features wishlist
The iPad Pro tablets are great, but they're not perfect. Here are a few new features and design tweaks we'd like to see in the second-gen iPad Pro.
Carry the advances of the 9.7in Pro across to the 12.9in model
An issue we've addressed several times across this article concerns the disappointment felt by a number of 12.9-inch iPad Pro owners when the cheaper and in many respects better 9.7-inch iPad Pro was launched six months later. So the first thing we'd ask for is consistency. To achieve this the larger Pro model needs to get:
- A 12-megapixel rear-facing camera (up from 8Mp)
- A 5Mp front-facing camera (up from 1.2Mp)
- 4K video recording
- Live Photos
- Display with True Tone and 'wide colour'
- A 32GB cellular buying option
- A pink colour option
Better keyboard accessory (for 9.7-inch model)
The Pros are explicitly aimed at business users, and for this reason it was critical to get some good keyboard accessories.
Apple's own Smart Keyboard is a strong offering in the larger size - even though it's expensive, and Macworld is divided on the issue of whether Logitech's less attractive Create keyboard offers a better typing experience - but the 9.7-inch version is a different matter. As a result of the smaller keys typing accuracy is weaker; the lower weight means it feels less satisfying under the fingers. (The design looks great, however, and is magnificently slim and light from a portability point of view. And the Smart Connector - and the fact that you never have to worry about battery life - is wonderful too.)
We feel that Apple needs to create - or persuade a third-party accessory maker to create - a 9.7-inch keyboard you can really type on. And this may involve some compromises. It may need to have a foldout design (sounds ugly, right?) so that it could fit in larger keys. It might need to be heavier (thereby reducing portability) in order to feel better and reduce movement on the desk. But whatever happens, the smaller Pro needs an updated accessory line-up in order to compete as a business tool.
Read next: Best iPad keyboards
More Home screen icons
This is a software change rather than a hardware one, but it's frustrating that Apple doesn't allow you to fit more app icons on the screen of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. At present you're allowed 20 app icons (or folders), plus up to six in the Dock, and this is exactly the same that you're allowed on the 9.7-inch iPads, which feels like a waste of the extra space.
By default, the icons are the same size, so there's far more empty space on the screen. You can select a zoom view, with larger icons, but we'd prefer the option to have a grid of 5x6 icons, plus a seventh icon in the Dock.
Update 7 July 2016: With iOS 10 Beta 2 recently adding extra functionalities, we expect to see it included with the iPad Pro 2. Read more about iOS 10 in our dedicated article: iOS 10 release date, new features & supported iPhones & iPads.
We expect the new iPad Pro 2, to ship with iOS 10 pre-installed. The new mobile operating system from Apple was announced at WWDC 2016. The new iOS brings over 100 new and updated features, which add new functionalities to iDevices running on it.
With the public beta set to come out in July and the final release in September 2016, we expect to see the iPad Pro 2 shipped with the latest operating system. Although there are no special iPad-only features that have yet been announced or discovered on iOS 10.
There are rumours to suggest that the processor to be included within the iPad Pro 2 will be the A10X, an upgraded A9X built on a smaller FinFET technology. If this is to be the case, the rumours would suggest that a 2016 release is increasingly unlikely.
This would point towards a potential release date of spring 2017, with a new 10nm processor included within the iPad Pro 2.
Might we also see 4K (3840x2160) recording abilities? Some rumours suggest that the feature will be integrated within the OS, as the likes of the Nvidia and AMD mobile-generation graphics cards might make an appearance within the iPad Pro 2.
Turn to the next page to read our original predictions for the first-generation iPad Pro models.