Apple has launched one new iPad so far in 2018, but fans are still waiting for the next generation of iPad Pro. It seems they won't have long to wait - the new iPad Pro will soon be upon us, with an event confirmed for 30 October.
All the rumours and leaks suggest we can expect two new iPad Pro models with an entirely new iPhone X-inspired design (as indicated at by changes to icons representing the iPad, and other assets, in iOS 12). The new iPad Pros are expected to have edge-to-edge displays and use Face ID like the iPhone X line, making them the first iPads ever without a home button, but they won't have a notch as there will be room for the Face ID tech at the top of the device. Face ID will apparently work in both portrait and landscape (although not upside down). Plus, it is thought that the iPad Pro will feature USB-C rather than the lightning port!
In this article we gather together all the rumours about new iPad Pro (possibly iPad X Max) models for 2018, covering their specs, features, design, pricing and release date. If you're interested in smaller and cheaper tablets, see our iPad mini 5 rumours (we're sorry to say we don't think there will be a new one), and for buying tips read our iPad buying guide and roundup of the best iPad deals.
The above image was 'leaked' by Benks who make screen protectors, it's most likely a model based on leaked dimensions, rather than the final unit, but we'll have to wait and see...
New iPad Pro: Release date
The new iPad Pro models will appear at the end of October 2018 at Apple's 30 October event.
The event will, unusually, be held in Brooklyn, New York and it's expected we'll see new iPad Pros. Given the Apple Pencil-drawn style invite this is likely to be the case.
New iPad Pro: Price
The iPad Pro 10.5in (2017) starts at £619 in the UK for the 64GB with Wi-Fi model, while the 12.9in model starts at £769. (In the US the prices are $649/$799.) We would expect Apple to pitch its 2018 updates at around the same point but this may depend on currency fluctuations and production changes.
However, it is possible that the new iPad Pro could cost more than previously - as was the case when Apple introduced the iPhone X in 2017, with the price coming in at over £1000/$1000, although as Apple's Tim Cook said, because people tend to pay for their iPhone on a contract they don't normally have to pay £1000/$1000 up front, on that basis we wouldn't expect Apple to charge as much for the iPad.
Another reason why prices might rise is currancy fluctuations. Apple bumped up the prices of most of its products in the UK as the pound weakened following the Brexit referendum result in 2016, and it is possible that prices may rise again while the pound continues to struggle.
It looks like the iPad Pro will take inspiration from the design of the iPhone X - so you can expect smaller bezels, a bigger screen, and no Home button. But what else is likely to change in terms of design? We investigate below.
No Home button and no notch
Apple is expected to bring across some of the design changes from the iPhone X to the iPad lineup in 2018 - namely the removal of the Home button. This is strongly supported by code in iOS 12 that suggests that elements of the iPad interface will mirror the iPhone X and its successors.
Furthermore, the new iPad icon in the iOS 12 beta strongly suggests a iPad redesign is in the works at Apple. The Home button is missing from the new iPad icon, which you can see below.
The removal of the Home Button isn't necessarily a surprise. However, the icon does seem to suggest that there will be no iPhone style notch, which probably means that Apple is able to incorporate the Face ID camera and associated components into the bezel at the top of the device.
Bloomberg's sources back in November 2017 expected "at least one" new iPad model to ditch the Home button and go for an edge-to-edge screen, replacing Touch ID with Face ID.
This image (below) posted by Twitter by Benjamin Geskin seeme to indicate that the iPad Pro will have no Home button or Notch, if the image is legitimate.
Thanks to the smaller bezels and the removal of the Home button, you can also expect the screen on the new devices to be bigger.
The current iPad Pro is available in two screen sizes: a 12.9in and a 10.5in version.
It seems that by removing the home button and slimming down the bezels the new iPad Pro model will enable Apple to push the screen size of the 10.5in model closer to 11in.
A Chinese report back in March 2018 claimed that an 11in iPad Pro is on the way, along with the 12.9in version.
That suggests that the larger 12.9in iPad Pro would be no larger than it is currently - but it may be the case that Apple is able to make the dimensions of that model smaller while still accommodating the larger screen.
Smaller bezels may mean the iPads themselves can be smaller. A report on Japanese site Macotakara claims the dimensions of the 10.5in model will go from 250.6 x 174.1 x 6.1mm to 247.5 x 178.7 x 6mm, while the 12.9-inch device will shrink from 305.7 x 220.6 x 6.9mm to 280 x 215 x 6.4mm.
That suggests the 12.9in model will maintain screen size while shrinking in terms of dimensions, while the smaller model will gain a larger screen without getting much bigger.
The iPad Pro may also be thinner - an image shared by Ben Geskin, but later deleted, indicates that new iPad Pro will be 5.86mm thick (the current 10.5in model is 6.1mm thick).
Rounded corners, but straight sides?
We expect the device itself to have rounded corners, but there is increasing evidence to suggest that, like the iPhone X, the new iPad's screen will follow the curves of the chassis, as shown in the concept illustration below.
The icon found in the iOS 12 beta appeared to hint at a very slight rounding at the corners of the screen, but it was too small to be sure. However, another asset has since been discovered and it seems more conclusive.
The asset is a UI mask for rounding the corners of app interfaces, and its shape is unmistakable.
An image shared by Ben Geskin on Twitter (below) in mid October seemed to indicate that the new iPad Pro could have straight, rather than curved sides. The iPad has had curved sides since 2011 so it seems an unlikey design choice. Geskin later removed the images from Twitter so it seems that they were found not to be legitimate.
The Galaxy Tab S4 went on sale on 10 August 2018 and is likley to be big competition for Apple's iPad.
The Tab S4 has a Super AMOLED screen with a pixel density of 287ppi (2560x1600 resolution). It ships with a stylus too. We compare the twotablets here: iPad Pro v Samsung Galaxy Tab S4.
So, will Apple be able to match the screen on the S4? Bloomberg's sources back in November 2017 didn't expect this screen to be OLED. They don't say why not, but after the production difficulties (and supply shortages) that the iPhone X's OLED screen seemingly caused, the company may be shy of going all in on the technology just yet.
We're seeing the first concept illustrations of the 2018 iPads. Remember that these are entirely unofficial: they're designs that people unconnected to Apple have come up with as a way of visualising the most popular rumours.
Here are some images from the ever-creative Martin Hajek, who has gone for an edge-to-edge, Home-button-free, notched-screen design for the next iPad Pro model. He calls it the iPad Pro X, but while it makes use of the WWDC 2018 artwork it was not announced at WWDC.
Hajek has released a number of image sets on this theme. In an earlier set he added a smart new Apple Pencil that looks great in black and silver.
The following image was shared on Twitter by Ben Geskin, the Thursday 9 November could be his best guess at when it will arrive.
I look forward to this iPad ? pic.twitter.com/43SRP6NAnw— Ben Geskin (@VenyaGeskin1) October 11, 2018
Benks published a few images of the supposed iPad Pro on it's website, including the one earlier in this article, and this one, below:
Tech specs and new features
Let's look next at the other changes in the new iPad Pros.
Back in October 2017, KGI Securities analyst Mini-Chi Kuo predicted that the new iPad Pro would include the TrueDepth Camera for Animoji and Face ID.
Further evidence of an iPhone X-style iPad came from developer Steven Troughton-Smith who on 5 July tweeted that he had spotted more evidence that Apple will launch an iPad with Face ID.
Troughton-Smith has tweeted his discovery of an iPad version of AvatarKit - the software that Animoji uses.
New in iOS 12: AvatarKit comes to iPad. Still requires a TrueDepth camera to do face tracking, though, i.e. an iPad with Face ID pic.twitter.com/9TvP2vsP6X— Steve Troughton-Smith (@stroughtonsmith) July 3, 2018
If the iPad is to offer Animoji it follows that it will be equipped with a TrueDepth camera.
Apparently the Face ID camera will be capable of recognising users even if the device is held in landscape - developer Guilherme Rambo noted this when he found code in the beta that indicated that Face ID will work in landscape orientation.
Further evidence that Face ID will work in landscape also came in the iOS 12.1 beta. Steve Troughton-Smith tweeted code that showed that Face ID has support for landscape orientation.
Face ID has support for landscape orientation (presumably for iPad only), and iOS 12.1 seems to care a lot more about whether an external display is connected (perhaps due to iPad USB-C rumors; it won't have the Lighting HDMI adapter as an intermediary for video-out)— Steve Troughton-Smith (@stroughtonsmith) September 18, 2018
A 9to5 report on 8 October also confirmed (via its sources) that Face ID on the new iPad Pro will work in both portrait and landscape orientations, though it won’t work upside down and the setup process must still be completed in portrait orientation.
There are also clues in the Accessibility settings in iOS 12 that appear to confirm Face ID's presence. A report from Japanese supply chain site, Mac Otakara, in July, suggested that Apple was facing difficulties getting Face ID to work in landcape orientation. Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman has also indicated that the new iPad Pro will offer horizontal Face ID support.
What's not clear is whether the iPad Pro will be able to use Face ID in landscape thanks to a hardware or software change - and if it's the latter, it that will mean that the feature could come to the iPhone X, XS, XS Max, and XR.
iPad Pro models generally include a modified version of the processor in the preceding iPhone - for example, the iPhone 7 came used an A10 Fusion chip while the iPads got an A10X Fusion.
The iPhone XS uses the A12 Bionic processor, so we'd expect the iPad Pro models released in 2018 to feature a slightly souped-up A12X Bionic processor. According to the 9to5 report on 8 October, it wil be a A12X processor and the processor’s part number is T8027, codename Vortex.
The iPad that launched earlier in 2018 uses the A10 chip.
A DigiTimes report in August 2018 suggests that the new iPad Pro models will ship with a new USB Type-C, 18W power adapter that will speed up charging.
Then on 10 September, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted that the new iPad Pro will ditch the Lightning port in favour of USB-C, and will ship with a new 18W USB-C charger.
The 8 October 9to5Mac report confirmed that there will be a USB-C port on the 2018 iPad Pro and it will be able to output 4K HDR video to external displays. Apparently a new panel in the settings app will allow users to control resolution, HDR, brightness and other settings for connected external displays.
If the iPad Pro can output 4K video via the USC C port, we wonder if it could be hooked up to a TV screen? This could be an interesting scenario in conjunction with Apple's plans for TV content.
If you are concerned that the iPad will follow the lead of the iPhone and drop the headphone jack you should have no reason to fear. Japanese site Macotakara claims that Apple won't be bundling a Lightning-to-3.5mm adapter with the iPad Pro - which suggests that the 3.5mm jack will be present on the device.
However, other reports suggest that Apple will ditch the headphone jack with the new iPad Pro models. And that it won't include a Lightning to 3.5mm headphone adapter in the box...
According to 9to5Mac, the new iPad Pro will have a brand new Magnetic Connector for accessories. This will be located at the back of the iPad and will allow for the connection of different accessories, such as a new version of the Smart Keyboard and other third-party accessories.
There were earlier reports that the Smart Connector would be relocated from the side of the iPad (which enables the iPad to be used with a keyboard in landscape orientation) to the bottom of the device, just above the lightning port.
There are a few reasons why that scenario seemed unlikely. First, it would be illogical to take away the option of typing in landscape mode. The 'leaked' images that seem to indicate the relocation of the port also see it moved to the back of the device - which again is illogical because how would the keyboard connect?
Then there is the suggestion is that Apple is doing this because it wants people to use the iPad in portrait orientation because Face ID won't work in landscape. Which is just ridiculous if you ask us!
Here's the so called evidence, either way:
A CAD image from OnLeaks also showed a new outline on the back of the iPad.
Just got my hands on a purported 2018 iPad Pro CAD showing a unknown thing located on the back of the tablet... NB: I can't confirm the accuracy of that CAD I share for discussion purposes only because of that weird and yet unexplained detail... ? pic.twitter.com/9R7jeLDfLV— Steve H. (@OnLeaks) July 30, 2018
Following that render, a case appeared that has a cut out where the smart connector would be located. The case with the mysterious cutout appeared on Slashleaks.
New Apple Pencil
Apparently (as per the 8 October, 9to5 Mac report mentioned above) the new iPad Pro will launch alongside a new Apple Pencil that will be paired with iPad Pro by proximity - the same way that the AirPods or HomePod pair with the iPhone.
It's not clear if the current generation of Apple Pencil will work with the new iPad.
A filing with the China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in October is also thought to indicate a new Apple Pencil will launch.
Here are a few snippets that could point to the future of the device.
In Feb 2018 Apple was granted a patent, spotted by Patently Apple, for "Dual display equipment with enhanced visibility and suppressed reflections". That's quite a mouthful, but if you check out the details it reads a lot like a second display for an iPad or Mac - one that would be used for a software keyboard.
There are two applications, one with the second display connected to the body permanently and movable via a hinge, and the other allowing it to be removed and reattached as required.
It seems likely that this second screen would be used as a touchpad-style keyboard. There are also suggestions that it could be used with the MacBook in the future.
As ever we must caution readers that patent activity sometimes results in product development many years down the line, and sometimes results in nothing at all. It's unlikely that we'll see anything from this in 2018, although it's an interesting train of thought for Apple to be riding.