Apple launched three new iPads in 2017, in 9.7in, 10.5in and 12.9in sizes, and has launched one new iPad so far in 2018. (We discuss their respective merits in our iPad buying guide.) The next generation of iPad Pro is next on the list, and an entirely new, iPhone X-inspired, design is heavily hinted at by changes to the iPad interface coming in iOS 12.
In this article we gather the rumours about new iPad Pros in 2018, covering their specs, features, pricing and release date.
If you're interested in smaller and cheaper tablets, take a look at our iPad mini rumour roundup, and for buying tips check out our guide to the best cheap iPad deals. (Credit for the main illustration goes to Martin Hajek, who has several more attractive images in our concept illustrations section.)
Although Rosenblatt Securities analyst Jun Zhang told investors in March that he thought Apple would unveil a new full-screen iPad Pro with Face ID in June 2018, the WWDC keynote was a software-only affair. Although the iOS 12 update announced at WWDC did hint at an upcoming change to the iPad interface that would make it match the iPhone X: swipe upwards from the bottom of the screen to bring up the Home screen, and swipe down from the top right to see Control Centre. This strongly hints that Apple is about to remove the Home button from at least some iPads.
At the end of June 2016 TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo published a note (via MacRumours) stating that he still expects to see an iPad Pro with Face ID arrive "in the second half of 2018".
We may not have a long wait. Regulatory filings appeared in early July 2018 hinting that five new MacBook models and five new iPad models are in the works.
The iPads listed are: A1876, A2013, A1934, A1979, A2014. All are running iOS 11 - suggesting that they will be released before iOS 12 launches in September.
We certainly hope to see the new iPad Pros this summer - we think that Apple would be wise to get them out in time for the Back to School buying season.
Otherwise, we won't see a new iPad Pro until September, alongside the new iPhone for 2018.
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.
Apple bumped up the prices in the UK as the pound weakened following the Brexit referendum result, and we fear that prices may rise again - if the pound continues to struggle, or if Apple decides to bring in an iPhone X-esque edge-to-edge screen, or both.
With the release of the iPhone X at the end of 2017, it is looking likely that the iPad Pro design will take inspiration from that phone - so you can expect to see the famous notch, and no more Home button. But what else is likely to change in terms of design? We investigate below.
Apple is expected to bring across some of the design changes from the iPhone X to the iPad lineup in 2018. This is strongly supported by the iPad interface changes in iOS 12, which mirror that of the iPhone X.
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.
The sources didn't expect this screen to be OLED, however. 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.
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.
New iPad gestures in the iOS 12 beta also suggest that the new iPad will lack a Home Button and feature a notch.
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, alternatively, it may keep it the same size while shrinking the chassis.
Indeed, a Chinese report claims 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.
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.
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 also chucked in a smart new Apple Pencil that looks great in black and silver.
Tech specs and new features
Let's look next at the internal changes in the new iPads.
iPad Pro models generally include a modified version of the processor in the preceding iPhone - last time around the iPhone 7 came out with an A10 Fusion chip, and the iPads got an A10X Fusion.
The iPhone 8 and iPhone X both come with the A11 Bionic processor, so we'd expect the iPad Pro models released in 2018 to feature a slightly souped-up A11X Bionic - although the A11 is terrifically fast already.