Apple unveiled new iPad Pros at its special press event in October 2018, but we're already looking ahead to the next generation.
What can we expect from the iPad Pro models released in 2019? In this article we speculate about their release date, specs and new features, and discuss what they're likely to cost.
If you're interested in speculation about smaller (and very much cheaper) tablets, have a look at our iPad mini 5 rumours roundup. For buying advice related to the current range, read our iPad buying guide and roundup of the best iPad deals.
We expect the next iPad Pro to arrive some time between spring and early summer in 2020.
Apple has released at least one iPad Pro model per year since 2015. Here are the launch dates:
- iPad Pro 12.9in (1st gen): Nov 2015
- iPad Pro 9.7in: Mar 2016
- iPad Pro 12.9in (2nd gen): Jun 2017
- iPad Pro 10.5in: Jun 2017
- iPad Pro 12.9in (3rd gen): Nov 2018
- iPad Pro 11in: Nov 2018
Apple fans tend not to update their iPads as often as their iPhones, and that's particularly so with the expensive and extremely future-proofed iPad Pro. At the same time, the company needs its premium pro devices to justify the price by having state-of-the-art components, so won't want to leave too long a gap.
For these reasons a wait of 12-18 months is likely. The earliest we expect to see new iPad Pro models is autumn 2019, but our money would be on a launch the following spring or (perhaps more likely still) at WWDC in June 2020.
(This assumes a major update. If we're just talking about a minor spec bump Apple could release a new Pro earlier than this, although that could still annoy a few people who bought the Nov 2018 models!)
New iPad Pro prices
What will the next iPad Pros cost? There have been a few major price bumps in recent years but there were justifications for those: either currency fluctuations related to Brexit, or the wholesale redesign of the 2018 Pro models. This time we're hopeful that prices will stay closer to the previous generation.
Here's the full price list for the 2018 models.
|iPad Pro 11 (Wi-Fi)||iPad Pro 11 (4G)||iPad Pro 12.9 (Wi-Fi)||iPad Pro 12.9 (4G)|
Expect similar pricing for the next batch, although (as we will discuss later) the 64GB storage tier may disappear. If so, we would hope and expect the new entry level - presumably 128GB - to roughly match the old 64GB tier.
iPad design changes
After extensively redesigning its Pro lineup for 2018, we're not expecting anything like as radical for 2019. Apple tends to be conservative, design-wise, and after shrinking the bezels and removing the Home buttons it's likely to keep things broadly the same for at least a couple of generations now.
It's possible Apple could try to make the Pro even slimmer by moving some of the screen tech from behind the display and into the bezels at the edge, but we find this unlikely because a) it would likely mean bigger bezels and b) the Pro is already astonishingly - and almost worryingly - slim as things stand.
Conversely, we can't see Apple shrinking the bezels any further than it already has (in an attempt to more closely ape the almost all-screen look you get on the iPhone X and XS) because iPad users tend to be more attached than iPhone users to a physical 'grip'. Apple can add palm-rejection tech as much it likes; people will still dislike leaving sweaty hand and finger-marks on their screens.
Specs & features
It goes without saying that the next generation of iPad Pros will be formidably specced, but this far ahead of launch it's near impossible to predict what exactly that will entail.
For a starting point, let's look again at the specs of the larger 2018 iPad Pro:
- A12X Bionic processor, Neural Engine, M12 coprocessor
- 64GB/256GB/512GB/1TB of storage
- 12.9in (2732x2048 at 264ppi) LED 'Liquid Retina' screen, True Tone, ProMotion
- 12Mp rear-facing camera, f/1,8, flash, 4K video, slow-mo at 240fps
- 7Mp front-facing camera, 1080p video, 'Retina Flash' feature, Portrait Mode, Animoji
- Four-speaker audio
- Face ID facial recognition
- 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0
- USB-C connector, no headphone port
- 280.6mm x 214.9mm x 5.9mm; 631g/633g (Wi-Fi/cellular)
Expect an A13X processor with a moderate speed boost from today's chips. The above model got a double bump from the A10X because two generations of iPhone had appeared since the last update but that shouldn't apply here; we don't expect the A14 chips until the autumn of 2020.
The storage allocations look generous now but by the time product launches Apple may decide to drop the 64GB option. (If it does so, expect the entry level to be a reintroduced 128GB, with a gap before 512GB and the terabyte.)
The cameras haven't received much love in recent iterations, although they are always likely to be a lower priority here than on the iPhones. We'd expect Apple bring back the OIS feature mysteriously lost from the rear-facing camera in 2018 and we may get a megapixel bump at last.
What will Apple do with the screens? For the past three generations the larger model has stayed the same size (12.9in) while the lower tier has crept steadily upwards (9.7in, 10.5in, 11in). Does this mean an 11.8in iPad Pro is on its way?
We don't think so. For obvious reasons, this isn't a game Apple can carry on indefinitely; the point of difference between its two Pro lines is getting smaller and smaller, and eventually there will no point paying extra for the larger model.
Add to that our belief that Apple will not offer any substantive design changes this time around and we think a repeat of the 12.9in/11in pairing is most likely.
What about OLED? It's hard to know how much display tech will move on in the next 18 months, so we may have to eat our words, but right now that (apparently no-brainer) upgrade looks impractical. OLED panels are still very expensive, and a 12.9in one would be bankruptcy-inducing.
On top of this, it is currently difficult to offer 120Hz on an OLED screen. This is why the 120Hz Razer Phone 2 has an LCD.