The Apple iPad — the product that officially made tablets cool and the very product that survived the great decline in its market niche over the past few years. It’s often praised as the only thing worth buying if you are looking for a tablet and for good reason. The iPads have proven that they have staying power thanks to their hardware prowess and long, long software support times.Apple has also worked hard to diversify its tablet line so that every user can find the right fit for them — in terms of size and price point. We have the iPad Mini, the budget-oriented iPad 9.7 inch, the iPad Air, which was revived earlier this year, and the “laptop replacement” class iPad Pro line.
The latter may be due for a refresh this year, come September. And while the rumor mill has been all hush hush about it, here’s what we’d expect to see in an updated iPad Pro lineup in 2019.
Design and build
Apple is known to stick to its designs for a few years before even thinking about a facelift. Considering that the Pro line got its new looks just last year, we don’t expect any change to its looks to come in 2019. So, the same square-shaped slates, one with an 11-inch display and one with a 12.9-inch.
However, we might get an upgrade that makes them sturdier. The iPad Pro 11-inch and iPad Pro 12.9-inch that came out last year are extremely thin. That makes them beautiful to behold and a pleasure to hold, but they are also prone to bending. Like, really really easily.
In the past, Apple had a similar problem with the iPhone 6 Plus. This was fixed a year later, as the iPhone 6s line was made with sturdier materials. So, if we see new iPad Pro models come out this year, we would expect that Apple adds a stealthy upgrade to their structure, which makes them much harder to bend.
Hardware and 5G
The top-tier iPads have always launched with an upgraded version of this year’s iPhone processor. So, in 2018, we had Apple A12 Bionic chips in the iPhone XS line, which was very, very powerful. The iPad Pros of 2018 had the even more robust A12X Bionic — a chip that started stepping on the toes of laptops and put the iPad product in the “laptop replacement” category. Well, at least theoretically — the iPad was still being held back by iOS. But more on that later.
If new iPad Pros are to come this year, we would expect them to have an A13X Bionic under the hood. According to reports, however, this generation of Apple processors is nothing to write home about. Allegedly, the real game changer is to come in 2020.
5G is also a hot topic lately as every company is trying to put out a product that supports the ultra-fast connection. However, Apple is known for taking its time with new stuff while it’s still in its wobbly stages and not proved as usable. It is expected that the first iPhones to support 5G will come out in 2020, while the first iPad Pro 5G to have the next-gen modems will take their time all the way to 2021.
In other words, if there are iPad Pro 2019 models to come, they will not be much more powerful than their predecessors and probably not worth upgrading to if you already have a 2018 unit.
Software — in comes iPadOS
As we already mentioned, the iPad Pros of 2018 were extremely powerful but we barely got to use that power since iOS is kind of restrictive in its ways. That’s why, in 2019, Apple is branching the iPad operating system into a new thing — it will now be called iPadOS. The new software comes with enhanced multitasking, a lot more gestures, and general quality of life improvements.
From what we have seen from the first Public Beta, iPadOS has the potential for some crazy productivity straight on the tablet. All the multitasking features have a learning curve of their own and the new homescreen grid allows us to (finally) fit a lot more apps into one screen.
There will also be mouse support, which is activated through the Accessibility menu, and a new Files app, which allows you to go much deeper and more into detail with your files — it kind of looks like the Finder on a Mac.
This will go hand in hand with the iPad Pro’s USB Type-C port, allowing you to use tons of accessories with it. Even external hard drives or a USB flash drive!
To drive the whole “desktop replacement” thing home, Apple has made a slight adjustment to Safari. In iPadOS, when you open a website on your iPad, Safari sends a message to the site, telling it to show you its desktop version. So, no more awkward mobile sites stretched across (or squished in the middle of) your 12.9-inch tablet. Just straight up desktop sites!
And, adding the cherry on top, iPadOS will have a Second Screen feature working in unison with MacOS Catalina. As it says on the tin, it’ll turn your iPad into a second display area, either to extend your current viewability or to use as a working space.
Price and release date
Apple usually doesn’t like to stuff a single event with a lot of new devices, which is why it will normally announce the new iPhones and new iPads on different dates. Last year, we got the iPhone XS announcements in a September event, as always, and the new iPad Pros were presented on a different day, a month later. That said, if we are correct, this year’s iPads will be a simple refresh and nothing groundbreaking, so Cupertino might find it appropriate to just mention them at the September iPhone event and be done with it.
If that doesn’t happen, then there might be a month’s pause between the iPhone and iPad 2019 events. So, for an announcement, we expect to see the iPad Pro 2019 unveiled anywhere from early September to late October. Then, release would be about a week to two weeks after the event.
As for price, again, we believe (and hope) there wouldn’t be much of a change there. So, a $799 starting price for the iPad Pro 11-inch and $999 for the iPad Pro 12.9-inch. If you want to add 4G LTE modems to them, that’d be $949 for the 11-inch and $1149 for the 12.9-inch as starting points.