With declining sales from year to year, a fresh rethinking of the iPad can be the shot in the arm it desperately needs.
Although 2017's price cut to the entry-level iPad definitely helped Apple's case, a new design and updated features are essential to make the iPad a must-have gadget again.
If the iPhone X's success is any indication, Apple will be taking their design cues from their latest flagship phone to shape the iPad line's future.
Will Apple follow the iPhone X design trend and go with significantly thinner bezels on the next iPad Pro? The edge-to-edge design is touted as the future of iOS gadgets so it won't be a surprise if it makes it to iPad line.
According to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, "This new design should improve the user experience and help gain traction in the corporate/commercial sectors."
Would a bezel-less iPad be better? Not necessarily. Unlike smartphones, bezels have more practical use in tablets because they can act as grip areas, making them easier to hold. The best compromise then would be slimmer bezels and not a completely edge-to-edge screen.
Another report from Bloomberg said that consumers shouldn't expect an OLED screen on the next 10.5-inch iPad Pro due to technical and financial limitations. This means it will retain an LCD screen but will also keep its 120Hz frame rate advantage. (There are no 120Hz OLED panels yet.)
Following the iPhone X's footsteps
Another iPhone X design that will likely make it to the next iPad Pro is the absence of the physical Home button. This is in line with what Bloomberg predicted earlier this month.
Without the Home button nor Touch ID, Apple will likely introduce Face ID to the next iPad Pro. But will Face ID work seamlessly with an iPad? Tablets are used regularly in both portrait and landscape modes so an iPhone X style portrait-mode only Face ID will be clunky.
Will the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X's A11 Bionic chip make it to the next iPad Pro? Why, yes, of course. We may even get the A11X Bionic chip on the iPad Pro, rumored to have an upgraded image processor and GPU for even better graphics performance compared to this year's iPhones.
We all know that Apple is pushing for a wireless future, at least for the iPhones, but will the company finally bring wireless charging to the next iPad Pro?
Chances are, it won't. Well, not yet anyway. The problem with wireless charging right now is the speed. Coupled with the iPad's larger battery, it will take forever to juice it up wirelessly. Apple also had to switch to glass backs on the wireless charging iPhones and that may not be feasible on iPads.
Until Apple solves these technical hurdles, we may not see wireless charging on iPads in the near future.
How about the headphone jack?
There's still no conclusive evidence that Apple is ditching the 3.5mm headphone jack on the new iPads but we certainly hope not.
Why? Because unlike iPhones, which are mainly consumption devices, iPads, especially iPad Pros, are also viable production workstations. Call it outdated or archaic, but the 3.5mm headphone jack is still universally used for lag-free, reliable audio inputs and recordings.
With that said, based on its "wireless future," we still won't be surprised if Apple introduces an iPad without a headphone jack next year.
Credible reports coming out from DigiTimes state that Apple is planning on releasing a cheaper 9.7-inch iPad next year. This entry-level iPad will reportedly start at the sweet price point of $259, even cheaper than this year's $329 base iPad.
This is certainly great news for people who are still holding out for an iPad due to its price. With the onslaught of cheaper tablets like Amazon's Fire line, a lower iPad price point will certainly help Apple compete in the lower-end market.
Their release dates for these rumored new iPads have not been revealed yet but we're expecting them to be announced around the second quarter of 2018 at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). Stay tuned!
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