Apple is going to shake up the iPad lineup in a big way in 2017, according to securities analyst KGI Ming-Chi Kuo. Next year, Apple will reportedly release three new iPads, a 12.9 inch iPad Pro 2, a low cost 9.7 inch iPad and — most interestingly — a new iPad Pro with a 10.5 inch display, a new screen size for Apple’s tablet range. With a diagonal increase of just 0.8 inches over the 9.7 inch iPad, its unclear at this stage what will justify the introduction of another SKU.
Perhaps, the device will stay the same physical shape but feature an edge-to-edge screen, enabling Apple to increase the screen size slightly. An edge-to-edge iPad display would mirror the rumored revolutionary glass redesign currently expected for iPhone 8, which would also debut next year. Further into the future, Kuo also reports that the iPad will follow the iPhone in adopting OLED technology screens starting in 2018 …
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Kuo’s reporting implies that Apple is not readying major product updates for iPad Pro for the coming quarters of 2016 as Kuo says a 12.9 inch iPad Pro 2 is destined for 2017. The 9.7 inch iPad Pro is still pretty new, being released in March, and is thus also unlikely to have a refresh this year.
This leaves space for improvements to the 9.7 inch iPad Air and iPad mini range but there has been no reports of anything new for those product lines so far. In fact, some have reported beliefs that the iPad mini is actually going to be discontinued entirely.
According to Kuo, the 12.9 inch iPad Pro 2 and new 10.5 inch iPad will run on Apple A10X SKUs; the sibling A10 chip is expected to debut with the iPhone 7 this September. Apple’s ‘X’ SoCs are more powerful as battery and heat constraints are lesser in tablets than phones. The ‘low cost’ 9.7 inch iPad will apparently continue to use the A9X chip from the current iPad Pro lineup — Kuo does not detail how much cheaper this new iPad will be. The current lowest-price 9.7 inch iPad on sale is the $399 iPad Air 2.
Looking ahead of 2017, Kuo believes Apple will make a new iPad with a flexible OLED screen sometime in 2018. The device is described as a revolutionary upgrade for the iPad line with radical changes to design and user interface. It’s worth noting that the Apple Watch screen is also described as flexible OLED, to get an idea of what to expect. A flexible OLED screen does not necessarily mean the iPad itself will bend or flex.
In summary, major changes for next-generation iPads are in the works but are not ready for 2016. iPad fans will have to wait a bit longer to see the brand new 10.5 inch iPad, 12.9 inch iPad Pro and cheaper 9.7 inch variants. Apple is also prepping major changes when OLED screens hit the iOS lineup.