iPad Pro September Release Date Suspected: A9 Chipset, 4GB of RAM AND USB Port In Tow

News Richard Goodwin 12:06, 1 May 2015

As rumours about a larger iPad escalate, we take a look at what’s being said

A larger iPad from Apple? Sound crazy no? We're finding it difficult to come to terms with, after all, Apple has a history as a company reluctant to expand device sizes; it'd far rather make them more compact, and it took forever for the iPhone to expand to 4in and 4.7in with successive generations. What's more, the iPad has gradually, deliberately, shrunk - the 9.7in iPad Air kept the same display size as its forebears but shaved off so much bodywork it largely rendered the iPad Mini irrelevant.

But this is just what some notable sources are claiming Apple is about to do; a bigger tablet aimed squarely at professional users. Reports of an even larger iPad are not new, with the first whispering emerging in 2012. But the idea of a larger iPad came back into fashion in late-2013 after a few choice leaks from respected insiders and is now the subject of hot debate all over the web.

Another interesting component to the growing iPad Pro mythology is talk of an Apple-developed stylus that will work in conjunction with the larger iPad and, no doubt, some of its bespoke applications. The stylus, however, will apparently be marketed as an “accessory” as not all iPad users will wants one. 

A report by respected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggests Apple will launch a stylus alongside a larger iPad in the second quarter of 2015, based on a number of stylus themed patents Apple has filed and his own research.

"Coupled with its unfavourable cost structure, high selling prices may turn consumers off if the 12.9-inch iPad is always bundled with [the stylus]," he wrote. "We therefore expect the stylus to be an optional accessory before sufficient user feedback is received."

Apple is far from confirming plans to release a 12.9-inch iPad model – often referred to as the iPad Pro or iPad Air Plus in reports – but LG is apparently already increasing oxide display production to meet anticipated demand, reports BGR.

“Investment to produce 30,000 sheets next year’s second quarter have started. Apple is creating iPads with 12.9-inch display, which shows they are increasing the panel size,” an unidentified “well-informed” LG Display related official told South Korean news site ETNews.

Samsung is currently the only “real” player to have experimented with styli aboard its Galaxy Note range. Could Apple have spotted a use for stylus too? Perhaps a more enterprise-focussed use –– something that will feature inside its co-IBM developed business applications? Maybe. But we’re not exactly sold on the idea. A slick keyboard attachment would be A LOT more useful. 

Stylus aside, a larger iPad still begs the question why? How will an extra couple of inches make a new product stand out from, say, a standard iPad Air 2? 

Below is everything currently known about the iPad Pro; the case for and against it; and some useful intelligence from the analyst community. We'll be updating this piece from time to time, so be sure to bookmark it and check back for new information. 

iPad Pro: Release Date

Multiple sources claim Apple will bring the iPad Pro to market in 2015 in order to inject some new blood into its now-sagging iPad line. Bloomberg sources now claim initial component work on is officially underway, with full-on production scheduled for Q1 2015. 

“The new iPad will have a screen measuring 12.9 inches diagonally,” the report said. “Potential customers for larger-screen iPads are businesses, where the device could take on more tasks of a traditional laptop computer.” 

Reports from Reuters claim the iPad Pro is coming in 2015 but, thanks to supply issues, will not be with us until at least September. Initial production will, however, begin this quarter, although Apple is apparently not looking to ramp things up until later on in the year. The report’s sources suggest the iPad Pro, as previously thought, will be aimed predominantly at professional and enterprise users. 

“Apple is now considering adding USB ports and adopting a faster technology that promises to transfer data up to 10 times faster than current USB ports,” said the report, citing people familiar with the matter. “The company has also been considering adding ports to connect to a keyboard and mouse.”

iPad Pro Specs

The most up to date rumours claim Apple’s iPad Pro will feature the company’s forthcoming A9 chipset, potentially 4GB of RAM and an expansive 12.2in 2K display, making it the most powerful tablet Apple has ever produced. It’s not clear who Apple will be targeting the iPad Pro at but recent talk of a stylus taken in conjunction with its larger display could mean Apple wants to tap into the same market as those it is currently pitching its iMac with retina at –– photographers and video editors. 

The larger display combined with a decent stylus and some bespoke video and photo-editing software could make the iPad Pro a very compelling proposition to media creators that like to work on the fly. Couple this with all the iOS / OS X cross-over and it doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to see quite a bit of potential contained in a larger tablet with specific software and a stylus. 

Reports also claim the Apple iPad Pro will be available in 16GB, 32GB, 64GB and 128GB models, despite Apple having dropped the 32GB iPhone, reports The Register, and it apparently will feature slight design modifications, including a repositioned camera and redesigned buttons.

In addition to this another leaked image of a prototype device, said to be the iPad Pro, has surfaced on Chinese site Sina Weibo and is interesting because it shows off an additional USB-C or Lightning port connector on the left side of the device. Multiple reports –– including the Wall Street Journal –– has claimed the iPad Pro will feature USB support, a first for Apple’s iPad tablet line. Check out said images below: 

The device in the image is either a fake or a very early prototype; either way, you’ll want to take the images with a pinch of salt. The inclusion of USB, however, is far more plausible. The WSJ has a pretty solid track record when it comes to reporting on upcoming Apple releases, and if the iPad Pro is going to be targeted at professional types, then the addition of USB makes quite a bit of sense. 

The source behind the leak says the iPad Pro will feature a 12.9-inch display with 2K resolution, and a 7mm thin profile. It’ll weigh 700g, apparently, and also feature a 11,000mAh battery –– that’s a lot bigger than the iPad Air 2’s 7340mAh setup. But seeing it’s listed as having a 2K display, chances are it will need it. We all know how QHD displays affect battery life after 2014’s Galaxy Note 4 and Nexus 6. 

iPad Pro With Stylus?

According to reports in January 2015 Apple might once again be about to perform a u-turn on its past utterances. Steve Jobs famously said the company would never make a stylus-based device and that if it did the company had "blew it". But according to a report by AppleInsider, prominent (and often unnervingly accurate) KGI Securities analyst Ming-chi Kuo has seen enough evidence now that he believes an iPad Pro with a stylus will appear in 2015's second quarter.

However, the report states that the stylus will likely be an optional yet still official accessory for the iPad Pro, rather than being an integral feature as with competing devices, such as Samsung's Galaxy Note hardware.

Kuo believes the first stylus Apple releases will be fairly simple, but expects Apple to update the hardware with later iterations featuring extra sensors and "3D handwriting" capabilities.

And why might Apple be making this change? "We believe that the stylus could improve the experience of users," Kuo suggests, "and will likely help Apple develop specific customer groups such as the corporate sector and educational institutions."

iPad Pro Leaks

As of May 1, prominent Twitter leak source @OnLeaks has dished out another dose of iPad Pro goodness, this time in the form of a render that is alleged to show how the bodyshell will actually look when it enters production.

Estimated measurements clock in at 223mm x 306mm x 7.2mm - so it'll be pretty big but super-thin. We can also obseve a nod to the "Pro" office use scenario with a USB Type C port.

Yet another image of what’s claimed to be a CAD image of the iPad Pro leaked online over the weekend. The image, obtained by Nowhereelse, comes via an alleged Foxconn employee and shows what’s claimed to be the corner of Apple’s upcoming, larger iPad Pro.

“The image appears to show the upper right corner of the alleged device,” reports Apple Insider, “with a new speaker grille located to the side of the lock button and above the rear camera. If legitimate, it could mean that the jumbo-sized iPad would allow users to hear stereo sound from the device regardless of whether it is used in portrait or landscape orientation.”

A set of iPad Pro cases have been leaked by French blog Nowhereelse and this time the cases have been stacked next to iPad Air 2 cases in order to give us an impression of just how big the iPad Pro will be once it launches later on this year. 


“The French publication revealed on Twitter back in March that the iPad Pro would measure 305.7 x 222.6 x 7.2 millimeters,” reports BGR. “The new measurements performed by German site arktis, which apparently got a hold of these iPad Pro cases, show nearly the same height (307mm) and width (222mm) for the tablet, although the thickness has not been measured. Obviously, the size of the iPad Pro can’t be confirmed until Apple officially announces the device.”

Openings for stereo speakers on the bottom and top of the case, as well as an additional opening on the left side for an additional Lightning or USB-C port indicate this could be the real deal. The cases are also remarkably similar to the ones Sonny Dickson leaked last week. 

And then there's this spurious beauty from China's Weibo network...

"A user on China's Weibo microblogging site today posted a new photo (via Letem svetem Applem) simply labeled 'iPad Pro', reports Mac Rumors. "The photo shows what appears to be a mold for the rear shell of Apple's rumored larger tablet with a display in the range of 12-13 inches, although it is unclear whether this mold is supposed to be for."

iPad Pro: Design

What would it look like? Is it going to be just a bigger iPad Air? What type of features could Apple include to differentiate it from its existing iPad range? These are all good questions, and as is usually the case with things like this, SETT has set about designing and publishing a concept of what the iPad Pro – based on current rumours – could be like. 

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