There's an Apple event taking place on Monday (Mar. 21), and it seems like a prime opportunity for the company to update its iPad Pro tablet.
According to reports from 9to5Mac, Apple will reveal a new, 9.7-inch iPad Pro that costs $599 and features the A9X processor first introduced in the original 12.9-inch iPad Pro. This base model is expected to only have 32GB of storage and Wi-Fi connectivity, so you'll have to buy a higher-priced, 128GB model in order to connect to LTE cellular networks.
The new iPad Pro may also have a 4K display, a better camera and a second pair of speakers. Image: 10 FACE / Shutterstock
Early speculation came from a supposedly leaked drawing published by the French website Nowhereelse.fr, which claimed its source for the drawing did not have a perfect track record, but had been accurate on two out of three occasions. If the drawing is to be believed, the smaller iPad Pro's four speakers will be placed just like the larger model's four speakers, with a pair on the top edge and a pair on the bottom edge.
While tablets have never had great cameras, 9to5Mac reports that Apple will target photographers by giving this 9.7-inch iPad a 12-megapixel camera that can shoot 4K video, an upgrade from the 8-MP cameras found in the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. The leaked drawing from Nowhereelse suggests that the new tablet will also include an LED flash.
According to 9to5Mac, Apple is also testing 9.7-inch iPad displays that support its Pencil stylus. The mini iPad Pro would be targeted at creatives who find the a 12.9-inch display too large, and are already comfortable with the iPad Air's 9.7-inch display. Further, introducing a second product that works with the stylus may increase sales of the $99 accessory.
The 9.7-inch iPad Pro may also be seeing strong spec bumps, as Digitimes is reporting that the tablet will have a 4K display, up to 4GB of RAM and improved battery life.
Apple may also roll out a new, smaller version of its Smart Keyboard for the smaller iPad Pro, if a photo of an easel-style case for the unreleased tablet is to be believed. The bottom side of the case has a hole cut out in the same location where the iPad Pro's Smart Connector port — which the Smart Keyboard connects to — is located.
The case the photo also has an extended camera hole, which supports the rumors of an LED flash, as well as two pairs of oblong openings, which makes sense, given the rumors of four speakers. The photo was discovered by the Japanese Apple news blog Macoatakara, who found the case for sale on 1688.com, an Chinese online retailer owned by Alibaba.
According to another leaked schematic for the smaller iPad Pro, which shows all of the previously mentioned design changes, Apple's next ultra-thin tablet will have very similar, but slightly larger measurements than the iPad Air 2. The drawing, which Engadget claims is from a "reliable source," shows the mini iPad Pro to be 6.15 millimeters thick, just slightly thicker than the Air 2 (6.1mm). That change could be connected to the rumored Pencil-compatible display, and the leak also purports that the new tablet will be 0.1 inches wider, which may be tied to the addition of the Smart Connector port.
Stay tuned to LaptopMag for reports from Monday's event, where we'll be bringing you all the details and our hands-on impressions.