Update: The iPad Pro 2 release date is sounding familiar, as the iOS 10.3 schedule is lining up for an March or April launch, and we all know Apple likes to debut new software with new hardware. Here's the latest.
Apple launched its largest ever tablet in September 2015. The came with a huge 12.9-inch screen, supported the Apple Pencil stylus and packed a powerful processor - it was a big change to the iPad game.
We were big fans, giving it 4.5-stars in our full TechRadar review, praising the slate for its impressive front-facing speakers and great display among other things.
But with 2016 rapidly coming to a close we need a new large-screen iPad, and the good news is it's possible we'll get one soon: the rumored device is likely to replace both Pro models and may come in a third size too. Here's everything we know so far about the iPad Pro 2.
Cut to the case
- What is it? The next tablet from Apple
- When is it out? March 2017 at the earliest
- What will it cost? It'll be expensive. Expect $799 (£679, AU$1249)
iPad Pro 2 release date
The original iPad Pro is over a year old, but considering the iPad Pro 9.7 came out earlier in 2016 and demand for new tablets isn't high at the moment, it's no surprise we're going to be waiting longer for an iPad Pro 2.
Based on previous releases an early 2017 launch around March is possible, but there's evidence that the slate may have been delayed, as TSMC - which is making the chips for it - has apparently seen lower than expected yields.
TechRadar's take: March 2017 is the earliest we'll see it, but don't be surprised if the iPad Pro 2 slips into the summer.
iPad Pro 2 price
There's no news on pricing yet, so we only have the original iPad Pro's pricing to go from. That starts at $599 (£499, AU$899) for the 9.7-inch model and $799 (£679, AU$1249) for the 12.9-inch one, so with pricing likely to be similar for the Pro 2 it certainly won't be easy on the wallet.
iPad Pro 2 design
- A slimmer, lighter slate
- Water resistance
- No headphone port
Not much is known about the iPad Pro 2 just yet – but leaked photos of a new Apple tablet have shown off what some believe to be the iPad Pro 2.
They came from a source working on the Chinese supply line – according to Apple Insider – and show off the tablet's screen with a model number of MH1Z2CD/F.
That number's not attached to any existing product, so it'd make sense for this to be the iPad Pro 2. The photos don't show off any specific changes though, so it may look just like the original iPad Pro tablet.
That wouldn't be a surprise, especially as Apple only just reinvented the iPad to some extent with the launch of the Pro range.
That said, there's a fair chance the company will try to make the new slates slimmer and lighter, as this is something Apple often does with new models and it could really benefit the larger model, as the iPad Pro 12.9 weighs a hefty 713g.
On the other hand, they could get thicker, albeit with a smaller overall footprint, as one leak claims a new 10.9-inch model will have the same length and width as the iPad Pro 9.7 but will be 7.5mm thick (where Apple's current flagship is just 6.1mm).
The same source says the iPad Pro 2 12.9 will get 3mm thicker, making it 9.9mm thick.
Apple removed the 3.5mm headphone jack from the iPhone 7, so this may be a change Apple brings over to the iPad range.
Apple may also make the iPad Pro 2 water and dust resistant, like the iPhone 7. While a tablet - which is typically used indoors - is arguably less in need of that protection it would still help defend it against spilled drinks.
TechRadar's take: We're not expecting big changes to the design of the iPad Pro 2, but it may well get slimmer and lighter, as well as borrowing some design cues from the iPhone 7.
iPad Pro 2 screen
- Three sizes
- A True Tone display
- A fingerprint scanner built into the screen
According to a research note from a respected analyst, the iPad Pro 2 will come in three different sizes. There'll be 12.9-inch and 9.7-inch models, just like with the original range, but there'll also apparently be a 10.5-inch version.
More recently, a supply chain source has claimed that there'll be a 10.9-inch model (presumably instead of the rumored 10.5-inch one).
They add that the home button will be removed and the fingerprint scanner will be built into the screen, which would also mean a smaller bezel, apparently allowing Apple to fit the display into the same footprint as the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. If real, this is a feature that's likely to extend to the other size models too.
These leaks don't mention the resolution or any other details, but we can predict that all models of the iPad Pro 2 will come with a True Tone display, which debuted on the iPad Pro 9.7. True Tone allows your tablet to alter the screen's color temperature depending on the ambient lighting of where you use it, so you can see the image properly no matter what conditions you're in.
Apple rarely changes the resolution of its device's screens; in fact, it hasn't upped the 9.7-inch iPad's resolution since the iPad 3 in 2012. You could argue that it's due a jump by this point, but the 1536 x 2048 display doesn't feel lacking, so we expect the iPad Pro 2 9.7 will keep that resolution.
Similarly, the iPad Pro 2 12.9 will probably stay at 2048 x 2732 and the iPad Pro 2 10.5 or 10.9 - if it exists, which feels unlikely given it would be far too close to the 9.7-inch model in screen size - will presumably slot somewhere in the middle.
We'd expect to see some improvements to the display, but like the addition of True Tone on the iPad Pro 9.7 these are likely to be software tweaks or technology improvements, rather than an increased resolution.
One such improvement could be 3D Touch, which debuted on the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus. This essentially makes the screen pressure-sensitive, so a hard press on something will yield different results to a light one.
Bigger changes could come with the iPad Pro 3, likely in 2018, with talk of a curved AMOLED display.
TechRadar's take: The iPad Pro 2 12.9 is bound to have a True Tone display since the iPad Pro 9.7 does, and Apple is likely to improve and refine the screen too, but probably won't change the resolution, and a fingerprint scanner built into the screen sounds like a long shot.
iPad Pro 2 camera and battery
- A bigger battery
The iPad Pro 9.7 has a 12MP rear camera and a 5MP front-facing one, so we'd expect at least that from the iPad Pro 2.
Chances are Apple won't change the megapixel count, as both cameras on the iPad Pro 9.7 are already an upgrade on the iPad Pro 12.9's snappers.
There's no news on what the battery size will be, and in any case it's likely to vary depending on which screen size you opt for.
TechRadar's take: The camera is often an afterthought on the iPad range - and rightly so. As such we don't expect big changes here, especially as Apple improved the camera for the iPad Pro 9.7, but a larger battery is likely.
iPad Pro 2 OS and power
- A powerful A10X processor
- iOS 10
- 4GB of RAM
We'd fully expect the iPad Pro 2 will launch with iOS 10 - Apple's latest mobile operating system software upgrade. iOS 10 includes big improvements to Siri, the ability to live broadcast apps, a new look (and a lot less clutter) in the Control Center and more besides.
It wouldn't be a new iPad without a new processor and Apple is rumored to be sticking an A10X chip in the iPad Pro 2. A Geekbench leak suggests it'll be far more powerful than the original iPad Pro
It suggests it'll have a single-core score of 4236 and a multi-core score of 6588. By comparison the original iPad Pro had a multi-core score of 5472.
We could also see more RAM in the iPad Pro 2, or at least the 9.7-inch model. The iPad Pro 12.9 already has 4GB of RAM, but the iPad Pro 9.7 has just 2GB, so it would make sense for Apple to push the new model up in line with the 12.9-inch slate (and if we get a 10.5-inch model to equip that with 4GB of RAM too).
TechRadar's take: It's unlikely Apple will jump from two to six cores for the A10X chip, but it's bound to be very powerful all the same, and a sharp step forward in graphics processing especially. 4GB of RAM across the board would make sense and iOS 10 is all but guaranteed.
iPad Pro 2 other features
- A pressure-sensitive home button
The Smart Connector is bound to make a return, giving users an easy way to connect keyboards and other accessories to the slate. The iPad Pro 2 will obviously support the Apple Pencil and there's every chance Apple will release new versions of the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard alongside it.
Beyond that we can look to the iPhone 7 for other possible features, such as a pressure-sensitive home button, which could vibrate rather than physically clicking and do different things depending on how hard you press it.
TechRadar's take: There's no way Apple will ditch the Smart Connector, as it's one of the iPad Pro's defining features. We're not convinced we'll get a pressure-sensitive home button though.
iPad Pro 2 rivals
The iPad Pro 2, particularly in its larger sizes, is likely to be positioned as a laptop alternative, which means it will be competing with the Microsoft Surface Pro range, which is currently up to the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and by spring 2017 should include the Microsoft Surface Pro 5.
These slates are powerful, expensive and support similar accessories, like a stylus and a keyboard. But they run Windows 10, which means an inferior app selection but a more laptop-like experience.
- Check out our full Microsoft Surface Pro 4 review and all the information on the Microsoft Surface Pro 5
The original iPad Pro 12.9 and iPad Pro 9.7 will likely be rivals too, as they will probably stay on sale for a reduced price - and given the larger model especially still feels like it's got power oozing out the edges, it will remain an attractive option, especially if it becomes more affordable.
There's less direct competition from any Android slates, but despite getting on a bit the Google Pixel C could prove a tempting alternative, with its premium build, great screen and keyboard accessory - and we're expecting Google to come out with a decent upgrade soon too.
- Check out our full Google Pixel C review