Update: There's growing evidence that the iPad Pro 3 could have Face ID and a design inspired by the iPhone X.
Apple recently updated its iPad Pro range with the iPad Pro 10.5 and the iPad Pro 12.9 (2017). They’re the iPad Pro 2 in all but name and each is a decent update, adding a new size into the mix and improving almost everything that was already present, such as the screen and performance.
But they’re also seriously expensive devices, and still don’t quite cut it as laptop replacements, no matter how much Apple tries to convince you otherwise. So for the iPad Pro 3 we want some big changes, and we’ve got a wish list of them below.
But first we’ve collected all the intel we can find on Apple’s next slate – there’s not much to go on yet, but we’ve taken some educated guesses at the price, release date and certain specs and features based on Apple’s past form.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The next flagship iPad
- When is it out? Probably mid-2018
- What will it cost? Likely at least £619/$649/AU$979
iPad Pro 3 release date and price
Recently Apple hasn’t stuck to a yearly upgrade cycle with its iPads. The original iPad Pro launched in November 2015, quickly followed by the iPad Pro 9.7 in March 2016 and then the iPad Pro 10.5 and iPad Pro 12.9 (2017) in June 2017. And that’s ignoring the non-Pro new iPad, which launched in March 2017.
But there is still something of a pattern. The first iPad Pro generation began its rollout in March 2016, and the iPad Pro 2 models landed in June 2017, so that’s only just over a year apart.
It’s likely then that Apple will launch the iPad Pro 3 sometime in the middle of 2018, maybe even June 2018, though a couple of months either side of that is very possible too.
In fact, an early rumor points to a release at either the end of the Q1 2018 (presumably meaning sometime in March), or early Q2 (likely April). So you might not be waiting long.
Whenever it does launch, the slate is sure to have a high price. The iPad Pro 10.5 starts at £619/$649/AU$979, so with Apple seemingly being done with 9.7-inch Pro models that’s probably the minimum you’ll pay.
iPad Pro 3 news and rumors
iPad Pro 3 rumors are thin on the ground so far, but we have come across a few things.
For one, mention of a "modern iPad" has been found in iOS 11.3 code. That might not sound very meaningful, but the phrase "modern iPhone" was used ahead of the iPhone X's release, suggesting that the term could refer to all those fancy new features, like Face ID and an almost bezel-free screen.
So you could be unlocking the iPad Pro 3 with your face, rather than your finger, and that's a rumor we've heard more than once.
Elsewhere in rumor land, sources in the supply chain are claiming that the iPad Pro 3 will use a new octa-core A11X Bionic chipset. That's an upgrade on the hexa-core A11 Bionic chipset in the iPhone X.
Apparently it will also be smaller, coming in at just 7nm, which could mean it's more efficient, and it will supposedly include a neural processing unit, which further points to the possible inclusion of Face ID, as that's largely powered by AI.
Beyond that, we can guess at a few things. For example, as Apple has just introduced a new size with the 10.5-inch model we probably won’t see any new sizes next year.
That means the iPad Pro 3 will likely come in 10.5 inches and probably also 12.9 inches, but since the 9.7-inch Pro hasn’t been refreshed it looks like that size could be relegated to cheaper, non-Pro models.
We wouldn’t expect much change to the camera either. Apple has stuck the same 12MP and 7MP rear and front snappers as the iPhone 8 has on its latest slates, which is serious overkill for a tablet, so should serve the Pro range well for at least another year.
Other existing features, such as the True Tone display with 120Hz refresh rate, quad-speakers and Smart Connector are also likely to return.
What we want to see
Great as the current iPad Pro models are they’re also very expensive, and still lack some key features or trail behind rivals in certain ways. With that in mind here’s a list of the things we most want to see from the iPad Pro 3.
1. Water resistance
Apple has added water resistance to its phones, but so far not its tablets, and while it’s less needed on a tablet since it’s too big to drop in a glass and unlikely to be used in the rain, it could still come in handy.
Drinks still spill and people use tablets when cooking or by the pool, so knowing that the iPad Pro 3 could survive a dunk would be reassuring, especially given how much these things cost.
2. Even better productivity skills
Apple is really pushing the productivity potential of the iPad Pro, yet in most cases it still can’t quite match up to a laptop.
iOS isn’t versatile enough even with iOS 11, and accessories such as the Smart Keyboard tend to be overpriced for what’s ultimately a mediocre experience.
Better, lower priced accessories would help, along with further changes to iOS, bringing it more in line with a desktop operating system. More full, desktop quality software, such as Photoshop, would help too. To some extent that’s out of Apple’s hands, but it could make deals with developers, or just make the platform more appealing to them.
3. A lower price
The iPad Pro is an expensive bit of kit, there’s no getting around that, whichever size or model you pick. Given the amount of tech packed in it’s not necessarily bad value, but it can be hard to justify the outlay, especially when there are cheaper tablets and it’s not a full laptop replacement.
So we’d like to see a price cut for the iPad Pro 2, or at the very least (and far more likely) the price remaining the same, while the tech and storage capacity improves.
4. A sharp OLED screen
The iPad Pro 2 in both its 10.5 and 12.9-inch sizes has a screen with a pixel density of 265 pixels per inch, which is fairly sharp, and the overall screen quality is high.
But there are sharper screens on tablets, laptops and phones, so we’d like to see Apple raise the resolution, especially as an iPad should be a prime candidate for 4K content.
And as well as a new resolution, we’d like to see a new display technology, namely OLED. Apple has now used this for the iPhone X, so it’s entirely possible that the iPad Pro 3 could benefit as well.
5. Face ID
Apple debuted Face ID on the iPhone X, letting you simply look at the phone to unlock it. That means no more home button, which in turn allows for a bigger screen in the same size shell. These are all good things, and things we’d like from the iPad Pro 3.
6. Better battery life
The iPad Pro 2 doesn’t have bad battery life, far from it if you’re using it mostly as a media device, but if you plan to use the thing as a full laptop replacement you’ll probably only get 6-7 hours out of it.
That’s still not bad, but an extra couple of hours would really help, so whether through a bigger battery or more efficient components and software, we’d like to see Apple eke extra life out of the iPad Pro 3.
7. A new look
The iPad Pro has a slim, light and stylish design, but it’s more or less the same one Apple’s been using for years, so we’d like a complete overhaul for the iPad Pro 3. Something new and exciting that could tempt those with older models to upgrade.
That could take the form of a glass back, a curvy screen, zero bezels, or something else altogether. But if there’s one thing Apple’s almost always great at it’s design, so we’re sure it’s up to the task.