Update: The official iPad Pro 2018 launch date is going to be October 30, according to the new Apple 'Special Event' invite that went out today. Here are the rumors below.
The iPad Pro 3 is Apple's next big upgrade, and we're leaning toward a late 2018 release date after it didn't show up at the iPhone XS launch event.
The new iPad Pro is supposed to give us bezel-reduced screens in two sizes, and leaks suggest it will have iPhone X TrueDepth camera technology for Face ID.
Sure, we saw the entry-level new iPad 2018 launch earlier this year with education-focused ideas, but if you're looking for a more powerful refresh of the existing iPad Pro 10.5 and iPad Pro 12.9 (2017), that's said to be coming soon.
Apple is bent on making its iPad Pro series a 'laptop replacement' for as many users as possible, almost treating its Pro tablets as if they're touchscreen MacBooks. With iOS 11 and its tablet-focused software, Apple got closer to fulfilling that vision.
Whether Apple calls it the iPad Pro 2018 or the iPad Pro 3, it will almost certainly remain expensive, and it still might not be a laptop replacement for absolutely everyone, no matter how much Apple tries to convince you otherwise and no matter how much it charges.
Will the new iPad Pro be a game changer? It appears to be in for interesting changes. Here are the details we've gathered and our best educated guesses at the price, release date and certain specs and features based on Apple’s history.
Cut to the chase
- What is iPad Pro 3? The next flagship iPad Pro
- When is iPad Pro launch? Tuesday, October 30 at 10:00am EDT
- What will iPad Pro 3 cost? Likely at least £619/$649/AU$979
Newest iPad Pro 3 leak
A new render shows the iPad Pro 2018 in a case, with details matching what we've seen before.
iPad Pro 3 release date and price
The iPad Pro 3 release date is still subject to much speculation, with the tablets rarely appearing at the same time of year each time we see a new one.
There's additional evidence that it could be coming soon however, as an Apple tablet has seemingly passed through the EEC (Eurasian Economic Commission), which is something we'd expect to happen not too long before launch.
Whenever the iPad Pro 3 tablets do come out, they'll surely 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 design
- Tiny bezels
- No home button or headphone port
- Apple's slimmest slate
One of the most recent iPad Pro 2018 leaks comes from a source who's been right about Apple stuff before and claims that the upcoming slate will be just 5.9mm thick and won't have a headphone port.
We've also now seen renders supposedly showing the design of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro 3, and you can see them below.
Details include slim bezels and no home button or fingerprint scanner, so Face ID is sure to be included. But the bezels are still big enough that there's no need for a notch.
It looks to still have a metal back, four speaker grilles and a single-lens rear camera, but some other things have changed - the Smart Connector has moved to the bottom of the back (when held in portrait), there's seemingly no 3.5mm headphone port (as rumored above), and there's an unidentified button on the right edge.
The source adds that apparently the iPad Pro 12.9 (2018) comes in at 280.6 x 215 x 5.85mm (or 7.77mm including the rear camera bump), making it smaller than the iPad Pro 12.9 (2017). That thickness is also roughly in line with the rumor above, so this could be one slim slate.
Another leaked render has also emerged, this time showing the iPad Pro 12.9 (2018) in a UAG case, as you can see below.
The details - including slim bezels and Face ID sensors - match up with the renders above. However, the fact that it's in a case suggests the slate could be coming soon, as a case-maker probably wouldn't make a case or a render until close to launch.
iPad Pro 3 display
- 12.9 and 10.5-inch models
- 10.5-inch version could be replaced with 11-inch model
While the iPhone range is now firmly in notch territory, the iPad Pro 2018 might not have one, based on the renders above and another leak, which adds that the screen will be edge-to-edge.
Then again, it's still possible that Apple may give the iPad Pro 3 a notch, especially as iOS 12 moves the status bar clock to the left edge, leaving empty space in the middle where a notch would go.
If Apple goes with an all-screen display design, it could allow the new iPads to either increase in screen size or stay the same size and shrink the body. That'd be a big deal for the sometimes cumbersome 12.9-inch iPad Pro, and based on the information we've heard so far shrinking the body of the 12.9-inch model is what Apple has chosen to do.
For the smaller 10.5-inch iPad though it could mean a slight increase in size as we've seen a report claiming it will have an 11-inch display.
However, as Apple has just introduced a new size with the 10.5-inch model we’re not convinced that the size would be changing already. We also fully expect the iPad Pro 3 to have a True Tone display with a 120Hz refresh rate, just like its predecessor.
iPad Pro 3 camera and battery
- A TrueDepth front-facing camera
- Better bokeh effects
We wouldn’t expect much change to the camera. 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.
That said, if it has Face ID as rumored then it will presumably have a TrueDepth front-facing camera, more like the iPhone XS. That’s still 7MP but with extra depth-sensing skills, making it good for Portrait Mode.
There’s no news yet on the iPad Pro 3’s battery, but we’ll be sure to update this section as soon as we hear anything.
iPad Pro 3 OS and power
- An A12 Bionic chipset
- iOS 12
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. Though given that the iPhone XS range has now launched with an A12 Bionic chipset this seems unlikely.
What's more likely is that the iPad Pro 2018 will use either an A12 Bionic or something newer and better than that which hasn't been announced yet - perhaps an A12X Bionic or A13.
Of course, the iPad Pro 3 is also sure to run iOS 12, which is already available. This brings iPhone-like gesture controls to the iPad, as well as adding Siri Shortcuts, grouped notifications, augmented reality improvements and more.
iPad Pro 3 other features
- Face ID
- Four speakers
You won't hear Apple officially call its upcoming slate the 'modern iPad,' but that name has been found in iOS 11.3 code.
'Modern iPad' doesn't sound very meaningful, but the phrase 'modern iPhone' was used ahead of the iPhone X's release. The suggestion is that the term could refer to all those fancy new features, like Face ID and an almost bezel-free screen.
Indeed, the idea that the new iPad Pro for 2018 could allow you to unlock your tablet with your face rather than your finger is a rumor we've heard more than once.
In fact, a Face ID setup screen has even been found in the iOS 12 beta for iPad. The same beta also contains multiple user support for Face ID - a feature which would be more useful on a tablet than a phone.
We've also heard that Face ID on the iPad will use the same image signal processor as the iPhone XS, and that it will work in both portrait and landscape orientations.
The same source claims that the iPad Pro 3 will be able to output 4K HDR videos to an external display using a USB-C port, which has also been rumored for inclusion.
Plus, it could apparently have a new version of the Magnetic Connector for connecting accessories, such as a new version of Apple’s Smart Keyboard.
And a new version of the Apple Pencil will apparently land with the iPad Pro 3, one which can be paired with the tablet by proximity.
Other existing features, such as the quad-speakers and the Smart Connector (all of which are pictured in leaked images) 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 12, 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 2018, 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 and iPhone XS, 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.