The iPad Pro 3 is the next Apple tablet to deserve an update, and we're now hearing the first rumors of its new features, many that incorporate iPhone X technology.
Sure, we just saw the entry-level new iPad 2018 launch 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 a bit later in 2018.
Apple is bent on making the 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.
The iPad Pro 3, for this reason, 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 is charges.
Will the new iPad Pro for 2018 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? Probably either June 4 or early September
- What will iPad Pro 3 cost? Likely at least £619/$649/AU$979
iPad Pro 3 release date and price
The iPad Pro 3 release date may be announced at one of two Apple launch events this year, and we have a specific date for the first one: Apple WWDC 2018.
We're gearing up to see some overdue hardware announcement at the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, Calif. and new iPad Pro models could be a big highlight. After all, we did get last year's 10.5- and 12.9-inch iPads at WWDC 2017.
Here's the problem with that theory: Apple hasn't followed a strict annual launch for its Pro-level iPad tablets, waiting a little more than a year to actually roll them out to users. The next unveiling could easily be three months after that.
The iPhone XI launch event, anticipated for early September, is a better choice. It'll make current iPad Pro buyers feel less cheated, and iOS 12 will be ready on day one. When the last iPad Pro tablets launched, iOS 11 included big tablet features, but everyone not on the beta was three months to experience them.
There's no need for Apple to rush its new iPad out before iOS 12 launches in full.
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 news and rumors
You won't hear Apple official call it 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.
The new iPad for 2018 could allow you to unlock your tablet with your face, rather than your finger, and that's a rumor we've heard more than once.
If Apple goes with an all-screen display design, it could allow the new iPads to either increase the 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.
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 this year.
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.