For a fair amount of time now, the omnipresent Apple rumours have led us to expect a hardware event at some point in Spring and as the season draws ever closer we’ve been given more of a hint as to both the timing and the content of that event. The latest news comes from the Japanese site Mac Otakara which states that this hardware event will take place as early as March and will include a starring role from the iPad.
According to the site, Apple is set to refresh the overall look of their tablet lineup, with new tablets at the current sizes of 7.9, 9.7 and 12.9 inch alongside a release of a 10.5 inch iPad pro that will combine that screen size of the 9.7 with the resolution of the 12.9 inch. This new ‘mini’ iPad pro with its 7.9 inch screen will come with features including a Smart Connector, True Tone display, four speakers and a 12MP rear camera with LED flash. These are all seen on the larger versions. Additionally, both the 10.5 and 12.9 inch tablets are said to run on an A1OX chip while the smaller models will run on A9X.
Despite their previous rumours of a 10.9 inch iPad, Mac Otakara now claim that the 10.5 inch will see the same design as the 9.7 inch meaning it will feature an edge to edge display that will make it slimmer. This earlier report also hinted at the 12.9 inch model will have a 12-megapixel rear camera and True Tone display that will use advanced four-channel ambient light sensors to automatically adapt to the colour and light intensity of the current environment.
If we jump back a few months, you might remember the predictions from Barclays and KGI Securities. Barclays suggested that Apple would release a trio of new iPad Pro models in March with sizes including 9.7 inch, 12.9 inch and the edge to edge display 10.9 inch but there was no mention of a 7.9 inch model and instead Barclays’ research suggested that Apple would continue to release the iPad Mini 4 which first came on the market in September 2015. Similarly, analysts at KGI Securities mentioned the 9.7, 10.5 and 12.9 inch iPad Pros but again, there was no mention of a 7.9.
iPad sales haven’t been great recently, with falling figures since early 2014 despite steady updates in regards to both hardware and software and understandably, the lack of upgrades in September of last year meant that revenue gained from iPad sales dropped by around 20%. Reports of a “revolutionary iPad model” coming sometime in 2018 are said to feature radical design changes that may include a flexible AMOLED screen allowing for more flexibility with the tablet. As it stands, the only Apple product that has this type of technology is the Apple Watch and adapting it to a much larger screen may pose a huge challenge for those working on the iPad’s development.
Further news claims that this event will also see the release of a 128GB iPhone SE as well as a red colour option for the iPhone 7 and 7 plus which could tie in with Product Red. This again came from a Mac Otakara post back in December that detailed the likelihood of a release of glass-backed iPhone 7 and 7 pluses with curved, bezel-free, OLED screens and wireless charging by the end of 2017. This source was also the first to mention Apple’s plans to remove the headphone jack and add a jet black colour option for the iPhone 7 lineup but it’s track record is not 100% perfect. The rumour that suggests a release of a ‘jet white’ option for the iPhone 7, for example, is yet to gain any credibility.
So, although Mac Otakara tends to be one of the most reliable sources when it comes to Apple predictions, there is of course no guarantee that these rumours will lead anywhere. All we can do is wait until March to find out for certain.