Back in August 2014, rumors of a huge, 12.9-inch iPad Pro popped up on the Internet. Initially, reports pegged the larger iPad at nearly 13-inches and claimed it would arrive in 2015. Since then, there has been plenty of talk about the possibility of a larger iPad, so we’ve put together all the latest news and rumors in one post.
Updated on 06-11-2015 by Malarie Gokey: Added details from iOS 9 features that hint at the reality of the iPad Pro and its stylus.
iOS 9 is filled with hints: Split-screen view, predictive touch, and more
When Apple unveiled iOS 9 at its developer conference in June, the presentation was full of hints that the iPad Pro may become a reality soon. The long-rumored split-screen feature and many other tidbits point to new ways in which iOS 9 could take advantage of a larger iPad screen.
Split-screen view: Last year, there was a lot of talk that Apple might finally offer a split-screen, app multitasking feature in iOS 8 for the iPad. One developer even found evidence in the code that such a thing was possible. At WWDC, Apple confirmed a 9to5Mac report that the split-screen feature, which would allow iPad owners to use two apps at the same time on the screen, will be available with iOS 9. The feature allows users to see the apps in 1/2, 1/3, and 2/3 views, depending on the apps in use. We’ve tested it out in the beta version of iOS 9, and it works seamlessly, though it needs third-party app support before it becomes truly useful.
Predictive touch: Apple mentioned a feature called predictive touch, which uses curves, velocity, and acceleration to predict where any given touch is headed on the screen. It’s a feature that’s key to ensuring that styli are quick and responsive on the iPad’s screen. Many believe this could be a hint that Apple has made a stylus for the rumored iPad Pro.
Keyboard shortcuts: Another veiled hint at a possible tablet accessory came in the form of support for keyboard shortcuts in iOS 9. Additionally, Apple showed off a new way to enable a trackpad on the touchscreen keyboard.
Notes app gets drawing: Apple’s new Notes app for iOS now supports drawing for the first time. It’s a feature that could make even more sense on an iPad than a phone — especially a big iPad.
None of these features are conclusive proof that the iPad Pro exists, but all together, they sure seem to hint that a larger iPad is coming with a stylus and maybe even a keyboard.
Brighter, more touch-sensitive screen powered by huge battery
The iPad Plus is expected to have a huge 12.9-inch screen with a high resolution. A May 2015 report from Korea’s ET News hints that the screen will also use a special silver nanowire touch panel, which is supposedly significantly more touch-sensitive than other touch panels. The technology also allows for thinner displays, which are cheaper to produce, the report says. The glass that will cover the display tech is said to be sapphire, but long-time Apple followers will have heard this before in relation to the iPhone 6, only to ultimately be disappointed.
The iPad Plus’ larger screen, according to GizmoChina will supposedly sport a 2K resolution, but as the iPad Air 2’s 2,048 x 1.536 pixel resolution can be referred to as 2K, this may not be any different to existing Retina iPad screens. A 11,000mAh battery may supply the power for the massive screen, way up from the 7,240mAh cell inside the iPad Air 2.
Previously, noted KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has also made accurate predictions about Apple products in the past, has turned his attention to the rumored monster iPad Pro. According to his supply chain sources, Kuo says Apple is planning to add a special oxide screen panel to the larger iPad to achieve “high resolution, quick response, and high color saturation.” Kuo also said the new screen and other factors pose a difficult challenge for Apple’s suppliers. His comments were first picked up by MacRumors.
NFC, Force Touch, and a stylus — Oh my!
Although rumors of a giant, 12.9-inch iPad Pro have been circulating for quite some time, we’ve barely heard about any specifications for the device until recently. An anonymous source familiar with Apple’s plans told AppleInsider that the iPad Pro will have NFC, Force Touch, a stylus, the A8X processor, and perhaps even a USB-C port.
Although it’s unlikely that a nearly 13-inch iPad would ever be used in a tap-to-pay transaction at checkout, Apple may still include NFC on the device so that users can make in-app purchases with Apple Pay and use the tablet to receive payments. The source claims that the Force Touch technology that’s found on the Apple Watch will make its way onto the iPad Pro as well, but it’s unknown how the new form of input will be used.
Earlier reports hinted at the possibility of a Bluetooth stylus coming with the giant iPad, and this source says that the stylus will be pressure sensitive and make use of the screen’s decreased touch latency. The stylus may connect via Bluetooth or possibly NFC.
Finally, the source revealed that Apple may include a USB-C port on the larger iPad, but would not specify whether the port will replace the lightning charger or be an extra port on the tablet itself. If Apple includes both the USB-C and the lightning port, the iPad Pro will be the first iPad to include more than one port.
The most recent rumblings suggest the iPad Pro is essentially a scaled-up iPad Air 2 with an additional speaker grill. Sources tell 9to5Mac’s Mark Gruman that two models, one with cellular radios (codenamed J99) and one without (J98), are currently undergoing internal testing.
At first, reports hinted that the iPad Pro would be absolutely massive, measuring 12.9 inches diagonally. Since then, a few other possibilities have come up. An early February report from GizmoChina posits the larger iPad will sport a 12.9-inch screen, and be called the iPad Plus, as opposed to iPad Pro or iPad Air Plus. The same article suggests that the iPad Plus will measure 7-millimeters thick, which is in tune with earlier reports.
Earlier on, Japanese site Macotakara claimed the iPad Pro will sport a slightly more manageable 12.2-inch screen. The report did not mention the projected resolution. The publication also hinted the king-size iPad will be somewhat thicker than the svelte iPad Air 2, which measures 6.1-millimeters thick. The iPad Pro is expected to come in somewhere between 6.9 and 7.1 millimeters, so it will be about as thick as the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.
The same publication later picked up a report from Japanese magazine Mac Fan, which published a schematic of what it calls the iPad Air Plus. The illustration shows a 12.2-inch screen, four speakers, and hints that the new A9 processor may power the monster iPad. Seeing as Macotakara accurately predicted other specs for Apple products, Macotakara could be right on the money about the iPad Pro. Of course, there is some debate as to whether the iPad Pro is an official product or just an experiment Apple will discard in favor of other, more popular products like the iPhone.
Renders and leaked cases show possible design
In mid-April 2015, Apple enthusiast and leaker Sonny Dickson posted images of what he says are cases designed for the iPad Pro. The designs give little away about the tablet itself, other than it may feature stereo speakers placed at either end of the body, and dual ports – one on the base, and one on the side. A similar layout was seen on early original iPad prototypes.
The cases include a folio-style model with a folding cover that can act as a stand, along with traditional cases for the rear panel that are possibly made from silicone and hard plastic. These show cutouts for the camera, headphone socket, the sleep/wake key, and the new speaker setup. Additionally, there’s a hole for the charger which appears to be larger than expected.
It’s difficult to say these cases are evidence of the iPad Pro’s existence, or its impending release, as case manufacturers will often make up prototypes for unreleased, or even rumored, products.
Using possible dimensions for Apple’s big tablet which were leaked recently, well-known 3D modeler and designer Martin Hajek made a few renders of what the iPad Pro and its accompanying stylus might look like. They show what Hajek calls the “return of the bezel,” while the stylus mockup is a sleek, Adonit-like writing implement. Of course, these images are just renders, so the iPad Pro and its rumored stylus may not look like this at all, though the size comparison could be accurate.
Earlier, YouTube user Canoopsy produced a mockup of the iPad Pro, and used it to compare the size with other examples of Apple’s hardware. Obviously it’s larger than existing iPhones and iPads, but the surprising part comes when it’s put against a 13-inch MacBook, because it turns out to be almost identical in size. Check out the video below to see if you’d want such an enormous tablet.
<h3 “launch”>Launch delayed by until late 2015 or 2016
Early reports hinted the large tablet with high-end specs would launch in 2015, but now it seems production has been delayed until the second quarter of 2015 — or even 2016, pushing the massive iPad Pro’s launch back further than expected. A May report from ET News states that the iPad Pro won’t arrive until 2016, when the silver nanowire technology is ready.
The news of its delay first came from analyst Kuo, who often has his finger on the pulse of Apple’s supply chains. Kuo said that new components and supply constraints have pushed production behind schedule. He did not say when the larger iPad will launch. Japanese publication Mac Fan pinned the 12-inch iPad Pro’s launch for sometime between April and June of 2015. A spring or summer iPad release would be unorthodox for Apple, and we’ve heard no word of it arriving this summer.
Back in October, supply chain officials said production of the massive iPad will be delayed due to huge demand for the iPhone 6. The unnamed supply chain sources told the Wall Street Journal the large iPad was supposed to go into full-scale production in December. However, unprecedented demand for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus forced Apple to delay production of the iPad Pro. The new iPhone 6 models sold a record 10 million units over the first weekend and demand in China, as well as India is expected to be incredibly high.
“The top priority for the supply chain is to meet the overwhelming demand for the larger screen iPhones. The output of the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus remains unsatisfactory,” a supply chain source said. “It would be challenging for display makers to split resources and spend a few months to ramp up production for a new larger screen iPad now.”
The iPhone is Apple’s most popular product, so the company’s focus in centered on producing as many of its new flagship phones as possible. “Everyone is busy with the new iPhones, Foxconn’s bread and butter. Chairman [Terry Gou] has also gone to the Zhengzhou site to monitor the production closely,” a Foxconn official said.
It’s unclear when the large iPad will enter production, but the Journal did say that Apple will start mass production for a retina display MacBook Air in December, with a 2015 launch date goal.
Updated on 05-26-2015 by Kyle Wiggers and Malarie Gokey: Added details regarding the iPad Pro’s design and a new split-screen app feature.
Updated on 05-11-2015 by Malarie Gokey: Added in news that the iPad Pro may have a silver nanowire touch panel, sapphire glass, and arrive in 2016.
Updated on 05-04-2015 by Malarie Gokey: Added in news that the iPad Pro may have NFC, Force Touch, the A8X processor, and a stylus.
Updated on 04-16-2015 by Andy Boxall: Added in a selection of pictures said to be of iPad Pro cases.
Updated on 02-02-2015 by Malarie Gokey: Added in news of iPad Plus name, thickness, battery, and screen size.
Updated on 01-26-2015 by Malarie Gokey: Added in renders of what the iPad Pro and stylus could look like.
Updated on 12-02-2014 by Andy Boxall: Added a video showing a mocked up iPad Pro against Apple’s other hardware.
Updated on 12-01-2014 by Malarie Gokey: Added information from leaked schematic and April-June 2015 launch date rumors.
Updated on 11-13-2014 by Malarie Gokey: Added new report from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo about screen specs and release date.
Updated on 11-03-2014 by Malarie Gokey: Added new reports of a 12.2-inch screen size and the tablet’s thickness.