We examine rumours about the launch of an iPad Pro, and bring you our analysis of the iPad Pro release date, specs and features. Here's what you need to know about Apple's putative iPad Pro.
Second-guessing Apple is a fool's game. But Apple has perfected the art of seeding sufficient information to get people talking in keen anticipation of a new product. And the iPad Pro appears to be the next big name of the production line. A bigger iPad that is intended to be more of a productivity machine than a consumption device, and an answer to the challenge of Windows devices that offer productivity and portability.
The iPad Pro could well be a game changer, linking up the MacBook and iPad lines.
In this article I'm going to wade through the morass of rumour and misinformation on the internet to bring you my analysis of what is the iPad Pro, when we can expect to see it and what it will likely cost. I will update this article as we get hard information, but for now it is based on rumours from the usual credible sources.
iPad Pro: what it is
In essense, a larger more powerful iPad than the iPads mini and -Air, aimed at productivity and creativity rather than just consumption. We can be fairly certain that a larger iPad is in the works, and the use of the 'Air' moniker on the current top-of-the-line product offers the tantalising suggestion that a 'Pro' is on the way. (See our Apple iPad Air review and iPad mini 2 with Retina display review for more.)
Of course, we'd hope that there is something more the iPad Pro than just a bigger iPad. On which...
iPad Pro: specs and features
The iPad pro will showcase the best tech Apple can offer. Expect 128GB storage, quad-core processor and at least 2GB RAM.
The key thing we expect is a larger, high-res display. We think the iPad Pro display will be around 12in - bringing it into line with the MacBook Air.
This extra screen real-estate will require some expansion from the iPad Air's svelte and light form factor. But Apple will always go for slim: expect an iPad Pro to be 7-9mm at its thinnest, and around 550g in weight. Certainly no more than 700g.
Will the iPad Pro run iOS 8? That depends on the launch date, which we cover below. But if the iPad Pro launches in autumn 2014 it may be a flagship for the new OS, if it launches any earlier expect iOS 7. And don't discount the possibility of an interim version of iOS 7 with new productivity apps.
Indeed, the ability to run full-featured versions of Final Cut Pro, Logic Pro, and Photoshop will be critical to making a bigger iPad Pro a true productivity and creativity device. Expect other pro features such as a TouchID fingerprint security device.
Other possible features we've read about include a stylus. We find it unlikely Apple would release a device that requires a stylus to work properly. More likely is an iPad keyboard case - Apple isn't going to make a hybrid laptop/tablet device, because Apple doesn't make compromise devices. But a well-designed keyboard case is just good sense for a Pro iPad.
Finally for now we've read some reports of additional connectivity ports, including a full USB connector. If that turns out to be true I'll eat my hat*. Wireless connectivity is the future, and Apple hates to compromise on its control of your user experience. It's not likely to invite you to add your own peripharels.
(*Did I mention that I wear a licorice hat?)
iPad Pro: UK release date
There are two distinct rumours here. The strong money is on an announcement and launch in the spring of 2014. This is outside of the normal iPad upgrade schedule, but that makes sense. Apple wants a distinct iPad mini, iPad Air, iPad Pro lineup, and the rumours of the iPad Pro are sufficiently strong to suggest a launch sooner rather than later.
But there is another possibility, namely that Apple launches an iPad Pro alongside update -Air and -mini products in the usual Autumn slot.
iPad Pro: UK price
Anyone who tells you they know the iPad Pro price is, basically, guessing. So we'll have a go too, on the basis that we really don't know!
It makes sense for the iPad Pro to be more expensive than the iPad Air, and cheaper than the MacBook Air. The iPad Air ranges from £399 inc VAT to £739 inc VAT, the MacBook Air from £849 inc VAT to £1,129 inc VAT. So expect the cheapest iPad Pro to be somewhere around the £650 mark, and the most expensive to hit the £950 zone. (For more, see What's the best tablet PC?)