When Apple announces its new iPad on March 21, the result won’t be the long anticipated iPad Air 3. Instead, if all of those widely spread rumors are correct, which they frequently are, what will actually appear is a smaller version of the iPad Pro.
That’s because when you look at Apple’s past product introductions, it’s not that hard to figure out what to expect in the new iPad Pro.
In fact, the biggest secret involving the new tablet is the name, not the stuff inside. Apple doesn’t usually move its technology backwards, and it’s safe to assume that the company won’t start now. Instead, what we’re probably going to see is a new tablet that replaces the iPad Air, but which moves beyond it.
It’s also safe to assume that Apple isn’t going to abandon the 9.7-inch form factor. The larger iPad Pro introduced last fall brings some real power to the Apple tablet, but it’s large enough that portability took a big hit. For many, the 12.9-inch screen made the tablet too big for easy insertion into a briefcase, and the larger screen limited usefulness for some people.
It now looks like Apple will bring the technology of the iPad Pro to a smaller tablet and make that new tablet part of the iPad Pro line. This means that you can expect to see a very high-resolution, stylus-sensitive screen with support for the Apple Pencil. There will also be a smart connector on one long edge of the new iPad and an accompanying keyboard and cover.
Rumors about other technology improvements cover just about every conceivable option, but one source, 9to5Mac, is usually pretty accurate. The folks there are saying that the new iPad will use the 12-megapixel camera from the iPhone 6S, and that it will use the A9X processor from the current iPad Pro, which makes sense. The larger iPad Pro that came out last fall was equipped with an 8-megapixel camera similar to the one on the iPhone 6.
Beyond that, other rumors claim the new iPad will have a version of the iPad Pro speaker system, which was a vast improvement over the speakers on previous iPads. There are also rumors that the new iPad will be able to handle 4K video, as is the case with the iPhone 6S. Others are predicting that there will be a flash on the back of the soon-to-be announced iPad Pro.
What we don’t know is whether the new iPad will have a name that will differentiate the 9.7-inch version from its larger sibling. We should all hope it won’t be the iPad Pro Mini.
Smaller iPad Pro Coming for Those Who Found the Big Screen Too Clumsy
Apple will announce a new iPhone at the March 21 event. The new device will have most of the technology of the iPhone 6S, but the screen will be the size of the iPhone 5. The smaller 4-inch screen is intended to meet the needs of people who prefer the 4-inch screen of the older iPhone design, but with the technology in new devices.
Many rumors claimed the Apple would name the new phone as the iPhone 5SE, but apparently the 5 designation has been dropped. This has the advantage of removing the new iPhone from the annual update cycle that Apple generally follows every September.
Perhaps you’ve noticed a trend here. If not, let me point it out. We’re seeing a smaller iPad Pro and a smaller iPhone. Both have the latest technology, but they’re in smaller packages. This isn’t an indication that Apple is turning its back on the larger phone and tablet models, but rather a move of inclusion, so that customers who prefer a smaller size can have what they want without compromise.
My experiences with Apple products and screen size bear this out. Some people have smaller hands than others. For them, the larger screens of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are cumbersome. But with phones everywhere showing ever growing screen sizes, these customers are starting to see limited choices. With the SE model, Apple is giving those customers a way to stay with Apple.
The smaller iPad is also a concession to user preferences, but not in quite the same way. The 12.9-inch Pro is intended, at least partly, to be a laptop replacement. It also competes with Microsoft’s Surface, which has a screen nearly the same size. But not everyone needs a laptop replacement. They just need a conveniently sized tablet, something that can fit into a briefcase or backpack without trouble.
My experience traveling with the iPad Pro demonstrated why a smaller size has advantages. While the larger Pro has an amazing screen and a vastly improved sound system that allowed me to enjoy some audio without a headset, there were times when the massive screen was just too much. I type my interview notes using Evernote and the on-screen keyboard, but the larger size was somewhat of a stretch.
Despite the fact that I have very large hands, the 9.7-inch screen of my past iPads was actually a lot more useful. Sadly, my iPad Air has moved into the family food chain from which there is no retreat. So when the new iPad Pro (or Air 3) comes out, chances are I’ll trade in the huge screen for one a little less huge. I love the iPad Pro, but I’d love it more if it were a little smaller.