Apple’s next iPad Pro could be six months away – why should we care now?

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If you predict that Apple will deliver updated components and a new iPad Pro this fall (likely October), you win the prize for stating the obvious.

There are dozens of stories now repeating what noted Apple prognosticator Mark Gurman has dug up on the next Apple iPad Pro. At TechRadar, we’re chasing these rumors, too. I just don’t know if we’re all more devoted to the pursuit than a resolution, which – even with all these tidbits leading this way and that – may be a foregone conclusion. 

With every new leak, we collectively pounce. It’s a trained response, because Gurman is well-sourced and usually gets it right. He’s also treading on very safe ground.

Let’s start with Apple silicon. Gurman is predicting that the M2 chip, successor to the M1, will arrive with the new iPad Pro in the autumn. Okay, yes, that makes sense. We’ve been talking about the M2 for almost as long as we’ve had the M1 (now available in M1, M1 Pro, M1 Max, and M1 Ultra varietals).

If Apple never wanted to change or upgrade Apple silicon, it would have called the first Chip ‘M.’ The minute you add a number to anything, the count starts. ‘M2’ is inevitable.

All these rumors start to blend after a while. News that the M2 won’t be a major performance boost over the M1 (still eight cores but using a more efficient 4-nanometer process) is not a revelation.

On the iPad Pro side, there are two on-the-nose predictions. The first is Apple shoving that M2 inside the new iPad Pro – a perfectly reasonable assumption, since the iPad Pro was the first Apple tablet to get the M1 chip.

It certainly won’t be sporting the A15 Bionic or, by then, the rumored iPhone 14’s A16 Bionic. Yes, I know, Apple’s A-series and M-series are all now considered part of Apple silicon. However, the M1 line and upcoming M2 are positioned as the more powerful SoCs, and seem better suited to a Pro line of tablets.

Gurman’s other prediction is even more of a slam-dunk if you understand Apple’s product unveiling cadence.

The last time Apple redesigned the iPad Pro line was in October 2018, when it unveiled the more industrial-looking third generation at a buzzy event in Brooklyn, NY. That look is now on every iPad except the basic, sixth-generation Apple iPad 9.7 (it’s an old-school hold-out like the iPhone SE). The first iPad Pro line arrived in November 2015.

There have been outliers, like a second-gen update in June 2017, but for the most part, iPad Pro time is in the fall. Gurman’s October prediction is a safe one.

One from column A and one from…

Lately, Apple product prediction feels like ordering from a Chinese menu: choose one cool feature from column A and another from column B.

Whenever we talk about rumored gadgets, people throw in MagSafe charging (column B), as if Apple is just sliding features off a shelf and slapping them together until it feels it has a good mix. Maybe it is, but I doubt it.

The feature from column A might be a mini LED display, which is already in the 12.9-inch iPad Pro model, being migrated downstream to the cheaper 11-inch iPad Pro.

Every one of these guesses feels risk-free. No one is predicting a surprise M3 with a different core count, an 8-inch iPad Pro, or a significant redesign.

Obviously, you can’t go out on a limb like that without whispers of information: leaked designs, surprise patent applications, prototypes left behind in a bar. None of that exists. So, we have just these basic predictions.

What I really want to know, though, is how Apple will position the iPad Pro line later this year and into 2023. With the iPad Air (2022) running an M1 chip 8GB of RAM and a pair of 12MP cameras, the jump to the pricier 11-inch iPad pro appears more incremental than ever.

Whatever Apple unveils in October or November will set the strategy for the Pro line. A minor upgrade might indicate the slow devolution of the iPad Pro. In that case, Apple pumps up the Air until it’s Pro-ready, and then makes a wider line of Apple iPad Airs that range all the way up to a 12.9-in Apple iPad Air Max (M2, 16GB of RAM, 2TB max storage, mini LED, pro-motion screen, and LiDAR). 

My point is, let’s not trip over ourselves to applaud these latest Apple rumor morsels. What we’re hearing is all according to a well-worn Apple script. Call me when someone gets up on that Apple Theater stage and does something wild.

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