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Apple iPad Pro (2018) preview: Everything we know so far

UPDATED: Apple's own iOS 12 code shows the redesign

Much has changed in the world of Apple devices since the last high-end iPad Pro models (10.5in shown) in June 2017, and it all comes down to one thing: the iPhone X.

Last year’s super-flagship iPhone delivered a dramatic overhaul of Apple’s smartphone design, kicking bezel – and fingerprint sensors – to the curb while introducing the TrueDepth camera, Face ID security, and even Animoji. The world is different now that we have talking poop emoji.

It’s about time for an iPad Pro upgrade, and unsurprisingly, rumours and leaks suggest that Apple is about to give its larger touchscreen devices the iPhone X treatment, complete with a redesign and facial scanning smarts. Here’s everything we’ve heard so far.

When will the Apple iPad Pro (2018) be out?

When will the Apple iPad Pro (2018) be out?

Apple’s last big reveal event happened on 12 September, where we saw the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR, and the Apple Watch Series 4. But no iPad Pro, unfortunately.

What about the new iPad Pro, then? Looks like we’ll see it on 30 October, instead. Apple just announced an event in Brooklyn for then, which is expected to highlight the refreshed iPad Pro models and new Macs, as well.

Given the hand-drawn look of the invite above (via The Verge), an emphasis on creativity – i.e. via the new iPad Pro and Pencil 2 – seems very likely. And it’s one of many invite types, apparently, with even more creative variations seen below.

Fact or fiction?

It’s happening this week!

How much will the Apple iPad Pro (2018) cost?

How much will the Apple iPad Pro (2018) cost?

This is the big question, right? The iPhone X brought a significant redesign to Apple’s smaller devices, but did so at a huge price premium. Will we see the same kind of increase on the iPad front?

Some kind of bump seems likely, but we haven’t heard any compelling rumours either way at this point. Currently, the 10.5in iPad Pro (2017) starts at £619, while the 12.9in model starts at £769.

Given that Apple didn’t drop the price of the iPhone XS from the iPhone X, as had been rumoured, we certainly don’t expect the new iPads to be any cheaper.

Fact or fiction?

Apple might bump the prices a smidge, maybe in the ballpark of £649 and £799 respectively, but we’re not anticipating vast increases – the iPad Pro is already pricey.

Also ReadApple iPhone XS review

What will the Apple iPad Pro (2018) look like?

What will the Apple iPad Pro (2018) look like?

If we believe Apple’s own iOS 12 beta code – and really, we should – then the new iPad will go very light on bezel but won’t have the iPhone X’s notch in tow.

That’s an interesting move, to say the least. Apple has trimmed down some of the bezel since the iPad’s early days, but there’s still a bit on the sides and larger chunks at the top and bottom.

However, iOS 12 code-diggers found an iPad icon that just shows a large screen dominating the entire face, with just a little bit of bezel all around and no cutout at the top. Perhaps the new iPad Pro will have a bit more bezel than the iPhone X – just enough to house the camera and sensors at the top, at least – but a lot less than past models. And that means no home button or fingerprint sensor. Unsurprisingly, the code also suggests iPhone X-like gesture controls for the iPads.

What you’re looking at above is a more detailed icon found by 9to5Mac just days before Apple’s official reveal event. It shows what we expect the new iPad Pro’s form factor to be, and while the bezel here is thicker than the iPhone X/XS for sure, it still puts the screen front and center and lops off the bigger chunks of bezel seen with the last model.

What might that look like? MySmartPrice and OnLeaks took a swing at speculative renders based on purported leaked CAD drawings (below), and they show an appealing device with a nearly all-screen front and a more angular shape overall.

The same 10.5in and 12.9in sizes are expected again. And yes, that’s metal on the back – there’s little speculation that Apple will make the switch to glass backings for the large iPads.

Fact or fiction

That’s the basic shape of the iPad, clearly, and the speculative renders below should come pretty close to what we’ll see this week.

What about the Apple iPad Pro (2018) screen?

The iPhone X’s screen resolution was only a little bit crisper than that of the iPhone 8 Plus, but it introduced a much bigger change in the shift from LCD to an OLED panel.

OLED panels allow for much-improved contrast and deeper black levels, and paired with the bezel-lite design, the results are pretty spectacular. So now the big question is: will the new iPad Pro also make the switch?

It’s certainly possible, although OLED supply constraints might be the only thing making Apple second-guess the decision – especially after rolling out two iPhone XS models last month.

That said, the iPad Pro already had a pretty incredible screen, with 120Hz ProMotion, True Tone colours, and fantastic resolution and brightness – so another LCD screen along those lines wouldn’t disappoint. MySmartPrice, for its part, believes that both Pro models will indeed stick with LCD this time around.

Fact or fiction?

We certainly hope that the switch to OLED pans out this year, but we’re not yet convinced.

How much power will the Apple iPad Pro (2018) pack?

How much power will the Apple iPad Pro (2018) pack?

Apple unveiled the A12 Bionic chip alongside the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR models, and it’s almost certainly the chip we’ll see in the new iPad Pro, as well.

But it sounds like the iPad Pro version will get an extra burst of speed thanks to an enhanced A12X edition. 9to5Mac reports that Apple will use a souped-up A12X chip with an ever faster GPU, giving the new iPad Pro a bit more muscle than the latest iPhones.

According to the report, the chip is codenamed "Vortex." Sounds appropriately forceful.

Fact or fiction?

The A12 Bionic is already the most powerful smartphone chip today, but the A12x should take it to another level.

What kind of cameras will the Apple iPad Pro (2018) have?

We’re a lot less interested in which camera is on the back of the iPad Pro and a lot more interested in what’s on front: the TrueDepth camera system from the iPhone X and XS, reportedly.

9to5Mac claims that it will use the same image signal processor as the new iPhone XS and iPhone XR. Also, iOS 12 code has uncovered mentions of the TrueDepth camera, Face ID, and Animoji for iPad, so it’s hard to believe that this won’t happen.

Also, according to 9to5Mac, the new iPad Pro will be able to use Face ID in both Portrait and Landscape orientation – but not when the iPad is upside-down.

On the back, will we see a dual-camera setup like on the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max? Honestly, we’re not expecting it. A surprising number of people use their iPads to take photos out and about (see: museums and concerts), but an iPad doesn’t need high-end snapping tech. Put the single shooter from the iPhone XR on there and it’ll be golden.

Fact or fiction?

There’s no doubt in our minds that the iPad is getting the TrueDepth camera system, and on the back, we’d be very surprised to see more than one main camera.

Is there anything else I should know about the Apple iPad Pro (2018)?

Is there anything else I should know about the Apple iPad Pro (2018)?

Rumours suggest a potential Apple Pencil 2 in the works, with AirPods-like proximity-based pairing with the new iPad Pro. 9to5Mac suggests that you’ll be able to switch the Pencil 2 between devices without plugging it into the iPad Pro’s charging port.

Noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes that Apple will trade its proprietary Lightning port for USB-C on the new iPad Pro models, and ship with a new 18W adapter. USB-C has gradually become the industry standard, although Apple has been the most notable holdout with its Lightning port.

Granted, the new iPhones don’t use USB-C cables, so it would seem to be an odd shift for Apple to make the move so soon after with the new iPads. But Kuo’s been dead-on in the past, including calling this year’s iPhone details nearly a year in advance, so we’d do well to hear him out.

9to5Mac has since confirmed the USB-C report, claiming that the new iPad Pro will be able to output 4K video to external monitors and feature a new Settings app section for changing output settings like resolution and HDR.

The site also claims that the iPad Pro models will feature a new kind of magnetic connector for accessories, like a new Smart Keyboard, so past Smart Connector peripherals are probably off-limits here.

Apple blog Macotakara suggests that the new iPad Pro will cut the 3.5mm headphone port that’s also been missing from recent iPhones, which is certainly disappointing.

Also, no glass backing means no wireless charging – but that seems less essential than on an iPhone, where you might pop it on and off of a charging pad during the day.

Fact or fiction?

All told, it sounds like the iPad Pro is in for a nicely alluring upgrade, from the design to the TrueDepth camera system and plenty more power in tow. We’re looking forward to seeing it for ourselves.