Time is running out for Apple to announce any tablet hardware refreshes, and if it fails to do so in the next 49 days, it will be the first time since 2009 that the company hasn’t put a new iPad up for sale (the first-generation iPad was released the following year.)
The analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has long believed that there will be no such announcements this year, but has now expanded on exactly when he expects Apple to update each of its four tablets next year.
In a post on his Medium blog, Kuo revealed that the iPad Air 6 would be first out of the blocks in the first quarter of 2024. As previously rumored, Kuo reckons this will come in two different sizes for the first time — the existing 10.9-inch version and a new, larger iPad Pro-matching 12.9-inch model.
As with previous versions, the screen will still be LCD panels (albeit with an Oxide backplane — “the same spec as the existing mini-LED iPad Pro’s”, Kuo says) and you can expect a speed bump too.
Next up is the main event: the new-look 2024 iPad Pro. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman has previously said this will be the “first major update to the product since 2018”, with an OLED screen, the power of the M3 chip and a reimagined Magic Keyboard.
Gurman predicted a spring/summer 2024 release date, and Kuo seems to broadly agree, suggesting that mass production will arrive in late quarter one, or quarter two (later than planned thanks to production issues with the OLED panel modules).
These changes will likely cost the consumer more, Kuo says. “If Apple wants to maintain the price gap between the iPad Air and iPad Pro to preserve its existing product segmentation strategy, it means that the new OLED iPad Pros may see a price increase,” he writes.
The two remaining iPads — the entry-level 11th generation iPad and refreshed iPad mini 7 — are scheduled to go into mass production in the second half of the year, Kuo says, so these could perhaps arrive towards the end of the year as something to boost sales ahead of Christmas. Though Gurman has stated he doesn’t expect these to be more than simple spec boosts.
Kuo notes that the ninth-generation iPad, which is still on sale as a cheaper alternative to the superior tenth-generation model, will finally be discontinued before 2024 is out — which will complete Apple’s transition to USB-C in its tablets.
So it appears Apple will be spreading the updates throughout the year, rather than giving us one big iPad-focused event. That might be an attempt to generate more press coverage and boost sales, though Kuo isn’t optimistic on that front. He’s forecasting shipments of around 52 to 54 million units — a slight increase on the 50 million shipped this year, but some way short of 2022’s 63 million.