New renders for the rumored iPad Pro 2021 have hinted at the potential for the design direction Apple's next tablet could take.
Pigtou, with the help of David of @xleaks, published the following images and video, which are allegedly based on leaked CAD files of the smaller 11-inch version of Apple's next premium tablet. The concept iPad Pro looks a lot like the iPad Pro only with minor changes, but these could have big consequences.
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The main change from the previous generation is that there are more holes in the parts of the chassis where the quad-speaker system fires from. The current iPad Pro has 17 holes drilled on either side of the bottom USB-C port, but this render shows 15 on one side and 20 on the other. It's a small design tweak, but one that could indicate some larger changes to components and their placement going on within the iPad.
We also know from previous leaks that the larger 12.9-inch model may be getting smaller bezels around the display. Pigtou makes no mention of that here for the 11-inch version though.
The shape of the tablet remains the same as the previous generation. Even the dimensions are identical, at 247.6mm high, 178.5mm wide and 5.9mm thick; or 7.7mm thick if you include the height of the square camera bump too. That's good news since it means it'll still fit all the accessories for the current iPad Pro, such as the Magic Keyboard or Apple Pencil 2.
Other returning elements include the USB-C port, the rear Smart Connector for powering accessories, and dual rear cameras with LiDAR sensor.
Expect Face ID to return too, although it's possible Apple may also add the new power button-mounted Touch ID sensor it gave to the new iPad Air as an alternate unlocking method.
We don't know what chip the new iPad Pro will get yet. Since iPad Pros usually use higher-powered versions of Apple's newest mobile chipsets, it's likely we'll see a modified A14 chip of some kind, the silicon found in the iPad Air and the iPhone 12 series. If that's the case, then it could mean the iPad Pro will be compatible with 5G, a first for the iPad family.
Pigtou however speculates that it could be the same M1 chip found in the latest MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Mac Mini. It would certainly offer a lot of power if Apple wanted to focus on the iPad Pro as a serious laptop replacement. Plus we know iOS apps run on M1 chips due to shared architecture with Apple's A-series chips.
The new iPad Pro will release in May/June 2021, in Pigtou's opinion, which would be around the time of Apple's WWDC conference.
That's later than the 2020 iPad Pro's March release last year, but that version released without a launch event. Perhaps Apple wants to give the new tablets a share of the spotlight at the WWDC keynote alongside the latest versions of iOS and macOS.
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Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.