Apple is expected to release an update to its iPad range in September—meaning an unveiling could take place less than a month from now, though this is the most likely date. Now, a new leak has shown what the next entry-level iPad could look like.
Venkatesh Gorantia, in a report for mysmartprice, says that the site has received CAD renders of the upcoming tablet. If these are genuine, they show significant changes over the current iPad which are arguably the biggest redesign to the entry-level model in its history. Here’s what the renders show.
Flat-Edge Design, At Last
The entry-level iPad looks different from the rest of the iPad range. The iPad Pro, Air and mini all have flat edges rather than the curved back the iPad has had in its entry-level model since 2010. This new tablet, assuming the renders are real, will bring the same industrial design language to bear on the whole range. Which raises another question…
Compatibility with Apple Pencil 2?
This is physically possible, given the flat edges, but there’s no magnetic charging panel on the renders, so it looks unlikely. As you’ll know, there are two versions of Apple Pencil. The first has a pop-off top that reveals a Lightning connector so you can charge the Pencil from the iPad’s Lightning port. The second snaps magnetically to the side of the iPad Air, iPad Pro and iPad mini, for pairing and charging. Either the new iPad will have the magnetic connector and the first-gen Pencil is history, or it will continue to be only compatible with the entry-level tablet, as it is now. In turn, this raises another issue.
Lightning or USB-C?
Here’s another conundrum. There have been rumors that the next iPad would, like the rest of the iPad range, switch from Lightning to USB-C for connectivity. If so, that surely means that it will switch to Apple Pencil 2—I simply cannot imagine Apple re-fashioning the original Pencil with a USB-C connector atop.
Alternatively, maybe those USB-C rumors are wrong (Gorantia says it’s not clear either way) and there won’t be any change from the Lightning connector, in which case I think first-gen Pencil is favorite to continue.
Bigger Display But Square Corners
The other iPads all have displays with gently curved corners, matching the curved edges of the tablet itself. But the renders show there will be right-angle-sharp corners to the screen. On the other hand, it looks like the tablet will have a bigger display. Apple has gently increased the screen size on the iPad from its original 9.7-inch display to its current 10.2-inch size. It seems likely to me that Apple will increase the size by shrinking the bezels and putting a 10.5-inch screen here, similar to an earlier version of iPad Air. Even so, one big design element won’t be changing, it seems.
Touch ID Home Button Is Here To Stay
Unlike the iPad Pro with Face ID, or the iPad Air and iPad mini with Touch ID mounted in the power button, the renders show a Touch ID home button on the front of the next iPad.
Since we know that button could be hidden away in the power button, which would make the iPad an all-screen machine like the Air, the only conclusion is that a home button would remain in order to keep costs down.
This isn’t a bad thing. After all, the entry-level iPad is outstanding value at $329, and the next model will remain so, even if the sticker price goes up to justify the new design, especially if the predicted A14 Bionic chip is built in.
The render shows a pair of speaker grilles top and bottom, which suggests quad speakers. This may be part of Apple bringing Spatial Audio to more of its devices and it’s not on the current entry-level model.
Rear camera panel
The rear camera will continue to be a single lens, as now, but in a raised panel, the render suggests. This is not entirely surprising as the dimensions (248.62 x 179.50 x 6.98mm) show a slimmer tablet than now. Oh, and it looks like it’ll have a flash for the first time, too.
The Bottom Line
While some will be disappointed that the next entry-level iPad isn’t an all-screen affair, it’s important to remember just how good value the iPad is. With better speakers, a classy-looking design and bigger display, it’ll be even more remarkable value.