Apple will take the first step in ditching its long-established Lightning connector for the increasingly-popular USB-C standard this week when it pulls back the covers on a new iPad Pro.
The large-screen iPad will be the first of the company's 'iDevice' family to adopt USB-C, which is now also the socket of choice on the MacBook Pro laptops and is also tipped to appear on a revamped MacBook Air to be revealed at the event in New York this Tuesday.
Here’s what Apple is planning for the new iPad Pro, according to people familiar with the plans:
- nearly edge-to-edge screens with slimmer, symmetrical bezels like the latest iPhones.
- a USB-C connector for charging and syncing data, the first time Apple is bringing this charging standard to its iOS devices. This will leave the iPhone as Apple’s only major product to use the Lightning connector. It will also be the first time Apple has changed the charging port on iOS devices since 2012.
- Face ID will be used for unlocking the new iPad, and the Home button and fingerprint scanner will be removed. Unlike with iPhones, Face ID will work in both portrait and landscape orientations. Face ID will enable Animojis (and the personalized variety known as Memojis) on iPads for the first time.
- the iPad’s external look will be redesigned as well. It will include more squared-off sides like the iPhone 5, 5S, and SE from a few years ago.
- a faster processor that’s a variant of the A12 Bionic chip recently added to the iPhone XS and iPhone XR
- a custom Apple graphics chip, the first time this would be included in an iPad.
- an updated Apple Pencil, succeeding the original version launched in 2015.
The iPad Pro update comes at an important time for the device, which hasn’t been refreshed since mid-2017, and is the most significant in the product’s history. The device was originally launched in 2015 in part as a counter-measure to Microsoft's Surface Pro, which gained a following with business users seeking large tablets with support for attachable keyboards and styluses.
The iPad Pro models, which have larger screens, better cameras, and faster processors, are more expensive, which has sustained revenue growth.
While the tablet market is contracting overall, the iPad has been slowly regaining momentum thanks to new software and lower-priced models.
Apple is also planning to launch a new laptop destined to replace the ageing MacBook Air, and a new Mac Mini geared toward professional users, according to people familiar with the plans. Both devices have endured gone several years without notable changes.
This, combined with interest in larger smartphones and competing PCs, led Apple to report the fewest Mac sales since 2010 in its fiscal third quarter.
The new entry-level laptop will replace the MacBook Air, which Steve Jobs originally pulled out of a manila envelope a decade ago. It will have a higher-resolution 13-inch screen, as well as slimmer bezels around the display.
The first update to the Mac Mini since 2014 will add new processors and features for professional users. Apple iss also working on refreshed iMacs, iMac Pros, and 12-inch MacBooks with faster processors, and at least some of these updates could be ready for the October launch.