Apple's first 5G iPad might come out 'as early as April' (but 5G support is not guaranteed)
UPDATE: Bloomberg has quickly joined the chorus of reputable sources anticipating a "refresh" to Apple's iPad Pro line "as early as April." While the rock-solid financial publication is not ready to commit to a firmer launch window than that, many of the information previously rumored on the next-gen 11 and 12.9-inchers is essentially etched in stone now that "people with knowledge of the matter" have verified these details.
As expected, there are no big design changes in the pipeline, but a mini-LED display upgrade is all but guaranteed for "at least the larger model", which should become significantly brighter while also offering better contrast ratio than its forerunners.
An "updated" processor is predictably enough another important revision expected here, with the unnamed new chipset (A14X?) of the iPad Pro (2021) family tipped to provide raw power on par with the M1-based MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac Mini. Curiously enough, there's no mention of optional 5G support in Bloomberg's latest report, but for what it's worth, Apple has been purportedly testing the introduction of Thunderbolt connectivity.
This doesn't seem like a done deal yet, but if the upcoming iPad Pro 11 and 12.9 do end up gaining this new port, that means faster data transfer speeds and additional support for accessories like external monitors and hard drives without requiring another change in charging technology. Our original story follows below.
Rumored at one point to see daylight as early as last fall, Apple's next-gen iPad Pros may keep power users and 5G enthusiasts waiting until the "second quarter of 2021" after all.
Of course, the beginning of Q2 is just a couple of weeks away, but the latest Digitimes report (via MacRumors) is likely to still come as a disappointment for folks who chose to trust... the same publication's previous report on the same topic, released a little over a week ago.
Leaked iPad Pro (2021) renders
At least one prominent Twitter leaker also appears to have changed his mind about a special event previously "guaranteed" to take place by the end of this month. While March is not over yet, Jon Prosser seems to think the iPad Pro (2021) announcement will ultimately happen sometime in April, which could well line up with the vaguer second quarter prediction from Digitimes regarding "volume shipments."
What about the AirPods 3 and long overdue AirTags?
It remains to be seen if the revised timeline means the highly anticipated third-gen AirPods will be unveiled alongside new iPad Pro models with the same old 11 and 12.9-inch screen sizes after all. Although Apple's upgraded premium tablets are expected to strongly resemble their March 2020-released predecessors at first glance, mini-LED display technology and optional 5G connectivity could be among the main new features, possibly explaining this hold-up and fully justifying a switch for plenty of people owning current-gen devices.
Live images purportedly depicting Apple's next-gen AirPods
The (non-Pro) AirPods 3, meanwhile, are likely to incorporate the state-of-the-art active noise cancellation capabilities of the first-gen AirPods Pro without jacking the base price all the way up to $250 and thus being able to fend off Samsung's slightly lower-cost Galaxy Buds Pro.
Another long-awaited (and long overdue) product widely expected to make its formal debut together with Apple's next-gen true wireless earbuds and high-end tablets should compete directly against Tile's popular tracking devices and Samsung's recently released Galaxy SmartTags. The aptly named AirTags have been in the rumor mill for well over a year now, hitting a number of mysterious snags and delays in their long and convoluted road to commercial availability.
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