iPad Pro 2020: release date, price, specs, features, what to expect

iPad Pro 2020: release date, price, specs, features, what to expect
The Apple iPad — the product that officially made tablets cool and the very product that survived the great decline in its market niche over the past few years. It’s often praised as the only thing worth buying if you are looking for a tablet and for good reason. The iPads have proven that they have staying power thanks to their hardware prowess and long, long software support times.

Apple has also worked hard to diversify its tablet line so that every user can find the right fit for them — in terms of size and price point. We have the iPad Mini, the budget-oriented iPad 9.7 inch, the iPad Air, which was revived earlier this year, and the “laptop replacement” class iPad Pro line.

The latter may be due for a refresh this year, come March. The rumor mill hasn't been very generous with the info on what to expect, but we do have a few juicy tidbits to go on. Here's everything we know about the 2020 iPad Pro.

Design and build

Apple is known to stick to its designs for a few years before even thinking about a facelift. Considering that the Pro line got its new looks just one generation ago, we don’t expect any change to its looks to come in 2020. So, the same square-shaped slates, one with an 11-inch display and one with a 12.9-inch.

However, we might get an upgrade that makes them sturdier. The iPad Pro 11-inch and iPad Pro 12.9-inch that came out in 2018 are extremely thin. That makes them beautiful to behold and a pleasure to hold, but they are also prone to bending. Like, really really easily.

In the past, Apple had a similar problem with the iPhone 6 Plus. This was fixed a year later, as the iPhone 6s line was made with sturdier materials. So, if we see new iPad Pro models come out this year, we would expect that Apple adds a stealthy upgrade to their structure, which makes them much harder to bend.

Everyone gets a fidget spinner

We've been hearing about a triple camera setup on the next iPad Pro ever since September of last year. It seems Apple was playing around with prototypes and ideas on how to incorporate it exactly and some information leaked through the cracks. However, we may not be looking at a ultra-wide, wide, telephoto setup like on the iPhone 11 Pro. The iPad Pro's camera module may have a special surprise for us — something Apple has been working on for years. More about this in the camera section below.

Display — is that a microLED aggression?

Apple has been looking for ways to improve LED panels for years now. Supposedly, the future is in the so-called microLED tech, which allows for the building of screens with individual pixels smaller than 100 microns. These provide better luminance for less power and are extremely flexible when it comes to shaping a screen with rounded corners, notches, or whatever else you might need.

However, microLED is still too expensive and hard to make. So, renowned Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has said that Apple is looking into the option to make miniLED panels for its 2020 devices. These are a bridging tech, somewhere between our current LED and microLED. The miniLED pixels are not as small, but it still carries some of the benefits of the microLED tech when it comes to contrast, luminance, power-efficiency, and flexibility. Yet it's only 20% more expensive than regular LED.

In other words — we might get longer battery life and even better screens on the iPad Pros. Yaaay!

Hardware and 5G

The top-tier iPads have always launched with an upgraded version of this year’s iPhone processor. So, in 2018, we had Apple A12 Bionic chips in the iPhone XS line, which was very, very powerful. The iPad Pros of 2018 had the even more robust A12X Bionic — a chip that started stepping on the toes of laptops and put the iPad product in the “laptop replacement” category. Well, at least theoretically — the iPad was still being held back by iOS. But more on that later.

If new iPad Pros are to come this year, we would expect them to have an A13X Bionic under the hood — an amped version of the six-core chip that's in the iPhone 11.

5G is also a hot topic lately as every company is trying to put out a product that supports the ultra-fast connection. However, Apple is known for taking its time with new stuff while it’s still in its wobbly stages and not proved as usable. It is expected that the first iPhones to support 5G will come out in 2020, while the first iPad Pro 5G to have the next-gen modems will take their time all the way to 2021.

In other words, if there are iPad Pro 2020 models to come, they will not be much more powerful than their predecessors — if you have an iPad Pro 2018, you wouldn't find yourself racing to upgrade.

Cameras — is that a triclops?

OK, what's this triple camera module about? Are we going to be taking Portrait Mode photos with our iPad?

No, probably not. Leaksters say we will have a wide and ultra-wide camera on the new iPad Pro. That third sensor there is a Time of Flight camera or 3D Camera, if you are looking for a more marketable name.

Allegedly, it'll incorporate tech that Apple has been working on "for years" and be more accurate at mapping out 3D objects than Face ID is. Apple has gone on record to say that it believes augmented reality is the future. So, essentially, the iPad Pro might have a sensor to map out rooms, measure distances, and place digital objects in a realtime viewfinder super accurately.

Why and how that would be applied — we have yet to see.

Smart Connector

You may have spotted that some of these leaks show us a trio of mysterious dots on the lower back of the iPad. What's that about?

Well, the rumor mill is completely mum on that, so we'd have to speculate. It could be a connector for an entirely new type of accessory for the Pro line. Maybe something to do with the 3D-mapping technologies or something that would take care of charging and data transfer.

But here's another take. We have been hearing that Apple wants to remove all ports from its mobile devices and move towards a cordless future. What if this new Smart Connector is the first step — a MagSafe-like link that can handle charging on the iPads, which don't support wireless charging?

That's a bit of a long shot, considering that the iPad Pro like just got USB Type-C. Apple couldn't possibly be in such a hurry to get rid of it, right?

Software — in comes iPadOS

As we already mentioned, the iPad Pros of 2018 were extremely powerful but we barely got to use that power since iOS is kind of restrictive in its ways. That’s why, in 2019, Apple branched the iPad operating system into a new thing — it is now called iPadOS. The new software came with enhanced multitasking, a lot more gestures, and general quality of life improvements.

iPadOS greatly improved the productivity options on the tablets and even *gasp* gave us a real file system where we can actually download, copy, and manipulate files. Granted, the multitasking features still feel a bit clumsy, but we are getting there.

Apple really wants you to consider the iPad Pro as a laptop replacement or — in the case of actual professional work — an assisting device always at your side. So, we expect that 2020 would bring an update to iPadOS, further enhancing these features. Would asking for proper mouse support be too much? (note: there currently is a mouse option hidden in the Accessibility Menu, but the cursor you get is an obnoxious circle instead of a pointer)

Price and release date

Apple usually upgrades its iPad Pros about 18 months apart. Launch dates usually come in March or October. And, since the iPad Pro 2018 was launched in October, we are expecting to get a refresh this March.

It seems that Cupertino really likes to keep two Pro iPads in its portfolio — one large and one... regular-sized. These were the 12.9-inch and 11-inch models in 2018. So, we expect both to be reiterated.

As for price, again, we believe (and hope) there wouldn't be much of a change there. So, a $799 starting price for the iPad Pro 11-inch and $999 for the iPad Pro 12.9-inch. If you want to add 4G LTE modems to them, that'd be $949 for the 11-inch and $1149 for the 12.9-inch as starting points.

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