Apple is expected to release an update to its iPad lineup in September – meaning an unveiling could take place less than a month from now, although this is the most likely date. Now a new leak has shown what the next entry-level iPad could look like.
Venkatesh Gorantia says in a report for mysmartprice that the site has received CAD renderings of the upcoming tablet. If these are real, they show significant changes compared to the current iPad, which is arguably the biggest redesign of the entry-level model in its history. Here’s what the renderings show.
Flat-edge design, finally
The entry-level iPad looks different from the rest of the iPad range. The iPad Pro, Air and mini all have flat edges instead of the curved back the iPad has had in its entry-level model since 2010. This new tablet, assuming the renders are true, will bring the same industrial design language to use across the 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 seems unlikely. As you know, there are two versions of the 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 other attaches 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-generation 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 problem.
Lightning or USB-C?
Here’s another puzzle. There have been rumors that the next iPad, like the rest of the iPad lineup, would switch from Lightning to USB-C for connectivity. If so, that surely means it will switch to the Apple Pencil 2 – I just can’t imagine Apple redesigning the original Pencil with a USB-C connector on top.
Alternatively, maybe these USB-C rumors are wrong (Gorantia says it’s not clear anyway) and there will be no change from the Lightning connector, in which case I think the first-gen Pencil is the favorite to continue.
Larger screen but square corners
The other iPads all have screens with gently curved corners, which match the curved edges of the tablet itself. But the renderings show that there will be right-angled and sharp corners on the screen. On the other hand, it seems that the tablet will have a larger screen. Apple has carefully increased the screen size of the iPad from the original 9.7-inch screen to the current 10.2-inch size. It seems likely to me that Apple will increase the size by shrinking the bezels and put a 10.5-inch screen here, similar to a previous version of the iPad Air. Still, one major design element won’t change, it seems.
The 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 the 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 to keep costs down.
This is not 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 rendering shows a pair of speaker grilles top and bottom, suggesting quad speakers. This could 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 6.98 mm) show a slimmer tablet than now. Oh, and it looks like it will 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 a value the iPad is. With better speakers, a stylish design and bigger screen, it will be even more remarkable value.