Apple has been showing a lot of love for its iPads recently. There was the launch of a new iPad Air and updated iPad mini in March, not that long after the radical upgrades to the iPad Pro range towards the end of last year. The latest rumor of what comes next for the iPad Pro may affect next year’s iPhones, too.
A prediction that the next iPad Pro models will include a technology new to Apple’s tablets has come to light.
The first sight of that tablet would be in the last quarter or this year, or early 2020. That will have a key improved antenna tech which Apple will likely also put in the iPhone.
This puts the company in a great position to release an iPhone with 5G connectivity and follow that with an iPad Pro with 5G. The 5G tablet would debut sometime in 2021, apparently, while it’s thought the first iPhone with 5G will be released in fall 2020.
So far in advance, it’s easy to question the validity of such rumors. Well, it would be, except that this one comes from the phenomenally reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo from TF International Securities.
The report, covered by the Economic Daily News, has some interesting nuggets. Here’s all you need to know.
Production may start this fall
That makes sense as it would be a year since the last iPad Pro tablets were revealed in October 2018. But the report says it may be later, perhaps the first quarter of 2020. Which also works, as Apple likes to release tablet hardware in March, traditionally. Since it’s going to look the same as the current model, we may not see any clues in terms of leaked hardware, because, well, how can we tell it’s not last year’s model?
The key upgrade is LCP Soft Board
What’s that, you ask? LCP stands for Liquid Crystal Polymer and soft board means that it’s flexible. That may not sound that interesting, but the reason it’s important is it allows different components to be connected together in different ways, to avoid the strictures and limitations that printed circuit boards, which are rigid, require.
Introducing an LCP soft board could lead to the antenna and the motherboard being connected in ways that reduce signal loss and make for better performance, especially in terms of networking.
Some suggestions point to a doubling in wireless connectivity speeds.
Ming-Chi Kuo points out that iPads are now productivity tools as much as they are entertainment devices. It’s true that Apple has been blending the worlds of computer and tablet more and more, so improved network connections may be more important than ever. More important even than on an iPhone in some circumstances, the analyst hints.
5G, but not yet
If the capability of fast networking is built-in, then it probably means a 5G baseband chip would make things even better. The report suggests that won’t happen in this next iteration, though, but will come in 2021.
Why not 2020?
Well, if the report is accurate that the next iPad Pro will be revealed late this year or early next, it’s too soon for Apple.
Although the company likes to introduce some significant tech upgrades in its iPad Pro tablets before its iPhones, the timing of early 2020 seems too optimistic.
Mind you, this is Apple, so you can’t rule anything out.
By installing the LCP Soft Boards in readiness for super-whizzy connectivity, Apple will be in a stronger position to upgrade to 5G in the version that follows.
Oh, and by the way, let’s remember that almost no other tablet manufacturers have a cellular option, so having 5G connectivity in its tablet is likely to be unique to Apple.
LCP Soft Boards are pricey
This is why we may have to wait until next year to see it in the iPad Pro models. Apple will want to make its money back from the current iPad Pro before it splashes out on a more expensive technology in the next one.
The next iPad Pro will look the same as now
In other words, it’s predicted that the design will stay the same as the current models and it’ll come in two screen sizes, 11in and 12.9in. That makes sense: the new Pro tablets have met considerable praise for their striking design and the near edge-to-edge screens mean that even a 12.9in iPad isn’t unwieldy.
What about the iPhone?
The report concludes with the suggestion that next year’s iPhone, expected to be revealed in September 2020, will include LCP Soft Board antenna technology which will connect to the 5G chip that’s expected to be included.
The report says (in a Google Translation):
After the cumulative production experience after the start of shipment and expansion in the first half of next year, it is also possible to supply the LCP soft-board antenna of the new iPhone in the second half of next year.
The 5G iPad Pro will follow after that.
It’s dangerous to second-guess Apple this far from a product unveiling, but the logic – 5G iPhone followed by 5G iPad Pro, is hard to fault.