New is a relative term in the world of tablets and smartphones. As the mobile market has matured, smartphones have settled down into regular, incremental yearly refresh cycles. According to a report from AppleInsider, that will hold true next year for the iPad, with three tablets that will look and feel familiar. But, that same report suggests that bigger changes are in store for 2018 — one change that we’ve heard a bit about before, and then something altogether mysterious.
AppleInsider got their information from a note to investors from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has become almost the sole source of credible Apple rumors over the years. He says next year’s iPad launch (likely in the spring) will include three models — a 12.9″ iPad Pro refresh, a smaller 10.5″ version of the iPad Pro, and another 9.7″ iPad. The two new iPad Pro tablets are to have Apple’s new A10X processors, while the 9.7″ iPad will retain the A9X chipset and move to the A10X in 2018.
2018 should be the more interesting year. We’ve heard that next year’s iPhone will have an OLED display, and Kuo thinks that will carry over to the iPad in 2018. He expects those tablets will have AMOLED displays, which tend to have better contrast and more faithful color reproduction than LCD displays. More interesting are the multiple hardware upgrades Kuo mentions (and doesn’t specify), along with the possibility that a flexible AMOLED display could be used. We saw Lenovo playing around with flexible OLED displays not too long ago, although it’s still too soon to say whether or not Apple is actually planning a tablet you can roll up for 2018.
The biggest question of all is whether or not any of this will matter — tablet sales have been slowing down, even for Apple. Kuo suggests that the smaller iPad Pro could be marketed more towards schools, which is where demand for tablets is still growing. There’s a good chance that 2018 could give the iPad a shot in the arm, though — not only does it sound tantalizing, but the new iPad will be coming around the time many users with older iPads will finally be looking to upgrade. The longer than expected tablet refresh cycle has been cited as one reason behind slowing tablet sales, but if Apple gives people something worth upgrading to, 2018 could be the start of an iPad comeback.
Via Cult of Mac