Rumor: Apple to launch 9.7" iPad Pro -- not Air -- in March with Pencil & Smart Keyboard support

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in iPad
A report on Thursday claims Apple is preparing to launch a next-generation 9.7-inch iPad model at a widely rumored special event in March, but instead of extending the iPad Air lineage will brand the tablet under its newly-minted "Pro" line.




Prior to today, Apple was expected to debut a third-generation iPad Air product next month, but 9to5Mac says the forthcoming 9.7-inch slate will be branded as an iPad Pro variant and come with trappings commensurate of the badging, like support for Apple Pencil.

The purported shift mirrors Apple's MacBook naming convention, which currently covers three distinct tiers in MacBook Pro, MacBook Air and MacBook, each clearly delineated both by capability and aesthetics. For example the top-end MacBook Pro series comes in 13-inch and 15-inch flavors, the smaller of which crosses over with the more portable but less powerful 13-inch MacBook Air thin-and-light.

If Apple follows convention the smaller iPad Pro offering set to launch next month will be joined by a less capable 9.7-inch iPad Air, perhaps without a Smart Connector and Apple Pencil support. Similarly, the current iPad mini would become an Air variant, further streamlining a sometimes confusing tablet hierarchy.

It remains to be seen how the company plans to differentiate its tablets beyond internal specs, however. Traditionally, the iPad ecosystem has adhered to an overarching design trajectory, albeit applied to iPad Air and iPad mini at staggered intervals depending on a specific model's refresh cycle.

As previously reported, Apple's next-gen iPad is expected to sport a Smart Connector for attaching powered accessories, suggesting the company intends to market a compact version of its iPad Pro's Smart Keyboard. The 9.7-inch tablet should also feature a rear camera flash and quad speakers for stereo sound in both landscape and portrait viewing orientations.

Apple is anticipated to debut the new 9.7-inch iPad, alongside a next-generation 4-inch iPhone and miscellaneous Apple Watch announcements, at a media event on March 15.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 35
    I get the feeling Apple is resetting the iPad line which will also reset sales expectations.
    suddenly newtoncanukstormcornchipjahblade
  • Reply 2 of 35
    "Every inch an iPad Pro."
    smack416justadcomics
  • Reply 3 of 35
    josujosu Posts: 217member
    I told you so, at lest in another post. It will be to the 12.9" iPad Pro what the 13" MacBook Pro is to the 15". Sadly it probably also means, that the Air 2 will not drop the price, and the Pro 9.7" will be 150-200€ more expensive than the current Air 2 putting it out of my budget, sad.
    edited February 2016
  • Reply 4 of 35
    I would purchase this.  I just reviewed the iPad Pro at the Apple Store and for me, it is just too large, I prefer the portability of he 9.7".  I liked both the Pencil and Apple's keypad cover, but not sure how functional a smaller keyboard would be?
  • Reply 5 of 35
    josujosu Posts: 217member
    emoeller said:
    I would purchase this.  I just reviewed the iPad Pro at the Apple Store and for me, it is just too large, I prefer the portability of he 9.7".  I liked both the Pencil and Apple's keypad cover, but not sure how functional a smaller keyboard would be?
    Reading your post I thought maybe this could be useful for you

    https://www.macstories.net/stories/working-on-the-ipad-one-year-later-still-my-favorite-computer/

    A little bit dense but useful reading for the power user.
    edited February 2016
  • Reply 6 of 35
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,791member
    Well this sucks!    This will likely mean a half assed upgrade to the iPad Air which will keep its performance artificially low.   Sometimes I don't think Apple really wants the iPad lineup to be successful.   Many of us where waiting for a decent upgrade to the iPad Air last year and got nothing for that wait.    It isn't like iPad Pro was ever in the equation.
  • Reply 7 of 35
    I've always thought the Pencil could make the iPad Pro a great drawing tool for kids, but the combo is too expensive.  If the mid-sized iPad -- and maybe eventually the Mini iPad -- support the Pencil, this would make a kid-oriented iPad drawing setup more affordable.
  • Reply 8 of 35
    wizard69 said:
    Well this sucks!    This will likely mean a half assed upgrade to the iPad Air which will keep its performance artificially low.   Sometimes I don't think Apple really wants the iPad lineup to be successful.   Many of us where waiting for a decent upgrade to the iPad Air last year and got nothing for that wait.    It isn't like iPad Pro was ever in the equation.
    Hmm...I take this to mean the iPad Air is being phased out. I mean what could Apple bring to the Air that they're not bringing to this mythical Pro? Who cares what the device is called.
    netmagemike1anome
  • Reply 9 of 35
    That's fine as long as it doesn't come with an iPad Pro price. They could easily keep the Air 2 pricing structure, and still make a killing with Pencil and Smart Cover sales. The Pencil would be a day one purchase for me, as it would make photo editing so much easier than current implementations. 
  • Reply 10 of 35
    If it's the same price as the iPad Air, I won't mind. If it's more, plus the cost of the pencil, I'm going to hold off.
  • Reply 11 of 35
    I've always thought the Pencil could make the iPad Pro a great drawing tool for kids, but the combo is too expensive.  If the mid-sized iPad -- and maybe eventually the Mini iPad -- support the Pencil, this would make a kid-oriented iPad drawing setup more affordable.
    You realize there are a ton of cheaper styluses out there that work with nearly all iPads? Including 53's Pencil?
    edited February 2016 jfc1138
  • Reply 12 of 35
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,884member
    It's not beyond the realm of possibility that the new 9.7" prices like the Air 2 and the Air 2 drops down to the Air pricing. I just hope they offer a cellular version with 64GB. Don't need 128. 
  • Reply 13 of 35
    I'm not buying this rumour. If they phased out the Air, then they've just created two iPads with the same name (one recently launched), what's the original Pro called after this one is launched? It's called the iPad Pro, they'd have to call this the iPad Pro 10", but the other is just the iPad Pro or will it be renamed?

    If on the other hand they plan to keep the Air, how in the hell are they going to differentiate between the two, there aren't that many differences between the current iPad Pro and the current iPad Air, except the pencil, the current chip and more RAM plus the smart connector, big deal. All they need to do is upgrade the Air with a current chip and it's only missing RAM and pencil support (plus smart connector), not enough to differentiate between two 10" iPads, really, RAM is usually a BTO option.

    This rumour makes no sense, there just aren't enough features to create a tiered set of models in the same form factor in a tablet device in Apple's portfolio.

    What would happen to 10" keyboards? All the same cases fit both models, but some have the smart connector and yet that won't work with non-smart connector iPads, which will sell in greater numbers. If they want manufacturers to build smart connector products, they need the smart connect on not just a tiny portion of products, but all the iDevice products.

    This rumour makes no sense.

    What makes sense is the Air gets (some/all?) Pro features, but retains the Air moniker to keep things simple.
  • Reply 14 of 35
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 1,854member
    A report on Thursday claims Apple is preparing to launch a next-generation 9.7-inch iPad model at a widely rumored special event in March, but instead of extending the iPad Air lineage will brand the tablet under its newly-minted "Pro" line.




    Prior to today, Apple was expected to debut a third-generation iPad Air product next month, but 9to5Mac says the forthcoming 9.7-inch slate will be branded as an iPad Pro variant and come with trappings commensurate of the badging, like support for Apple Pencil.

    The purported shift mirrors Apple's MacBook naming convention, which currently covers three distinct tiers in MacBook Pro, MacBook Air and MacBook, each clearly delineated both by capability and aesthetics. For example the top-end MacBook Pro series comes in 13-inch and 15-inch flavors, the smaller of which crosses over with the more portable but less powerful 13-inch MacBook Air thin-and-light.

    If Apple follows convention the smaller iPad Pro offering set to launch next month will be joined by a less capable 9.7-inch iPad Air, perhaps without a Smart Connector and Apple Pencil support. Similarly, the current iPad mini would become an Air variant, further streamlining a sometimes confusing tablet hierarchy.

    It remains to be seen how the company plans to differentiate its tablets beyond internal specs, however. Traditionally, the iPad ecosystem has adhered to an overarching design trajectory, albeit applied to iPad Air and iPad mini at staggered intervals depending on a specific model's refresh cycle.

    As previously reported, Apple's next-gen iPad is expected to sport a Smart Connector for attaching powered accessories, suggesting the company intends to market a compact version of its iPad Pro's Smart Keyboard. The 9.7-inch tablet should also feature a rear camera flash and quad speakers for stereo sound in both landscape and portrait viewing orientations.

    Apple is anticipated to debut the new 9.7-inch iPad, alongside a next-generation 4-inch iPhone and miscellaneous Apple Watch announcements, at a media event on March 15.

    Are you kidding me? Duh! "air" is out. What moron thought that would last after the last MacBook?
  • Reply 15 of 35
    emoeller said:
    I would purchase this.  I just reviewed the iPad Pro at the Apple Store and for me, it is just too large, I prefer the portability of he 9.7".  I liked both the Pencil and Apple's keypad cover, but not sure how functional a smaller keyboard would be?
    I'd go for an even larger iPad Pro, but there would have to be much better implementation by developers with regard to the palm rejection. I've found no satisfactory implementations of this feature, save for Apple's VERY limited Notes program. A larger iPad Pro would be ideal for music production, video production, design and graphics.
    edited February 2016 justadcomicsargonaut
  • Reply 16 of 35
    “You’re nuts for wanting a simpler naming convention,” they said.
    “People would get confused by it,” they said.

    Now I’m just laughing. Can’t wait to buy a 12.9” iPad Air mini and 4” iPhone Pro Plus.
    edited February 2016
  • Reply 17 of 35
    I've always thought the Pencil could make the iPad Pro a great drawing tool for kids, but the combo is too expensive.  If the mid-sized iPad -- and maybe eventually the Mini iPad -- support the Pencil, this would make a kid-oriented iPad drawing setup more affordable.
    You realize there are a ton of cheaper styluses out there that work with nearly all iPads? Including 53's Pencil?
    The Pencil is not some cheap passive "stylus". 
    jahblade
  • Reply 18 of 35
    So we could possibly see:

    iPad:  7.9" ($399) / 9.7" ($499)

    iPad Pro:  9.7" ($699) / 12.9" ($799)


    Those are all starting prices, of course.

  • Reply 19 of 35
    anomeanome Posts: 1,269member
    I see this working one of two ways...

    1. The Air line ends with the Air 2, which will continue to be sold and supported much like the iPad 2 was. So you have the mini, the 9.7 Pro and the 12.9 Pro. The 9.7 Pro fits into the pricepoint currently used by the Air 2.

    2. They actually just roll in a bunch of Pro features into the Air (pencil support, smart connector, etc), and continue to use the Air line for a few more generations.

    I think maintaining the 9.7" Air and the 9.7" Pro as separate lines isn't really going to work. Of course, Apple may well disagree. They disagree with me on a number of things. Most of the time, they're even proven right, so we'll just have to wait and see.
    1983
  • Reply 20 of 35
    I think they're naming pro because the "air" moniker will not apply due to the fact that in order to have pen support the 9.7 inch pro will be much heavier than the ipad air...you people are not thinking right
    argonaut
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