Reports have claimed for years that Apple is working on a new bigger iPad, but the company has yet to actually launch the device. However, one of the most accurate Apple analysts in the world now says the 12.9-inch iPad Pro will finally enter production this fall.
The iPad Pro might be exactly what Apple needs to reboot iPad sales, as a bigger tablet with updated software and better productivity apps that can take advantage of more screen real estate might become more attractive to some consumers who would otherwise prefer laptops over tablets. Such an iPad could be even more appealing to certain businesses looking to modernize their computer fleets.
Effectively, the iPad Pro could be turned into a MacBook killer, a product that would rival similarly sized MacBooks and other laptops. That’s assuming Apple and its partners can deliver on the software side. Even if it’s not on par with a Microsoft Surface tablet when it comes to advanced multitasking features, a slim and highly portable 12.9-inch iPad running iOS 9 might still be more useful for day-to-day work in some cases than a regular PC.
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in a note to investors seen by MacRumors that the 12.9-inch iPad Pro will enter mass production in September or October. While the often-accurate Kuo did not provide an actual launch date for the new tablet, the device might be released later in fall, assuming this production information is accurate.
The analyst also said the tablet will come with a Force Touch-enabled stylus accessory that will let users easily navigate the larger display on the tablet. Cheng Uei will make the pen, Kuo said, suggesting that Apple is finally ready to include a stylus with one of its iPad tablets, something that seemed unimaginable in the early days of the iPad.
Sketchy rumors said in the past that Apple is considering merging OS X and iOS in the future, to offer users a Surface-like computing experience. That’s likely not the case with this device, though. Apple has consistently denied plans of merging the two operating systems, saying that each OS and corresponding hardware has its place in its strategy.
But Apple has tried over the years to unify its ecosystem by making some OS X apps available on iOS and vice-versa, so that users can seamlessly switch between devices and continue their work. Additionally, Apple has also added various features in iOS aimed at improving tablet use, especially in iOS 9.
On top of improved software features, an iPad Pro might also deliver high-end specs that would make it a suitable device for work. Speedy performance, and solid battery life are to be expected from a flagship tablet like the iPad Pro. 9to5Mac mentions a specific hardware detail about the device retrieved from analytics logs — a Retina display (2732 × 2048 resolution) — that would put the iPad Pro on par with the iPad Air 2 in terms of pixel density. Comparatively, Apple’s MacBook Air models are yet to receive Retina displays.
Finally, the price might also play an important factor when it comes to killing laptops. The iPad Pro might be more affordable than a pricey MacBook, making it a more attractive choice for many buyers.
Regardless of whether the first-gen iPad Pro will actually help Apple kill laptops, including some of its own MacBooks, Kuo still sees the device as a relative success, saying Apple could sell some 5.5 million units this year, along with as many as 1 million styluses.