An image of an aluminium backplate for what looks like the rumoured, larger, iPad Prohas . Although details are unclear, not to mention incredibly sketchy, this looks like an aluminium mockup dummy unit, not an actual iPad part. The image was first spotted by NowhereElse.fr.
Unfortunately, the image does not show much more than an increased physical size (implying a larger display), as shown by the relative size of the Apple logo and camera hole. A cutout for the rear camera can be seen in the top-left corner, as is standard with current iPads. We should note that this would be very easily faked, so the validity of the picture is very much up in the air.
Rumours of an iPad Pro have been swirling for a while, although the news has died down in recent months. Most notably, the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple was testing iPads with significantly larger screens in July 2013. However, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reiterated that the 12.9 inch iPad was still in the pipeline, as part of KGI Research’s predictions for the rest of the year. Kuo said the big iPad is unlikely to come out in 2014, however.
The concept of an iPad Pro still seems comical to think about, but this latest image from Weibo only adds fuel to the fire that it might actually be a real thing. 9to5Mac has previously reported that Apple is working on a two-apps-at-one-time mode for the iPad, which would synergize well with a larger-screened iPad device.
Apple has “shelved” its plans to produce a larger-sized tablet, according to a report fromDigitimes. Nicknamed the “iPad Pro”, the 12.9-inch tablet was rumored to be under development with a launch date possible early next year.
Apple’s alleged move comes as these larger tablets face hurdles because the form factors are not compatible with the existing ecosystems, forcing manufacturers to scale back on their plans, claims Digitimes.
However, most of the large-size tablet projects face difficulties because of lack of support from related platform developers and ecosystems. Apple has also been said to shelved its large-size tablet project.
Mockup of a 12.9-inch iPad next to a 13-inch MacBook Air
It is unclear whether Apple having “shelved” the iPad Pro is a permanent move or if the company is simply taking a wait-and-see attitude with the project for the time being.
Rumors of the iPad Pro first surfaced last May with a claimed early 2014 launch timeframe, but while a number of other sources have weighed in with their own claims about the device including word that production on the device’s display had already begun, targets for the device’s launch have slipped over time. Most recently, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has frequently offered accurate information on Apple’s product plans, suggested last month that while the iPad Pro remained under development, its launch would likely not come this year.
As rumors of a larger iPad gained steam throughout the latter half of 2013, Samsung moved to introduce its own product with the launch of a 12.2-inch tablet early this year.
Digitimes has a mixed track record with its reporting, frequently obtaining accurate information from within Apple’s supply chain, but on occasion seeming to misinterpret that information.
As outlined in our feature highlighting Apple’s possible product plans for 2014, a number of rumors have suggested Apple may be working on a 12.9-inch iPad model that could launch later this year. The company is allegedly accelerating development on this device in response to Samsung’s introduction of two competing 12.2-inch tablet models, with market sources cited by Digitimes claiming that Apple is now prepping the so-called “iPad Pro” for a late Q3 2014 launch at the earliest.
The claim that Apple’s timeline is motivated by a perceived need to match Samsung’s recent introductions seems doubtful given that Apple has routinely taken its time coming to market even in the face of competitors rushing to beat Apple to its own rumored products, but at a minimum the claimed launch target offers one more data point for those trying to predict a release. Some sources have predicted a launch as soon as early this year but such a timeline seems very unlikely given the absence of part leaks and other substantiating evidence.
Earlier reports suggested the 12.9-inch iPad Pro could be a hybrid device that would appeal to enterprise customers looking for a machine that bridges the gap between tablet and notebook. Based on display panels currently under development in the supply chain, research firm DisplaySearch believes that the iPad Pro could ship with a 12.9-inch Retina display with a resolution of 2732 x 2048 and 265 ppi.
Besides the iPad Pro, Digitimes‘ sources unsurprisingly also claim Apple is working on new 7.9-inch and 9.7-inch models to replace the current Retina iPad mini and iPad Air. These models will likely debut in Q3 2014, keeping with Apple’s current late fall release schedule for the iPad. Demand for the iPad is expected to be strong again in 2014 with the company selling between 80 and 90 million units over the course of the year.