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Apple "Let Loose" Event Expectations

Screenshot of all of the Apple Logos for the

With Apple's "Let Loose" event in just a few days, it is time to post my predictions for what we will see. This event is happening at a significantly different time than most other Apple events. This one is at 7 am Pacific Time. This differs in that a majority of Apple's events take place at 10 am Pacific Time. Even though this is a different time than most, this is not the first time that Apple has held an event at a strange hour. In fact, Apple's "Scary Fast" event held on October 30th, 2023 was also at a non-standard time, 5 p.m. Pacific Time. So this is not unprecedented, but still a different time.

It is expected that this event will focus on iPads, and the invitation bears this out. The invitation clearly shows a hand holding an Apple Pencil. In addition, Apple's CEO Tim Cook posted "Pencil us in", in reference to the event. Beyond all of these subtle hints, it is time for new iPads. The last iPads released were announced more than 18 months ago, on October 18th, 2022, and released on October 26th. This is the first time since its introduction in January of 2007, and release in April of the same year, that Apple has gone an entire calendar year without announcing new iPad models. With that information out of the way, let us get to what I suspect we will see.

If you would like you can skip to the recap of what I expect.


iPad

9th Generation iPad

The current base model iPad, known as the 9th generation iPad, is the last iPad with a home button. A Home Button has been standard since the original iPad was introduced in 2010. With the release of the 2018 iPad Pro, Apple added Face ID and with the introduction of the 4th generation iPad Air in 2020 Apple began putting the Touch ID sensor in the top button, instead of having a dedicated button. With all of this, I suspect that the 9th generation will no longer be available from Apple, except for maybe education, and possibly only in certain regions.

The reason I suspect this is that while the 9th generation is popular, particularly amongst schools, I think Apple is keen on getting rid of the remaining home-button based iPad. Besides having the home button, it is the last iPad that still uses the lightning connector and the European Union has mandated that all smartphones, tablets, and digital cameras must have USB-C connectors by the end of 2024.

I think how this could handled one of two ways. Either they introduce a new model entirely that maintains the price point of the 9th generation iPad, or the current 10th generation has its price reduced to become the new base-model iPad.

The last possibility is that Apple does not update the 9th generation iPad yet, and instead waits until the iPhone event in the fall before updating the base model iPad.

One thing I could see Apple doing is a minor update to the 10th generation iPad to drop support for the 1st generation Apple Pencil and instead only support the Apple Pencil with USB-C.


iPad Air

5th Generation iPad Air

The 5th generation iPad was introduced in just over 2 years ago, in March of 2022. That model has an M1. I suspect that it will be updated, most likely with an M2 processor. I am not sure what other changes Apple could make, besides colors, and possibly changing the orientation of camera to be in landscape orientation, similar to the 10th generation iPad.

There are rumors that the iPad Air may now come in two sizes, 10.9 and 12.9, similar to the iPad Pro. This does make sense to do and it would be inline with other devices, like the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Air, and the 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pro.


iPad mini

6th Generation iPad mini

The iPad mini is not a device that gets updated all that often. In fact, the 6th generation iPad mini was released in September of 2021. This means it has been 2.5 years since it was last updated. It is definitely time for a refresh. The iPad mini is an interesting device given that its screen is 8.3 inches, hence the "mini" moniker. But what makes the device even more interesting is that it has a better processor than the 10th generation iPad, an A15 in the mini versus A14 in the 10th generation iPad.

It would not surprise me to see the iPad mini get updated with an M1 or even an M2 processor. It is also entirely possible that the iPad mini will not be updated until later in the year.


iPad Pro

6th Generation iPad Pro

The iPad Pro is likely to be the star of the event. This is the device that has had the largest number of rumors and also the most anticipated set of upgrades. Apple has positioned the iPad Pro as the most technologically advanced iPad. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro currently has a mini-LED display, but it is anticipated that the new iPad Pros will have an OLED display.

The other big change is likely to come with the placement of the camera. As mentioned in the iPad (no moniker) section, I suspect that the iPad Pro will also have the camera placed along the long edge of the iPad. This would bring it in line with the 10th-generation iPad and more usable for those using video

While there has been no rumors of this, but I think Apple might take the opportunity to have the 12.9-inch iPad start at a higher price, similar to how the iPhone 15 Pro Max starts at a higher price. The way that they did this was to have the higher-end model start with more base storage. I could see the same happening with the iPad Pro.

Colors

There is one thing that I would really like to see from the iPad Pro line and that is new colors. The original iPad Pro came in three, Silver, Space Gray, and Gold. The 9.7-inch iPad Pro came in one additional color, Pink. However, all other models have only come in two color options, Space Gray and Silver. I would like to see some new colors, preferably bright colors. Sure, keep the standards of Silver and Space Gray, but some new colors would be good, like maybe an Orange. People who opt for the iPad Pro do enjoy color options, and not just with the cases. I can understand not providing a lot of colors for the keyboard cases, but for the iPads would be a nice thing to have.

One thing not mentioned, thus far, is the chip that will power the iPad Pro.


Chips used in the iPads

With it being so long since Apple has released an iPad it is not easy to even begin to speculate how they might approach upgrades of the devices. It is reasonable to expect that each iPad model will see an upgrade to the next chip in its own line. For example, the 10th generation iPad has an A14 chip, so I would expect the upgraded version to have an A15. Similarly, the iPad Air currently has an M1, so I would expect this to be upgraded to an M2. The iPad Pro has an M2 now, so it would seem logical to have this upgraded to an M3, but that may not be the case.

There are rumors that none of the iPad will have an M3 chip, instead they will have an M4. This is borne out with model identifiers of iPad16,3, iPad16,4, iPad16,5, and iPad16,6. As explained by 9to5Mac, the 5th generation iPad Air and 5th generation iPad Pro had identifiers of iPad13,x, which both have M1 in them. This matched the Macs with an M1, which were all Mac13,x. Those devices with an M2 were iPad14,x and Mac14,x. From a 9to5Mac article:

According to the leaker, the new iPad Air will be powered by T8112, which is M2. However, the new iPad Pro has an unknown "T8132" chip. For instance, the M3 identifier is "T8122."

To add addition evidence, the manufacturing process used for the M3, M3 Pro, M3 Max, and A17 Pro was a one-off process that was significantly more expensive than the M2 line. So, it is possible that the line of iPads will have an entirely new chip, the M4.


Accessories

I expect that these new iPads will be accompanied by some new accessories. In particular, a new keyboard, and a new Apple Pencil.

Keyboards

Apple has long had accessories designed to go with the iPad. Currently Apple offers three different keyboard types for the iPads. These are the Smart Keyboard, Magic Keyboard Folio, and the Magic Keyboard. I expect that we will see updates to these that will work with the new iPads that are released. I suspect that these will be the same type of devices as the current iPads have.

Apple Pencil

The Apple Pencil was introduced with the iPad Pro in 2015. The first generation Apple Pencil allowed charging either via cable or directly in the lightning port on the iPad. This was not ideal, so when Apple introduced the 2nd generation Apple Pencil. The method of charging for the 2nd generation Apple Pencil changed to be charged directly from the side of the iPad. When you place the 2nd generation Apple Pencil on the iPad it also automatically pairs.

The rumors indicate that there will be a new 3rd generation Apple Pencil and that this one will work similar to the 2nd generation, but will also support a "squeeze" function, meaning that you can configure a function when you squeeze the Apple Pencil.

I think the 3rd generation Apple Pencil will replace the 2nd generation. However, it is also possible that the 3rd generation Apple Pencil will be more expensive than the 2nd generation, likely at $149.


My Predictions

  1. New iPad Pros with OLED displays, same sizes of 11-inch and 12.9-inch.
  2. New iPad Pros with storage starting 512GB, which will increase price.
  3. New iPad Pros will have an M4.
  4. New 11th generation iPad introduced.
  5. 10th Generation iPad becomes the new "base" iPad.
  6. 9th generation iPad is no longer in the line-up.
  7. New iPad Air in two sizes, 10.9 and 12.9.
  8. New Keyboards for the iPad Air and iPad Pro
  9. New 3rd generation Apple Pencil with squeeze gesture

Sometime after the Let Loose event on May 7th, I will provide a recap of what Apple actually announces at the event.

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