Several new iPad models have reportedly been spotted around the Bay Area, lending credence to earlier rumors of a spring model refresh.
On Monday, TechCrunch reported several new iPad models have been spotted in Cupertino and other Bay Area locations, according to information from mobile marketing firm Fiksu. This seems to support longstanding rumors regarding Apple’s plans to launch a trio of new iPad models in spring 2017. Apple has not officially commented on the rumors or announced any iPad event, though Macworld U.K. notes Apple tends to make its spring announcements on Mondays, with a 10-day lead time for press invitations. At this point, any Apple Spring Event would take place in late March or April.
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who boasts a consistently strong track record in predicting Apple launches and product plans, issued a note to investors back in January. That note indicated Apple planned to update the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, introduce a new model with a screen size somewhere between 10 and 10.5 inches, and debut a low-priced 9.7 inch version of the tablet in spring 2017. The iPad Mini isn’t likely to see a tweak in this refresh cycle, a possible hint the diminutive form factor is being phased out in favor of higher-end “Pro” models, which can command a premium price. The Mini hasn’t seen an update since September 2015.
According to AppleInsider, The 12.9-inch and 10-inch iPad Pro models are expected to feature a tweaked version of the A10 chip found in the iPhone 7, dubbed an A10X. Meanwhile, the budget-priced 9.7-inch model is expected to feature a Samsung-made version of the A9 chip found in the iPhone 6s. AppleInsider also notes Kuo expects the 9.7-inch model to be the biggest seller, representing “between 50 and 60 percent of total shipments.”
There’s more hanging on the launch of this particular iteration than the iPad than in previous years, as sales of the tablet have dropped considerably. In January, Recode reported year-over-year sales for the fourth quarter of 2016 were down roughly 20 percent. Apple sold 13.3 million iPads in the prior quarter, equivalent to $5.5 billion in revenue. That might sound impressive, but it actually represents about a 19 percent drop in unit sales and a 22 percent drop in revenue compared to Q4 2015.
What features would the new iPad need to include to make you consider picking up a new one? Do you think Apple plans to phase out the iPad Mini? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!