Now that 2016 is behind us the big question that still remains, is what are Apple's plans for its iPad lineup in 2017. It is no secret that overall tablet sales are in a slump, but Apple CEO Tim Cook has said several times in the past, that he is confident customers are still interested in the iPad. However, it is obvious from Apple's new erratic release schedule that the company's priorities do not lie with the once mighty tablet anymore. Apple has not released a new model since March 31, 2016, and the rumor mill has been pretty quiet about the release of any next-generation iPad models.
The rumored 10-inch iPad that Apple allegedly plans to release in early 2017 will feature a "micro-bezel," according to the Japanese site Makotakara. Citing an "informed" supply-chain source in Taiwan, Makotakara ((via 9to5Mac) claims that the larger screen size of Apple's 10-inch tablet will be "offset by smaller bezels. " This will give the 10-inch model the "same footprint as the current 9.7-inch iPad Pro," according to 9to5Mac.
The top bezel with front-facing FaceTime camera will remain, but the Home button will be removed to reduce the size of the lower bezel. If true, this means we could see Apple's rumored digital Home button sooner than we thought. The new display embedded Home button was expected to make its debut on the next-generation iPhone before coming to the iPad.
Yesterday inside sources told the Japanese blog Mac Otakara that Apple plans to release 3 iPad models in 2017, and today the Chinese social network Weibo posted alleged benchmark scores for the rumored A10X chips that will power all 3 tablets. All iPad models ship with a more powerful version of Apple's latest processor. For example, the iPhone 6s is equipped with an A9 chip, and the current iPad Pro model is powered buy the faster A9X.
Now that the iPhone 7 has been available for a couple of weeks focus has switched to Apple's next-generation tablets, and today the first major iPad rumor was published by Japanese blog Mac Otakara (via Mac Rumors). Citing "reliable sources," Mac Otakara claims Apple will release three new iPad Pro models in Spring 2017. These will include a new 7.9-inch iPad mini model, a new 9.7-inch iPad Pro model and a new 12.9-inch model.
As we've noted before, there hasn't been much talk about the next-generation iPad Pro 2. It is possible that Apple doesn't plan to release a new 12.9-inch tablet in 2016, or any more iPad models this year, and noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo agrees with us. MacRumors posted a new research report by Kuo, who believes Apple is planning to release three new iPad models in 2017.
"Upstream component makers have seen weaker-than-expected orders for tablet and wearable products" even though the second-generation Apple Watch is expected to be unveiled in September or October, according to DigiTimes. Component suppliers are struggling to gain sufficient profits from the smartwatch market, even with the Apple Watch, which dominates the wearables market by nearly 50 percent.
"A lack of applications and short battery life have prevented smartwatches from becoming a mainstream product. The smartwatch market, expected to stay small, is unlikely to become a growth driver for component makers as originally expected."
While most of the world has their sights set on the iPhone 7, AppleInsider has published the first images of an alleged iPad Pro 2. The photos were sent by a "worker in Apple's Asian supply chain," according to the report. The images reveal the model number MH1C2CD/F, which has not been assigned to any other known iPad models. Model numbers can also easily be faked, and AppleInsider has not confirmed the authenticity of the leaked images.
Back in January the DigiTimes reported the next-generation 9.7-inch iPad would ship with 4K resolution, and today unnamed sources told 9to5Mac that the rumored 9.7-inch iPad Pro would be capabable of recording 4K video. The Apple blog also noted that the new iPad Pro would include a rear-facing 12MP iSight camera. This would be an improvement over the 8MP iSight camera found on the current 12.9-inch iPad Pro model and iPad Air 2.
It has all been but officially confirmed that Apple plans to release a new 9.7-inch iPad to replace the iPad Air 2, but what's not certain is the name of the rumored device or release date. It was previsouly reported that Apple would announce a new 4-inch iPhone and iPad model on March 15th, but John Paczkowski of Buzzfeed now claims the event has been pushed back to March 21st.