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In an unusual turn of events, it looks like Apple may actually have its flashy new 12.9-inch iPad Pro out before the smaller 11-inch model — although perhaps only by a day.
This is the opposite of what previous rumours had suggested, which was that the 12.9-inch iPad Pro could be delayed further into the spring due to component shortages related to the newer Retina Display XDR mini-LED screens.
At the time, it was presumed that Apple would announce both of its 2021 iPad Pro models together during the April Spring Loaded event, with only the 11-inch version going on sale right away, since it was still slated to use the older and more established Liquid Retina LCD technology.
Instead, however, Apple surprised us by not only announcing both models together, but pushing their availability back to “the second half of May,” with preorders set to open Friday, April 30.
It’s unclear whether this decision was made due to supply constraints or simply a matter of Apple wanting to release them both together, but now it appears that we have a more specific date in the second half of May, thanks to leaker Jon Prosser.
May 21 and May 22
In a recent Tweet, Prosser cites his sources as saying that the 12.9-inch iPad Pro will actually release on May 21, with the 11-inch model coming one day later, on May 22.
Prosser concedes this is “kinda weird,” and we’d tend to agree. Not just that the larger iPad is coming first, but that they’re only going to be separated by a single day.
On the one hand, we can sort of see Apple leading with its new flagship iPad Pro — the one with the incredible new XDR display — before its 11-inch model, which would certainly seem more pedestrian in comparison.
To be fair, however, the 11-inch is no slouch either, as the only difference between the two models (other than the size, of course), is the new Liquid Retina XDR display. Both models are otherwise gaining the same M1 chip, along with 5G capabilities, a Thunderbolt/USB 4 port, faster storage, studio quality mics, the improved TrueDepth camera with Center Stage support, and memory configurations that now top out at 2TB.
While Prosser’s information isn’t always accurate, he has a fairly solid track record when it comes to actual product release dates. He accurately predicted the release dates of last year’s second-generation iPhone SE, 13-inch MacBook Pro refresh, and 2020 iMac, along with a September event to launch the new Apple Watch and iPad Air.
Still, what makes this one even more peculiar is the fact that May 22 is a Saturday, which is a day on which Apple almost never releases new products. In fact, the last time we can remember a Saturday release was on April 3, 2010 — the date the very first iPad came out — but it’s also worth noting that April 2 was Good Friday that year, which is a public holiday in about a dozen U.S. states, many of which were home to Apple Stores even back then.
However, at this point, we’d still say the May 22 date is highly implausible. It seems more reasonable that both iPad Pro models will go on sale on the same day, although in that sense, May 21 does seem about right.
Regardless, preorders are still expected to open this Friday, April 30, so we suspect for most folks it’s going to be more of a question of when UPS or FedEx will deliver their new iPad Pro, rather than when it will appear in stores.