A pair of new industry reports out of Taiwan are claiming that Apple will release its first 5G-compatible iPhone and iPad Pro models sometime this fall.
At first, that may sound obvious. But the suggestion that the iPad Pro will be refreshed in the fall does appear to conflict with previous rumors that Apple will debut new models within the first half of the year. Here’s how to make sense of the new and old reports.
New 5G iPads in the Fall
The reports, published by DigiTimes, state that new iPhone and iPad Pro devices with 5nm-based A14 chipsets will debut in the second half of 2020. Those devices will also support both sub-6GHz 5G, as well as mmWave 5G.
As a quick refresher, sub-6GHz is generally slower but longer-range internet connectivity, while mmWave is much faster but only travels short distances. This year’s iPhones, and probably its iPad Pros, are rumored to support both.
It isn’t clear which 5G modems Apple will use for its iPad Pro, but DigiTimes adds that Qualcomm will supply Snapdragon X55 modems for this year’s flagship iPhones. (That’s likely to continue being the case for the foreseeable future, at least until Apple debuts a first-party solution or goes with another supplier.)
The interesting part of the reports is that DigiTimes predicts Apple will release 5G-compatible iPhones and iPad Pros in September. That would be an unusual move for Apple since iPad-related news typically comes in March or October and past rumors suggested that new iPad Pros could drop within the first half of the year.
Related to that is the fact that one of the DigiTimes reports claims that iPad Pros with a time-of-flight (ToF) laser camera are also likely to debut in the second half of the year.
Making Sense of the Timeline
Previous rumors suggested that refreshed iPad Pro models could come as soon as the first half of this year. While that seems to deviate from Apple’s usual October-based timeline, it would line up with the fact that iPad Pros have been updated on a rough 18-month timeline thus far.
The last iPad Pro update came about 18 months ago, in October 2018. But DigiTimes’ insistence that 5G iPad Pros aren’t coming until the second half of the year doesn’t line up with that timeline.
Further complicating things is a rumor that 5G connectivity would arrive on the iPad Pro before the iPhone. As we’ve previously mentioned, that isn’t entirely unprecedented — LTE compatibility arrived on iPads before iPhones back in 2012.
There are a couple of possibilities here. For one, DigiTimes could be wrong about the release schedule. For a publication with a relatively hit-or-miss track record, that wouldn’t be unheard of.
The other possibility is that new iPad Pro models with a ToF camera could debut this spring without 5G compatibility. Apple could then release updated models with a 5G modem later this year, perhaps during a September or October keynote.
That does seem unnecessarily clunky, however. So a safe bet may be to assume that new iPad Pros aren’t coming until the fall.