Apple’s Most Affordable iPad Rumored to Gain 5G, Retina Display, and USB-C

The entry-level iPad will get some significant upgrades this year.
person plugging USB C cable into iPad Credit: waller66 / Shutterstock
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Although Apple isn’t expected to ditch the iPhone’s Lightning port until at least next year, a new report suggests that the final iPad model may be about to make the move to USB-C this fall.

It shouldn’t come as a big surprise that Apple has a new, tenth-generation iPad in the works; the entry-level model has been refreshed annually since its return in 2017, and September releases have become the norm since 2019.

However, what’s slightly more unexpected is that Apple may be ready this year to finally eliminate the last Lightning port from its iPad family.

According to an exclusive report from 9to5Mac, the entry-level iPad will get some more significant upgrades this year, the biggest of which could be the move to USB-C.

Sources also suggest that the new model will move to the A14 Bionic chip, although that’s pretty much what we’d have expected. After three years of leaving the basic iPad behind on the A9 and A10 chips, Apple leaped forward to an A12 chip in the 2020 model and then the A13 in last year’s 9th generation iPad. It’s pretty clear Apple has decided the entry-level iPad should stay in step with the rest of the family, so moving to the A14 Bionic is the next logical step.

What’s slightly more interesting is that Apple is also planning to bring 5G to the Wi-Fi + Cellular model of the 10th-generation iPad. Of course, 5G is table stakes at this point, especially after this year’s release of a new 5G-capable iPhone SE. Still, this would make the $329 iPad the most inexpensive 5G device in Apple’s product lineup.

Rumour has it that the new iPad will also get a Retina display with the same resolution as the current iPad Air. This suggests that we could see an increase in screen size, although don’t hold your breath for higher-end display features like a wide color gamut or higher brightness. Apple has to save some things for its more expensive iPad models.

The one thing that 9to5Mac’s sources haven’t been able to say is whether the next iPad is getting a new design to go along with these other changes. The switch to USB-C and display changes undoubtedly hint at a more modern iPad Air-style design, but that’s by no means a sure thing.

Still, the traditional iPad design is starting to feel a bit dated, making the entry-level iPad the odd one out. Apple’s other iPad models have moved to the new flat-edged design at the same time they’ve adopted USB-C — the iPad Pro in 2018, the iPad Air in 2020, and the iPad mini in 2021 — so this would be a perfect opportunity for Apple to unify the design of its entire tablet lineup.

Such a design change would also be a boon for accessory compatibility. The basic iPad isn’t just odd in its looks; Apple also needs to keep offering versions of the Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil that are compatible with the older design. Adopting the iPad Air’s style would allow the Magic Keyboard and second-generation Apple Pencil to be used across the entire iPad lineup.

[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]

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