We’re literally weeks away from witnessing Apple showcase its all-new 2018 iPhones, Apple Watches, Macs, accessories, and iPad Pros. And, as we suspected, the rumor mill is showing no signs of slowing down, with all the last-minute leaks and discoveries pouring in and hinting at what we can expect to see on the morning of September 12.
Based on a swath of previous reports, we know that among the myriad of new products Apple will unveil are two new iPad Pro models. Both of which (10.5 or 11- and 12.9-inch variants) are expected to feature a major redesign — boasting iPhone X-inspired aesthetics like edge-to-edge displays, no hardware Home buttons and TrueDepth camera systems with Face ID replacing Touch ID.
On Friday, leaked images of an alleged protective casing for the upcoming 10.5 or 11 inch iPad Pro model were published by leak aggregation website, Slashleaks.
Interestingly, while the case’s overall design coincides with the rumored design changes expected of Apple’s 2018 iPad Pro, at least one new orifice cut into it is raising more questions than answers.
Specifically, as you can see in the image above, the alleged 2018 iPad Pro case reveals a new pill-shaped cut-out located just above the Lightning port towards the bottom, rear-side of the chassis.
While the cut-out’s presence is enough to pique our curiosity, it’s worth noting that according to a previous Mac Otokara report, the bizarre new orifice could possibly be where Apple is planning to relocate its Smart Connector port on the redesigned iPad Pro models.
Adding fuel to the speculation is the following Tweet, which was posted by well-known mobile device leaker, Steve Hemmerstoffer, a few weeks ago. In it, the leakster presents a CAD render allegedly depicting Apple’s new 11-inch iPad Pro with a similar, mysterious pill-shaped indentation just above the rear Lightning port.
Just got my hands on a purported 2018 iPad Pro CAD showing a unknown thing located on the back of the tablet… NB: I can't confirm the accuracy of that CAD I share for discussion purposes only because of that weird and yet unexplained detail… 😉 pic.twitter.com/9R7jeLDfLV
— Steve H. (@OnLeaks) July 30, 2018
Curiously, the cut-out present in today’s leak looks nearly identical to the oblong-shaped impression flaunted in Hemmerstoffer’s CAD render.
Perhaps even more curiously, is that the case appears to be still equipped with a horizontal cut-out — albeit on the opposite side, below the iPad’s volume rocker — where Apple’s current iPad Pro Smart Connector port goes.
According to several previous reports, including the original 2018 iPad Pro revelation by Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, Apple may have decided to relocate the Smart Connector on its upcoming iPads to allow for easier authentication and unlocking of the tablet via Face ID, which, at present, works only in a horizontal orientation.
Of course, if Apple did relocate the Smart Connector on its upcoming iPad Pros, the move would require the company to design and build a whole new vertically-oriented Smart Keyboard accessory — although it’s not even clear how a keyboard in that orientation would work, seeing as how it’d place the tablet in an unstable position.
At the same time, the sheer existence of the other, Smart Connector-style cut-out on the side of the case raises obvious questions over whether the new pill-shaped cut-out is actually a new Smart Connector port — or if it’s there to accommodate something else, entirely?
Some theories are that the oblong cut-out could alternatively be a “magnetic alignment” for a new type of keyboard or Smart accessory. It could, but more than likely won’t, be a connection for wireless charging support. Most unlikely of all, that Apple relocated Touch ID to the rear of the iPad.
We won’t know for sure, unfortunately, until Apple’s big event. But, luckily, that’s right around there corner now. Be sure to check back with us for updates and full coverage of Apple’s September 12 event.