Although Apple packs some pretty amazing camera technology into its smartphones, the iPhone’s larger tablet cousin, the iPad, has lagged significantly behind; even the high-end 2018 iPad Pro continues to plod along with the same basic single 12-megapixel shooter years after Apple adopted its first dual-lens iPhone camera system with the iPhone 7 Plus back in 2016, and its other iPad models fare even worse when it comes to the camera.
A report back in August suggested that Apple may have finally started taking iPad photography more seriously, suggesting that the next-generation iPad Pro could in fact incorporate the same triple-lens camera system found on the iPhone 11 Pro. While many expected Apple to debut a new iPad Pro this past fall, that didn’t happen, and to be fair it looks like the iPad Pro may be on an 18-month release cycle, with predictions that it will come next spring instead. The last iPad Pro update came in the fall of 2018, however the prior 2017 models arrived in the spring of that year
However, the report, which came from supply chain sources, also suggested that the standard 10.2-inch standard iPad would incorporate an iPhone XS or iPhone 11-style dual-lens camera system, which of course we now know didn’t materialize.
While this casts some doubt on the overall veracity of the report, this particular prediction didn’t make a lot of sense anyway, since the 10.2-inch iPad is the entry-level model, and it seems odd that Apple would leapfrog the mid-range iPad Air (and iPad mini) by offering better camera capabilities in the much less expensive version. It seems more likely that the sources for the report may have confused the upcoming 10.2-inch iPad with a refresh for the 10.5-inch iPad Air that could also be in the works for next spring, where an iPhone 11 dual-lens system would make some sense alongside an iPhone Pro triple-lens system on the iPad Pro.
Here’s What It Might Look Like
It seems there may be something to all of this, however, with new renders surfacing late last week claiming to be of both 2020 iPad Pro models — the 11-inch and 12.9-inch — both clearly showing a triple-lens camera design that looks virtually identical to what’s found on the iPhone 11 Pro.
The leaks come from a pretty reliable source, too: Steve Hemmerstoffer, who goes by the Twitter name of Steve H. McFly (aka OnLeaks) is the same guy who correctly nailed the iPhone 11 Pro camera design back in January, at a time when we’d only heard vague rumours about a triple-lens system even coming at all.
In addition to clearly showing the new — and already somewhat iconic — triple-lens camera bump, the renders also reveal a few other interesting facts, suggesting that Apple will keep the design mostly the same, although it looks like the larger 12.9-inch iPad Pro could get a glass back panel like the iPhone 11 Pro, while the 11-inch model would retain the same metal back design.
Retaining the same overall design isn’t particularly surprising, considering that not only did Apple only adopt it in last year’s 2018 iPad Pro models, but we’ve heard multiple reports that Apple is going in the same design direction with the 2020 iPhone, which will see a return to more squared-off edges, akin to the iPhone 4 and iPhone 5 era.
Hemmerstoffer has shared a full set of images, including a 360° video, on iGeeksBlog.
A Major Camera Upgrade
Up until now, Apple hasn’t really taken the camera all that seriously on any of its iPad models, with the 2018 iPad Pro getting very few camera improvements over the 2017 iPad Pro, and actually losing features like optical image stabilization. Further, while the iPad Pro gets a 12-megapixel sensor, Apple’s lower-end iPads fare worse, with only an 8-megapixel camera found on the mid-range iPad Air and entry-level 10.2-inch iPad.
So while the camera system on the iPhone has evolved more gradually, this would be a huge leap for the iPad Pro, which would bring it up to the same capabilities of its iPhone. While the iPad isn’t necessarily the most ideal device for photography compared to the iPhone, a lot of people still use it for that purpose, and of course there are lots of other applications such as augmented reality that could seriously benefit from a better camera system.