It looks like we may see an interesting new slate of iPads this fall, based on more recent regulatory filings. Although it would seem that Apple has already released some mid-range iPad models, there are undoubtedly new iPad Pros still to come, and there’s also been some debate about what the company’s plans are for its lower-cost entry-level iPad.
Earlier this month, we saw five new models appear in the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) database, all listed as running iPadOS 13, making it fairly clear that they’re coming this fall. Now the same Indian blog, MySmartPrice, that ferreted out the earlier five filings has found two more new entries, bringing the total number of potential iPad models up to seven.
Filings in the EEC database often provide some useful clues as to what Apple is up to, usually appearing several weeks prior to a new product release, since Apple is legally required to make these registrations for any devices that use encryption that will be sold in certain Eurasian countries.
Although the bulk of these identifiers likely refer to new iPad Pro models — two sizes, combined with both Wi-Fi only and cellular models would account for at least four entries by themselves, if not more — there have also been enough reports suggesting that Apple is working on an updated version of its entry-level iPad with a larger 10.2-inch screen to lead us to believe that two of these model numbers could be referring to this model, and in fact perhaps these are the two new model numbers that have just been discovered.
It’s worth keeping in mind as well, however, that Apple frequently has multiple model numbers of its iPads for the different cellular technologies around the world. For example, the current 12.9-inch iPad Pro is available in four models already — one for the Wi-Fi only version, and three for the Wi-Fi + Cellular models. The same is also true for the 11-inch iPad Pro and third-generation iPad Air, although the sixth-generation iPad only has a single model for its cellular version. So as things currently stand, the current full-sized iPad lineup — iPad Pro, iPad Air 3, and 6th-gen iPad — already account for 14 model numbers.
New iPad Pros
It’s pretty much a given that we’re going to see new iPad Pros arrive this year, although we’ve heard very little about them. Reliable analysts have simply said that two new models will be going into mass production in the fourth quarter of 2019 or the first quarter of 2020, and there are also suggestions that Apple will improve the cellular performance on this year’s models, and it’s also worth considering that new antennas might mean that fewer distinct cellular models are needed.
To be clear, Apple’s “first quarter” of a fiscal year actually covers the last three months of the previous year — October to December. To Q4 2019 or Q1 2020 actually places the timeline for the iPad Pro to go into production sometime in the second half of this year — as soon as next month, in fact.
That said, the lack of any solid reports about the new iPad Pro models strongly suggests that we’ll see an iterative update this time around — probably mostly a spec bump — although as with its iPhone lineup, Apple appears to have much bigger iPad plans for 2020.
A 7th-Generation iPad
What’s actually been missed this year is the debut of a new low-cost standard iPad model. This has kind of flown under the radar due to Apple’s decision to release a fifth-generation iPad mini and a new 10.5-inch iPad Air earlier this year, during the time period that would have otherwise heralded the new standard iPad model.
Some have suggested that this latest generation of iPad Air is now Apple’s “standard” entry-level iPad. This is understandable considering how Apple has mixed up its iPad product naming over the years — four generations of “iPad” were followed by two successors named “iPad Air” before the company subsequently released two more standard “iPad” models. Since each of these models was still a successor to the one before, that means that technically speaking, the 2017 iPad was actually a seventh-generation model, but Apple called it the fifth-generation simply because it was the fifth device to bear the name “iPad” so it’s a reasonable assumption that the third-generation iPad Air could actually, in principle, be the “ninth-generation iPad” and that iPad and iPad Air are really all part of the same lineup.
However, that seems unlikely in this case. The two earlier iPad Air models were direct upgrades to the prior iPads, sold at the same price points. The newest iPad Air, on the other hand, includes many of the specs of the earlier 10.5-inch iPad Pro, and has a higher price to match. This suggests that this model is intended to be a midrange iPad, and although Apple has been pushing its iPhones into the pricing stratosphere, the use of the iPad in business and education makes it extremely unlikely that the company will abandon its much lower-cost entry-level model of iPad.
Apple has traditionally releases its new iPads in October, since the company prefers to focus on its newest iPhone models during its annual September event.