This Year’s Entry-Level iPad Will Feature a Thinner and Lighter Design

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Even though most of the iPad-related rumours we’ve heard circulating have been focused on Apple’s plans for its high-end iPad Pro, it stands to reason that the wallet-friendly entry-level iPad will also be getting yet another refresh this year, and now we’ve begun hearing reports as to exactly what that might look like.

According to Chinese supply chain sources speaking with Mac Otakara, the 9th-generation iPad will likely still retain its 10.2-inch display, but it’s expected to move even closer to the design of the third-generation iPad Air released in 2019, with a noticeable reduction in both thickness and weight.

At this point, the 8th-gen iPad that Apple released this past fall comes in at 7.5mm thick and weights 490 grams; by contrast, the third-generation iPad Air was 6.1mm deep and weighs in at 456g (for the Wi-Fi model). According to Mac Otakara’s sources, the next-gen iPad will get much closer to that, expecting to go down to 6.3mm and 460 grams.

Don’t Expect Too Many Changes

That said, however, the report suggests that not much else is going to change. The original 7th-generation 10.2-inch iPad released in late 2019 already gained the edge-mounted Smart Connector from the original iPad Pro models, which had come to the mid-tier iPad Air 3 a few months before, but it doesn’t look like it will be inheriting anything else from the iPad Air this time around.

For instance, it’s still expected to stick with a Lightning port, which could effectively leave it as the only new iPad model in Apple’s lineup to not make the switch to USB-C — although we still don’t know much about Apple’s plans for the iPad mini this year. Similarly, it will feature a Touch ID equipped home button, although it’s a bit less clear whether it will gain the laminated display that was featured on the older iPad Air, since Mac Otakara says its sourced indicate that it will “continue” to use “Full-Lamination Displays,” which have never previously been a feature of the entry-level iPad.

The Rest of the Lineup

If Mac Otakara’s supply chain sources are to be believed, this won’t be a big redesign year for the iPad family in general, as they also claim that no major changes are coming to the iPad Pro lineup other than a new A-series processor, which will likely be an A14X.

Of course, in this case the report could be talking partially about design changes, since we’ve heard some very reliable rumours that a whole new 12.9-inch iPad Pro is coming in the next few months with a Mini-LED display, however a change in the display doesn’t mean the overall appearance of the iPad Pro would change.

It’s also conceivable that Apple could be planning to release minor refreshes of both current iPad Pro models alongside a third, higher-end 12.9-inch iPad Pro that would feature the new Mini-LED displays, likely along with 5G support.

While the report says nothing about the iPad Air, it’s unclear if we’ll even see a new model of Apple’s mid-range tablet this year, since it’s traditionally been on a longer refresh cycle. It’s actually more likely that Apple is working instead on a sixth-generation iPad mini, which saw its last update almost two years ago. We’ve heard few solid reports of what that might entail, but it seems reasonable that like the early 2019 iPad Air and iPad mini, the smaller tablet will remain in the mid-range, taking its design cues from the new 11-inch iPad Air, which would mean an edge-to-edge display and a home button Touch ID sensor.

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