Apple is reportedly planning to release a trio of new iPads in 2017, including a new 10.5-inch iPad Pro and a "low-cost" 9.7-inch iPad. This is according to respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, whose latest predictions for the iPhone-maker were reported by MacRumors. Kuo also claims that "revolutionary" changes could be made to the iPad's design in 2018, with Apple perhaps integrating a flexible AMOLED display to offer "new selling points through radical form factor design and user behavior changes."
Here's Kuo on Apple's 2017 iPad lineup:
We expect three new iPads (12.9" iPad Pro 2, new size 10.5" iPad Pro & low-cost 9.7" iPad) to be launched in 2017, though this may not drive shipment growth amid structural headwinds; 2017F shipments to fall 10-20% YoY. If the iPad comes in a larger size, such as a 10.5" model, we believe it will be helpful to bid for tenders within the commercial and education markets.
As a result, we expect Apple to launch a 10.5" iPad Pro in 2017. In addition, we estimate the 12.9" iPad Pro 2 and 10.5" iPad Pro will adopt the A10X processor, with TSMC being the sole supplier using 10nm process technology. The low-cost 9.7" model may adopt the A9X processor, which is also exclusively supplied by TSMC.
A 10.5-inch iPad Pro model for "commercial and education markets" would certainly fit current trends for Apple's tablets. Last week, it was reported that while sales for the iPad were declining overall, demand is surging from businesses and government. "Apple is stronger in the enterprise market with its devices than it is with consumers," Forrester analyst Frank Gillet told The New York Times.
What's happening to the iPad mini?
It's worth noting that Kuo does not mention the 7.9-inch iPad mini in his report. It could be that the analyst does not have any solid predictions for the smaller iPad, but there's also the possibility that the mini will be phased out as demand in that size range shifts to the larger iPhone models.
As for 2018, Kuo says this could be a year of big changes for the iPad. "Revolutionary iPad model likely to be introduced in 2018F at the earliest, with radical changes in form factor design & user behavior on adoption of flexible AMOLED panel," he writes. The adoption of such technology would boost sales by offering "new selling points through radical form factor design and user behavior changes," says Kuo. We'll be waiting for more rumors on that score though, before we start looking out for an iPad with the curved display of a Samsung Galaxy Edge.