New iPad 2019 release date, price & specs rumours
Posted on August 16th, 2019
Wondering if Apple will update its budget iPad in 2019? You might not have long to wait as rumours about a 10.2in iPad ignite. We round up all the rumours about the next iPad's release date, new features, price and specs
By Karen Haslam MacWorld UK 16 Aug 19
Apple unveiled a pair of new iPads at a special event in March 2019, unexpectedly resurrecting the previously discontinued iPad Air with a brand new 10.5 model, and reviving the long neglected 7.9in iPad mini line. These are both fine tablets well worth our recommendation.
In the run up to that March event all the rumours pointed to a new 10.2in iPad - an update to the standard iPad 9.7in. Even TF Securities analyst Ming Chi Kuo (who's usually spot on) predicted back in February 2019: "Existing panel size of 9.7in iPad upgraded to 10.2".
When this new iPad didn't materialise everyone assumed that those rumours had been mistaken and the mysterious new iPad was in fact a new iPad Air, albeit, at 10.5in, a tad larger than expected.
But it looks like there may still be a 10.2in iPad in the works after all. And it could launch soon! And it could get a twin-lens camera!
In this article we will look at the rumours and mounting evidence that a new iPad will launch soon, predicting the design changes, new features, specs and price we should expect.
If you're more interested in the current range, read our iPad buying guide and our roundup of the best iPad deals.
The last iPad 9.7in was released over a year ago in March 2018, and is therefore overdue for an update.
Naysayers will suggest that when we saw the reintroduction of the iPad Air in March 2019 the iPad 9.7in's days were numbered. They will be predicting that Apple will eventually discontinue the standard iPad just as they did the MacBook in July 2019.
However, if you are a fan of the plain old iPad you have reason to hope. The rumours of a 10.2in model have re-surfaced with a report in the China Economic Daily News claiming that component manufacturer Ruiyi, who is involved in making the backlight used in the screens for the iPad (and MacBook Pro), has seen an increase in orders, with production of the new iPad ramping up in July.
There's also been a number of new iPad's registered with the Eurasian Economic Commission. Initially five new models were registered, which everyone took to be the new iPad Pro 2019 models (more here), but two new models have been registered with identifiers of A2200 and A2232, and these are thought to be the new 10.2in iPad.
With all this new evidence we have good reason to expect to see a new 10.2in iPad at the next Apple event (the iPhone launch in September 2019).
The iPad range pricing is currently as follows:
- 12.9in iPad Pro, from £969, buy here
- 11in iPad Pro, from £769, buy here
- 10.5in iPad Air, from £479, buy here
- 7.9in iPad mini, from £399, buy here
- 9.7in iPad, from £319, buy here
The standard iPad is currently the cheapest iPad model you can buy. Some might find that surprising, expecting the iPad mini to be cheaper, but it seems you pay more for the compact design.
We don't expect the price of the iPad to change, but it is feasible that it could increase to £399 and sell at a similar price to the iPad mini.
Alternatively, if the new 10.2in iPad has had a significant redesign, perhaps gaining Face ID and slimmer bezels it could switch places with the iPad Air, with a price increase while the Air sees a price drop. It depends on how Apple wants to position the new model.
Currently the Air is an altogether more upmarket tablet than the 9.7in iPad, which is the lowest-price tablet Apple sells; as we detail in our comparison review, it has a bigger (and laminated) screen, a much faster processor and more RAM, a much better front camera and support for the Pro-style Smart Keyboard. In consequence of these numerous advantages the Air costs £160/$170 more than the 9.7in (2018) at the entry level, albeit for twice as much storage.
But it occupies a very similar position in the range, offering a mid-size screen and plenty of power at an affordable price. This is where those naysayers will come in and suggest it's entirely possible that Apple considers its work done in this area for the time being and there won't be any changes to the iPad until 2020, and maybe never.
The rumours earlier in 2019 didn't give away much, other than the size of the new iPad: 10.2in.
We had heard that the frame would be narrower, but it's likely that rumour pointed to the iPad Air rather than a new iPad.
It does seem likely that Apple will shrink down the bezels around the screen a little to allow it to increase the size of the screen from 9.7in to 10.2in, as it did on the iPad Air (2019).
Will that mean the new iPad loses the Home button and ships with Face ID? We're not convinced. If Apple was to remove the Home button it would at a stroke make the Pro models less special and the iPad Air virtually obsolete.
We feel that Apple may wait little longer for a full-on revamp, with the iPad Pro not quite having enjoyed one year as the only Face ID-equipped iPad. Also, with the iPad sitting at the bottom of the range the addition of this premium feature may not come for some time.
We could see such more radical changes in 2020 though. By then the next iPad Pros are likely to have launched, bringing new flagship features and making it more feasible that their all-screen design can safely be spread to the rest of the range.
The rule here is that a new budget iPad must not show up any of the more expensive models in the range - so don't expect an OLED screen.
We'd certainly hope for a laminated screen, as on the iPad Air (but not on the iPad 9.7in) because this substantially improves the feel when pressing and tapping. Other features from the Air that we'd expect to roll out in the standard iPad: True Tone; an antireflective coating; and possibly support for the Smart Keyboard.
Previously we predicted that the new entry-level iPad would not get a twin-lens rear-facing camera, following the logic that the iPad Pro models haven't got this feature. But what if the Pros got triple-lens cameras?
Citing supply-chain sources, Macotakara has predicted that Apple is going to lavish multi-lens cameras across its tablet line-up. The source says that the next generation of iPad Pros will get the same triple-lens cameras as the iPhone 11, while the cheaper models will have to settle for twin lenses. Not bad!
Beyond this we're starting to get into the realm of Pro features, and quite aside from the cost implications Apple will be wary about diluting those devices' specialness. Compatibility with the second-gen Apple Pencil, for instance, was only added in the last generation and seems likely to remain exclusive for a while yet. (See Which iPads work with which Apple Pencils? for more information on this.)
With the arrival of Catalina and its 'Sidecar' features that mean you can use an iPad as a second screen for a Mac, or like you would a graphics tablet, the appeal of the iPad is going to grow.
We could see ProMotion, the Pro screen feature that allows for higher refresh rates while adjusting these on the fly for improved power consumption, but the rear camera flash seems more of a long shot.
It's too early to speak with any confidence about the spec sheet, but we can make a few general predictions.
If it comes out before autumn 2019, the new iPad will have an A12 processor, same as the iPad Air. If it comes out after that, the A13 will have become available and may be included, while keeping a souped-up A13X version of the chip free for the Pro line.
Apple isn't going to leave the front-facing camera at that sad 1.2Mp rating (and 720p video), which now looks particularly poor compared to the 7Mp (and 1080p) offerings on the iPad Air and Pro models. Selfies and FaceTime picture quality are both important on the iPad, and we'd expect at least 5Mp.
Bluetooth will be boosted to version 5, and eSIM will be supported.
Software and apps
There was some exciting iPad-related news at WWDC 2019: Apple's tablets are about to switch to their own dedicated operating system, called iPadOS.
This is evidently based on iOS 13, but has a number of distinct features and a significantly different interface.
Read our iPadOS explainer for more details.
As we mentioned above, the iPad will soon be able to be used as a second screen for a Mac. This new feature of Catalina is likely to widen the appeal of the iPad even more, and could well be reason why Apple will talk iPad at the event in September.