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New iPad Air & iPad Pro models are coming soon - what to expect

iPads are expected at Apple's next event

Apple is holding a special event on May 7 that will most likely focus on new models of the iPad Air and iPad Pro. Here's what to expect from the "Let Loose" event.

Apple has not made a meaningful update to the iPad lineup since October 2022, with the exception of an Apple Pencil update in November 2023. That's a very long time for an entire product category to go without updates, especially for the iPad lineup.

On April 23, Apple revealed it will be holding a special event on May 7, which the company subtitled as "Let loose." It also directly hinted as to what the event will be about, with a series of stylized Apple logos incorporating a hand using an Apple Pencil.

Apple is not known to be this direct in its event alert graphics. It usually offers far more subtle clues that gives a minimal hint about an event's topics.

With Apple's clue in mind, this is what you could expect to see during the event based on months of rumors.

New iPad Pro

The biggest change expected for the iPad Pro lineup is the switch over to OLED displays. The change offers a variety of benefits, including the lack of a backlight providing true blacks, more vivid colors, and power savings versus LCD equivalents.

A collection of iPad Pros
A collection of iPad Pros

At the same time, there were originally expectations of a shift over to the M3 chip, following a progression from previous models. The 3-nanometer chip will provide more performance and efficiency over the M2 and M1.

And as of late, there have been rumors about the device getting the as-yet unannounced M4 chip. Should these be true, it would be the shortest cycle between generations of Apple Silicon M-series chips yet.

There have also been claims that Apple could offer a matte option for the display, providing an anti-glare coating to the tablet line for the first time.

However, there have also been murmurs that the new models could get a price increase to match the upgrades, potentially starting the lineup at around $1,500.

New iPad Air

In November, the iPad Air was rumored to arrive in two sizes, with a 10.9-inch model accompanied by a 12.9-inch version, mirroring the iPad Pro lineup.

iPad Air 5
iPad Air 5

However, rather than getting the update to OLED like the iPad Pro, it was believed that the displays would instead have the current LED-based backlighting.

A more recent April rumor offers that there may well still be a display technology upgrade. One rumor said the 12.9-inch iPad Air could use the same display panels as the existing mini-LED backlighting of the current-gen 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

However, an April 24 rumor from Ross Young, known for his display supply chain reporting, says the mini LED display on the 12.9-inch iPad Air isn't on the way for the event. Instead, the improved display could arrive later in 2024.

The bigger screen may also be quite expensive for consumers too, as a change in size has always been accompanied by a price increase. It'll be cheaper than the Pro equivalent, but probably not as much as people want.

If the iPad Air does get this display, it further distances it from the 10th generation iPad in the product lineup.

There have also been claims that the new iPad Air could get a new landscape FaceTime camera. One that could be better used in a landscape orientation than in portrait.

New Apple Pencil

The next Apple Pencil, which is often referred to as the Apple Pencil 3 despite potentially being the fourth release is also expected.

The USB-C Apple Pencil
The USB-C Apple Pencil

The main rumor is a new squeeze gesture, including detecting long and short squeezes and multiple squeezes to trigger different actions.

There is also the belief that Apple could incorporate interchangeable tips in the Apple Pencil. In theory, this could change how the Apple Pencil feels to when the user draws on the display, or perhaps how the device interfaces with drawing apps.

There have also been suggestions of adding Find My functionality, though that seems less likely than the other rumors surrounding the device.

New Magic Keyboard for iPad

The Magic Keyboard is already an impressive accessory for the iPad Pro, but it could be made to become even more useful.

Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro
Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro

Rumors from back in September, which have persisted over the months, anticipate an overhaul in the accessory's design. Primary among the rumors are that the top case area around the keyboard could use aluminum, making it look more like a MacBook.

The change can also go beyond aesthetics, with alterations making the accessory stronger and sturdier. There has also been a hint in rumors that the trackpad could be made larger.

Maybe: USB-C peripherals

After failing to arrive in October, rumors in December claimed that Apple will be bringing out versions of its accessories that continues the company's shift away from Lightning in favor of USB-C.

This list included the Apple Magic Mouse, Magic Keyboard, and Trackpad, with a Spring 2024 launch date expected for the collection.

The key here is that, while they are chiefly Mac peripherals, adding USB-C support makes it a bit easier to attach each to an iPad or iPad Pro. This could make the iPad Pro more of a desk-based workstation for users who prefer to work that way.

Also rans: Macs, iPad, iPad Mini, folding iPad

While not as show-stopping as the iPad Pro and Air updates, Apple does regularly make updates to the base-model iPad, and sometimes to the iPad mini too. However, such updates are typically more low-key and tend to include smaller changes or specification bumps.

A rumor from October claimed that the iPad mini 7 would get only a minimal spec-bump upgrade from the iPad mini 6. This could consist of an update from the A15 Bionic chip to a newer variant, but with no real other alterations.

This does seem plausible if Apple does update the iPad mini, and a similar change could also happen to the iPad. However there are relatively few rumors about the models at all, meaning that there's a chance they won't make it into the event.

The rumor mill also agrees, with proposals that the iPad and iPad mini may not be updated until later in 2024.

There have also been rumors of a potential folding iPad, which has been long in development but has yet to make it to production. There have been claims of a folding iPad launch, but given the claims of 2025 or 2026, that makes it a bit doubtful.

The event is expected to be about the same length as the Halloween MacBook Pro event in 2023. Mac releases are not expected at the event.