Kuo expects to see three new iPads emerging in 2017. The first will be a refresh to the existing flagship 12.9-inch iPad Pro and may be called the 12.9-inch “iPad Pro 2.” The second will be a new, low-cost 9.7-inch iPad that will likely replace the iPad Air 2 launched in October 2014.
Apple is in a predicament in the 9.7-inch tablet market right now, as it currently offers the iPad Air 2 for a base price of $399 (16GB Wi-Fi only) while also offering the 9.7-inch iPad Pro for a base price of $599 (32GB Wi-Fi only). Based on Kuo’s “low-cost” prediction, it’s possible that the company may demote its future 9.7-inch device to “non-Pro” status and position the new 10.5-inch and refreshed 12.9-inch model as new “iPad Pro 2” units. Alternatively, the other option is that Apple will offer both a standard 9.7-inch model with new 10nm A10 SoC along with a refreshed 9.7-inch iPad Pro with new 10nm A10X chip, but this has yet to be confirmed.
Apple’s first generation iPad Pro was originally launched with a 12.9-inch display size in November 2015 and a $799 USD base price (32GB Wi-Fi only), followed by a 9.7-inch model in March 2016 for $599. Both devices use Apple’s custom 16nm A9X SoC developed by TSMC with 1.8 times more CPU performance and two times more GPU performance as its 2014 predecessor, the Apple A8X.
35 to 40 million iPads expected to ship this year
The reputable Apple analyst has also downgraded his iPad shipment forecast for the remainder of the year from 45 to 50 million units down to 35 to 40 million units. He says the conservative forecast revision reflects a lack of Apple releasing any new models before the end of the year, along with other general trends in the tablet market.
“Revolutionary” iPad refresh expected in 2018
Kuo’s notes further claim that Apple may launch a more groundbreaking refresh of its iPad lineup in 2018 at the earliest, suggesting the possibility of a flexible AMOLED display panel along with other noteworthy form factor changes.
Highlights from Kuo’s notes can be found here.