Apple Planning 10.5" iPad Pro in 2017, 'Revolutionary' OLED iPad as Soon as 2018
Noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has released a new research report outlining his expectations for the future of Apple's iPad lineup, predicting three new iPads ranging from 9.7 inches to 12.9 inches to be released in 2017.
According to Kuo, Apple is aiming to introduce a new 10.5-inch iPad Pro model next year to go along with a 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2 and a "low-cost" 9.7-inch iPad model. Kuo makes no mention about the fate of the current 7.9-inch iPad mini, although many have assumed that model may be phased out as the recent 5.5-inch iPhone "Plus" models have helped lessen demand for Apple's smallest tablet.
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 (2330 TT, NT$177.5, N) 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.
Looking even further ahead, Kuo predicts "revolutionary" changes for the iPad lineup for 2018 "at the earliest," with Apple making "radical" changes to the iPad's design and shifting to an AMOLED display.
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. We believe iPad will follow in the footsteps of the iPhone by adopting AMOLED panel in 2018F at the earliest. If Apple can truly tap the potential of a flexible AMOLED panel, we believe the new iPad model will offer new selling points through radical form factor design and user behavior changes, which could benefit shipments.
Kuo remains conservative in his predictions of iPad shipments, cutting his total 2016 shipment forecast from 45–50 million to 35–40 million due in large part to a lack of new models before the end of the year. Even with updated models in 2017, however, Kuo predicts shipments will continue to decline as part of general trends in the tablet market.