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The iPad Pro is official, and so is the new Apple Pencil stylus and keyboard

13 inch ipad pro launch delayed mini with retina back top angle 1500x1000
Image used with permission by copyright holder
Back in August 2014, rumors of a huge, 12.9-inch iPad Pro popped up on the Internet. Initially, reports pegged the larger iPad at nearly 13 inches and claimed it would arrive in 2015. Apple finally showed off the massive iPad Pro at its September 9 event in San Francisco. Here’s everything we know about the device ahead of its official launch.

The iPad Pro’s 12.9-inch screen has a resolution of 2,732 x 2,048 pixels, which is the highest resolution on any iPad. The large tablet is surprisingly thin and light at 6.9mm thin and 1.57  pounds. It’s powered by an A9X processor and comes with either 32 or 128GB of storage, depending on the model you choose.

You can also get a keyboard cover and the Apple Pencil stylus as accessories for the iPad Pro.

All the rumors ahead of the iPad pro launch

It could launch on September 9

On the evening before the September 9 Apple event, Apple commentator John Gruber stated that, “the consensus is that there’s only going to be one Apple event this fall, and it’s [September 9]. So if there’s an iPad Pro, it’s coming [September 9].” Digital Trends will be reporting live from the event, so stay tuned for all the official announcements.

A 9to5Mac report hints at a $800 price tag for the entry-level iPad Pro with 32GB of storage. The 64GB model will cost $900 and the 128GB version will be prices at $1,000. An LTE-enabled model will also arrive, maxing out at a $1129 price tag, which is as much as some MacBooks.

Although 9to5Mac says it’ll likely debut at the September 9 event, the publication’s sources say the iPad Pro won’t ship until November. Preorders should kick off in October, but it sounds as though supply chain problems will limit the number of iPads available.

9to5Mac also hinted that the price tag could end up being very steep, as the keyboard and stylus accessories will be sold separately. As such, you can expect the iPad Pro to cost about $1,000 all told. A rose gold color option is likely, too.

The price tag could be steep when you add the keyboard and stylus accessories to the mix.

The latest report from Apple Insider cites J.P. Morgan analysts as saying that special touchscreen components for the iPad Pro will arrive in September. The analysts also hinted that things should be on track for an October launch, which would be in line with Apple’s traditions.

Well-placed 9to5Mac sources indicate that Apple will debut the new iPad on September 9, the same day the company’s expected to unveil a new Apple TV, iPhone 6 and 6S, and a revamped iPad mini. October’s purportedly pegged for the preorder period, with retail availability to follow in November.

DigiTimes report places the iPad Pro’s production on track for a mid-November launch, as mass production will kick off in September or October. The site’s sources estimate that 4 million to 5 million iPad Pro tablets will be shipped in 2015, after it launches in the fourth quarter.

Shortly before the DigiTimes report came to light, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo mentioned a similar production schedule and launch time frame for the larger iPad. Although a November launch would be later than most iPad launches, it would still be in time for holiday shopping.

In contrast, a recent article by BuzzFeed News mentioned a possible Sept. 9 launch date for new iPads, as well as the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. The publication cited sources familiar with Apple’s plans, but added that the larger iPad is still a “wildcard.”

In mid-July, DigiTimes cited supply chain sources who claim the iPad Pro won’t go into production until the end of September 2015, and may launch as late as mid-November 2015. Foxconn will reportedly produce the components for the larger iPad, and Apple’s orders are said to be conservative. iPad sales have been declining in recent years, so it’s possible that Apple is hedging its bets with the alleged 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

The news of its delay first came from analyst Kuo, who often has his finger on the pulse of Apple’s supply chains. Kuo said that new components and supply constraints have pushed production behind schedule. He did not say when the larger iPad will launch.

Japanese publication Mac Fan had pinned the 12-inch iPad Pro’s launch for sometime between April and June of 2015. A spring or summer iPad release would be unorthodox for Apple, and we’ve heard no word of it arriving this summer. In contrast, a May report from ET News stated that the iPad Pro won’t arrive until 2016, when the new silver nanowire technology will be ready.

Back in October, supply chain officials said production of the massive iPad will be delayed due to huge demand for the iPhone 6. The unnamed supply chain sources told The Wall Street Journal the large iPad was supposed to go into full-scale production in December. However, unprecedented demand for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus forced Apple to delay production of the iPad Pro. The new iPhone 6 models sold a record 10 million units over the first weekend and demand in China, as well as India, is expected to be incredibly high.

A9X processor, NFC, Force Touch, and a stylus — Oh my!

iPad Pro rumors have been circulating for quite some time, and we’ve heard a lot of possible specs. The most recent report from 9to5Mac hints that the iPad Pro will be powered by an amped-up A9X processor to make the most of the big screen. It’s said to come with a minimum of 64GB of storage and a 128GB option. However, Apple will not bundle the stylus or keyboard with the purchase of an iPad Pro, so you’ll still have to shell out a pretty penny for the accessories if you want the full experience.

In mid August, noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo hinted that the iPad Pro stylus could come with Force Touch capabilities, just like the Apple Watch. Apple may employ a Force Touch stylus to help users navigate the big-screened iPad, Kuo said.

“We also believe a Force Touch-enabled stylus will enhance productivity as it would offer more precise operation than using only fingers,” Kuo wrote. “Technically, we believe the stylus can be made compatible with iPad models other than the 12.9-inch version, but it depends on the support of software.”

Patently Apple found further evidence of the Force Touch stylus in a European patent. The patent shows 8 special sensors embedded in the iPad and a possible slot for a stylus in the device itself, though that point is not clarified. Force Touch could be used in music, gaming, and virtual reality apps, the patent hints. More details will become available when the patent is published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

An anonymous source familiar with Apple’s plans told AppleInsider that the iPad Pro will have NFC, Force Touch, a stylus, the A8X processor, and perhaps even a USB Type-C port. 9to5Mac disputed the USB Type-C port claim, and says a lightning port will be used instead.

Although it’s unlikely that a nearly 13-inch iPad would ever be used in a tap-to-pay transaction at checkout, Apple may still include NFC on the device so that users can make in-app purchases with Apple Pay and use the tablet to receive payments. The source also claimed Force Touch technology would be used on the iPad Pro.

Earlier reports hinted at the possibility of a Bluetooth stylus coming with the giant iPad, and this source says that the stylus will be pressure sensitive and make use of the screen’s decreased touch latency — which ties in with the Force Touch rumors. The stylus may connect via Bluetooth or possibly NFC.

Finally, the source revealed that Apple may include a USB Type-C port on the larger iPad, but would not specify whether the port will replace the lightning charger or be an extra port on the tablet itself. If Apple includes both the USB-C and the lightning port, the iPad Pro will be the first iPad to include more than one port.

iOS 9 is filled with hints: Split-screen view, predictive touch, and more

When Apple unveiled iOS 9 at its developer conference in June, the presentation was full of hints that the iPad Pro might become a reality soon. The long-rumored split-screen feature and many other tidbits point to new ways in which iOS 9 could take advantage of a larger iPad screen. Indeed, one day before Apple’s September 9 launch event, 9to5Mac hinted that the iPad Pro will be able to fully run two apps side-by-side on the 12.9-inch screen.

  • Split-screen view: Last year, there was a lot of talk that Apple might finally offer a split-screen, app multitasking feature in iOS 8 for the iPad. One developer even found evidence in the code that such a thing was possible. At WWDC, Apple confirmed a 9to5Mac report that the split-screen feature, which would allow iPad owners to use two apps at the same time on the screen, will be available with iOS 9. The feature allows users to see the apps in 1/2, 1/3, and 2/3 views, depending on the apps in use. We’ve tested it out in the beta version of iOS 9, and it works seamlessly, though it needs third-party app support before it becomes truly useful.
  • Predictive touch: Apple mentioned a feature called predictive touch, which uses curves, velocity, and acceleration to predict where any given touch is headed on the screen. It’s a feature that’s key to ensuring that styli are quick and responsive on the iPad’s screen. Many believe this could be a hint that Apple has made a stylus for the rumored iPad Pro.
  • Keyboard shortcuts: Another veiled hint at a possible tablet accessory came in the form of support for keyboard shortcuts in iOS 9. Additionally, Apple showed off a new way to enable a trackpad on the touchscreen keyboard.
  • Notes app gets drawing: Apple’s new Notes app for iOS now supports drawing for the first time. It’s a feature that could make even more sense on an iPad than a phone — especially a big iPad.

None of these features are conclusive proof that the iPad Pro exists, but all together, they sure seem to hint that a larger iPad is coming with a stylus and maybe even a keyboard.

Brighter, more touch-sensitive screen powered by huge battery

The iPad Plus is expected to have a huge 12.9-inch screen with a high resolution. Thanks to snippets of iOS 9 code for the new onscreen keyboard, the iPad Pro’s resolution is pegged at 2,732 x 2,048 pixels, which would match the pixel density of the iPad Air 2’s screen, should the larger iPad boast a 12.9-inch screen, as previously rumored. The code was spotted by AppleInsider, and actually details a 1,366 x 1,024 pixel resolution. However, with retina scaling, the iPad Pro reaches the aforementioned 2,732 x 2,048 pixel resolution.

J.P. Morgan analysts hinted that the touchscreen would feature a special new “glass film film” technology. Apple is supposedly looking to GIS and Sharp for the displays and Nitto Denko for the film.

A May 2015 report from Korea’s ET News hints that the screen will also use a special silver nanowire touch panel, which is supposedly significantly more touch-sensitive than other touch panels. The technology also allows for thinner displays, which are cheaper to produce, the report says. The glass that will cover the display tech is said to be sapphire, but long-time Apple followers will have heard this before in relation to the iPhone 6, only to ultimately be disappointed.

The iPad Plus’ larger screen, according to GizmoChina will supposedly sport a 2K resolution, but as the iPad Air 2’s 2,048 x 1.536 pixel resolution can be referred to as 2K, this may not be any different to existing Retina iPad screens. A 11,000mAh battery may supply the power for the massive screen, way up from the 7,240mAh cell inside the iPad Air 2.

Previously, noted KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has also made accurate predictions about Apple products in the past, has turned his attention to the rumored monster iPad Pro. According to his supply chain sources, Kuo says Apple is planning to add a special oxide screen panel to the larger iPad to achieve “high resolution, quick response, and high color saturation.” Kuo also said the new screen and other factors pose a difficult challenge for Apple’s suppliers. His comments were first picked up by MacRumors.

Bigger than bigger — but this time, on an iPad

The most recent rumblings suggest the iPad Pro is essentially a scaled-up iPad Air 2 with an additional speaker grill. Sources tell 9to5Mac’s Mark Gruman that two models, one with cellular radios (codenamed J99) and one without (J98), are currently undergoing internal testing.

At first, reports hinted that the iPad Pro would be absolutely massive, measuring 12.9 inches diagonally. Since then, a few other possibilities have come up. An early February report from GizmoChina posits the larger iPad will sport a 12.9-inch screen, and be called the iPad Plus, as opposed to iPad Pro or iPad Air Plus. The same article suggests that the iPad Plus will measure 7-millimeters thick, which is in tune with earlier reports.

Earlier on, Japanese site Macotakara claimed the iPad Pro will sport a slightly more manageable 12.2-inch screen. The report did not mention the projected resolution. The publication also hinted the king-size iPad will be somewhat thicker than the svelte iPad Air 2, which measures 6.1-millimeters thick. The iPad Pro is expected to come in somewhere between 6.9 and 7.1 millimeters, so it will be about as thick as the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

The same publication later picked up a report from Japanese magazine Mac Fan, which published a schematic of what it calls the iPad Air Plus. The illustration shows a 12.2-inch screen, four speakers, and hints that the new A9 processor may power the monster iPad. Seeing as Macotakara accurately predicted other specs for Apple products, Macotakara could be right on the money about the iPad Pro. Of course, there is some debate as to whether the iPad Pro is an official product or just an experiment Apple will discard in favor of other, more popular products like the iPhone.

Renders and leaked cases show possible design

In mid-April 2015, Apple enthusiast and leaker Sonny Dickson posted images of what he says are cases designed for the iPad Pro. The designs give little away about the tablet itself, other than it may feature stereo speakers placed at either end of the body, and dual ports – one on the base, and one on the side. A similar layout was seen on early original iPad prototypes.

The cases include a folio-style model with a folding cover that can act as a stand, along with traditional cases for the rear panel that are possibly made from silicone and hard plastic. These show cutouts for the camera, headphone socket, the sleep/wake key, and the new speaker setup. Additionally, there’s a hole for the charger which appears to be larger than expected.

iPad Pro Case Crystal Leak Top
Image used with permission by copyright holder

It’s difficult to say these cases are evidence of the iPad Pro’s existence, or its impending release, as case manufacturers will often make up prototypes for unreleased, or even rumored, products.

Using possible dimensions for Apple’s big tablet which were leaked recently, well-known 3D modeler and designer Martin Hajek made a few renders of what the iPad Pro and its accompanying stylus might look like. They show what Hajek calls the “return of the bezel,” while the stylus mockup is a sleek, Adonit-like writing implement. Of course, these images are just renders, so the iPad Pro and its rumored stylus may not look like this at all, though the size comparison could be accurate.

Earlier, YouTube user Canoopsy produced a mockup of the iPad Pro, and used it to compare the size with other examples of Apple’s hardware. Obviously it’s larger than existing iPhones and iPads, but the surprising part comes when it’s put against a 13-inch MacBook, because it turns out to be almost identical in size. Check out the video below to see if you’d want such an enormous tablet.

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Malarie Gokey
Former Digital Trends Contributor
As DT's Mobile Editor, Malarie runs the Mobile and Wearables sections, which cover smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, and…
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