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Everything we know about Apple’s 2022 iPad Pro refresh

The 2022 fall launch schedule for Apple will be highlighted by the debut of a new smartphone in the iPhone 14 series. However, there is a strong possibility that new tablets are also in the pipeline. Unlike details about the iPhone 14, not much reliable information has been leaked so far, but the few crumbs of possible upgrades that are making rounds of social media have us hyped.

If you’re eager to know what the new Pro tablets from Apple will bring to the table, expect some design refinements, the usual generation-over-generation chip update, and a much-needed charging technology update, among others. From what leaks and some reliable sources have shared over the past few months, here’s everything you can expect from Apple’s next-generation iPad Pro tablets:

Design fate tied to a critical upgrade

So far, we haven’t heard about any design changes for the iPad Pro refresh this year. The core design with uniform bezels, a squircle camera island at the back, and a metallic chassis will likely carry on for another generation. However, the introduction of wireless charging support can make things interesting.

Apple iPad Pro 2021 model.
Apple iPad Pro (2021)

Bloomberg reported that Apple was trying to find ways to implement wireless charging on the iPad Pro, possibly by taking the MagSafe route that it introduced on the iPhone 12 series. However, the metallic rear panel of the iPad Pro proves to be a hindrance to charge transfer.

Apple is left with a few options here. One is to ditch the metallic rear panel in favor of glass, to allow for wireless charging. However, the company’s engineers are reportedly in a dilemma about the decision, as a glass back is more fragile. Plus, given the significantly bulkier profile of an iPad, the glass panel would be more prone to mechanical damage.

Of course, the cost of repairs will also balloon up and repairs are also going to get trickier. Another design consideration on the table is to put the wireless charging coil beneath the Apple logo, which is now made out of glass instead of being etched or polished over the metallic rear panel.

stock illustration of ipad pro

So far, we haven’t come across any new reports that can tell us about the final decision that Apple has made regarding the wireless charging hardware dilemma and how it will alter the iPad Pro’s final design. Irrespective of the route Apple takes, the perk will be quite meaningful.

With support for wireless charging and a larger battery in the shell, the 2022 iPad Pro refresh will also allow users to charge their iPhone and earbuds by simply placing it over the tablet. The tech is not entirely unheard of, especially on Android phones.

But when it comes to tablets, this feature is a rarity. So far, the only mainstream brand that offers support for reverse wireless charging is Huawei. The company’s flagship MatePad Pro tablet allows users to juice up their gadgets at a 7.5W peak output via reverse wireless charging.

iPhone 13 Pro in Incipio Grip for MagSafe case.
Apple might bring MagSafe to the iPad Pro this year. Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

In the March edition of his PowerOn newsletter, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman mentioned that MagSafe might appear on the 2022 iPad Pro, while 9to5Mac claimed a couple of months earlier that Apple had scrapped plans of a glass rear panel for the iPad Pro this year.

An even bigger iPad Pro?

One of the hottest iPad rumors of the year doesn’t have anything to do with feature upgrades. Instead, it predicts a future where Apple goes all-in with the size of its Pro tablet, somewhat like the giant Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra.

Display supply chain analyst Ross Young tweeted back in June that a 14.1-inch iPad Pro was on the design table. A Bloomberg report also mentioned that Apple was exploring iPad Pro models as big as 14-inch and 16-inch in size, parallel to the MacBook Pro models with the M1 Pro and M1 Max silicon.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra with keyboard.
Apple reportedly wants to make a giant tablet like the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra. Ajay Kumar

A key argument is that for a person used to working on a 16-inch MacBook Pro, even the biggest iPad Pro variant with a 12.9-inch screen is cumbersome for maintaining a cross-device workflow. Apple is definitely trying to blur the lines between tablets and Mac by equipping iPads with a laptop-class process and features like Stage Manager and Universal Control, it makes sense that Apple was exploiting even bigger tablets targeted at demanding workflows.

More or less the same screen

When Apple switched to a mini-LED panel for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, there was hope that the smaller 11-inch model would also get the same treatment a year later. However, that doesn’t seem to be happening, at least this year.

TF International Securities analyst and reliable Apple roadmap leakster Ming-Chi Kuo recently tweeted that a mini-LED panel won’t be making its way to a new form factor in 2022 due to cost concerns. Young also wrote in a research note that the 11-inch iPad Pro refresh for 2022 will stick to a ProMotion LCD panel and won’t be getting the mini-LED screen upgrade that Apple markets as Liquid Retina XDR tech.

An iPad Pro with Apple Pencil

To give a brief idea about the core differences here, a mini-LED panel – despite fundamentally being an LCD panel – mimics the properties of an OLED screen by offering deeper blacks, improved color reproduction, wider viewing angles, and better contrast control. On the iPad Pro range, the 12.9-inch model’s mini-LED delivers higher peak brightness (1,600 nits versus 600 nits) and a higher 10,00,000:1 contrast ratio.

So, it appears that the 2022 iPad Pro range will stick with a mini-LED panel for the 12.9-inch variant, while the 11-inch version will offer an LCD screen for another year. As for the highly-anticipated jump to an OLED screen upgrade for Apple’s tablets, you might have another year, or two, for that to materialize.

The big chip upgrade

The existing iPad Pro lineup comes armed with the M1 silicon, which can also be found inside a handful of Mac hardware. This year, Apple is expected to put the next-gen M2 chip inside the iPad Pro refresh.

An Apple M2 chip on a stylized gradient background.
Digital Trends Graphic

Compared to the M1, the M2 silicon packs in more transistors, faster CPU cores, more GPU cores, increased memory bandwidth, a 40% faster neural Engine, an improved Image Signal Processor (ISP), and gains in video encoding and decoding.

Built using TSMC’s enhanced 5nm fabrication process, Apple is touting an 18% performance gain at the same power consumption levels for the M2, while the graphics performance also executes a 25% jump. The memory bandwidth gains should also allow the M2 chip to better handle demanding scenarios like Stage Manager and heavy multimedia editing workflows.

Pricing and release window

Talking about the launch timeline, Apple’s Fall event will mark the debut of new phones as well as tablets. And quite possibly, the second-generation AirPods Pro as well. Apple usually adheres to a September-October window for the launch of new hardware and will reportedly follow the same cadence in 2022.

ipad pro 2021

According to a post on the Korean blog Naver, the company will introduce the next-generation iPad Pro and the 10th-generation iPad at an event in October. According to Gurman (via MacRumors), Apple is reportedly prepping up for a pre-recorded launch event that will be livestreamed in early September.

So far, we haven’t come across any reliable information about the pricing strategy. But if the iPhone SE (2022) is any indication and the current state of the supply chain industry is taken into consideration, a small price bump won’t be totally unexpected.

The current-gen iPad Pro lineup with the M1 chip inside starts at $799 for the 11-inch model, while the 12.9-inch variant will burn a $1,099-sized hole in your pocket for the base variant with no cellular connectivity perks. There is no word if Apple will finally add some new colors to the iPad Pro lineup apart from the usual dark gray and silver trims.

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