Skip to main content

A 16-inch iPad? Why this rumored monstrosity should never see the light of day

Apple is reportedly developing larger iPads in the 14-inch to 16-inch range. While that would make for a more immersive experience when docked with a keyboard, it’s hard to imagine how such a device — let’s call it the “iPad Pro Max” — would make sense as part of the iPad line.

The report comes from Bloomberg, which says Apple’s engineers and designers are currently “exploring” the larger iPad models. The tablet allegedly wouldn’t arrive until 2023 at the earliest — if at all. The report comments that the potential 14-inch to 16-inch iPad would “continue to blur the lines between tablet and laptop.”

Would it, though? We’re essentially talking about a touchscreen laptop with an unwieldy tablet mode as an afterthought. Such a device would have a small audience, and it would hardly warrant using the name “iPad.”

Apple executive, standing in front of a huge image of the iPad Pro.
Apple / Apple

Bigger is not always better

In terms of size, the tablet versus laptop question is a zero-sum game. The farther you push into ideal laptop sizes, the less comfortable the device becomes as a consumer tablet. The opposite also holds: The more you prioritize tablet comfort, the more undersized it is as a laptop.

The 11-inch iPad Pro and 10.9-inch iPad Air both hit an ideal size for tablet use. While they’re on the smaller side when docked with a keyboard, they’re still capable as smaller notebooks. And for those who want a bigger screen for laptop mode, Apple offers the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, which hits the upper limits of what feels comfortable in hand.

As it stands today, the iPad Pro blurs the lines between tablet and laptop about as well as a single device can.

Less than blurring the lines between tablet and laptop, this rumored “iPad Pro Max” would primarily be a touchscreen laptop. Undocking it into a supersized slate might make sense if you’re sketching designs on it with an Apple Pencil. But for the majority of people who aren’t professional designers or digital artists, it would be like picking up a coffee tray to browse the news or read an e-book.

That device would almost start bleeding into the territory of the Surface Studio, Microsoft’s 28-inch desktop PC that can tilt down into a drawing mode for artists. While that’s terrific for the relatively few pros who need a table-sized drawing tablet, it’s a device that only appeals to a highly specialized audience.

An artist touching the screen of the Microsoft Surface Studio 2.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Humongous tablets aren’t unprecedented. In 2015, the enormous Samsung Galaxy View blurred the lines between small TV and outsized tablet. “Oversized and underpowered, Samsung’s Galaxy View is a poor TV and a worse tablet,” we pronounced in our review at the time. No matter, Samsung tried again three years later with the Galaxy View 2, which suffered the same critique. They were unique concepts that never caught on, and both generations are discontinued today.

Even Lenovo, a company that never met a wacky, mad-scientist product it wasn’t willing to take a chance on, hasn’t dared make a tablet larger than 13 inches.

That isn’t to say the rumored 14-inch to 16-inch iPad wouldn’t be terrific when docked on Apple’s Magic Keyboard. Its screen would be well suited to sitting on a desktop. Keeping four or more windows onscreen at the same time would go a long way toward boosting the device’s productivity capabilities. It could further make a case for iPadOS as a work platform. And if Apple began allowing MacOS apps on the iPad, it would essentially become a touchscreen MacBook Pro.

One way to make the device practical in tablet mode would be if Apple used folding-display tech. While we’ve seen folding smartphones that expand into a tablet, folding displays could also move in the opposite direction. Imagine a 16-inch screen that could also fold down into a more pedestrian-sized tablet.

Unlikely, yes. But that could make for a more consumer-friendly device than the “iPad Pro Max” that this report describes. Folding could remove the zero-sum aspect from tablet/laptop hybrids.

iPad Pro on a desk with other Apple devices and accessories.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Apple once specialized in niche products for creative professionals, but that’s much less of its focus today. While Apple won’t ignore that market entirely, the iPhone maker has outgrown its need to invest in it. Considering how many generations it took to fix a faulty MacBook keyboard, it’s hard to see the company suddenly going all-in on such an ultra-niche creative market — especially when the current 12.9-inch iPad Pro can work just fine for that same audience.

For a firm that shies away from bloated and confusing product lines, a grossly oversized tablet that you can barely justify calling an iPad would be a cringeworthy blunder. Many Apple prototypes never see the light of day, and that’s where the safe money lies on this concept.

Editors' Recommendations

Will Shanklin
Senior Writer, Mobile Tech
Will Shanklin began writing for online-tech publications more than a decade ago. During that time, he has worked for media…
Here’s how iPadOS 17 is taking your iPad to the next level
Someone holding the 12.9-inch version of the iPad Pro (2022).

At its annual WWDC 2023 conference, Apple introduced the latest iteration of its tablet operating system.

Say hello to iPadOS 17, which is going to be out in the fall with some notable features updates in tow. For starters, a handful of iOS 17 tricks are also making their way to iPadOS 17.
The Health app comes to iPad

Read more
This iPhone 16 Pro rumor just ruined the iPhone 15 Pro
A black iPhone 14 Pro lying on a table.

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

I had a ton of hope when I splurged the equivalent of $1,700 on the iPhone 14 Pro last year, buying into the camera hype of the new 48-megapixel sensor, the snazzy Dynamic Island, and a faster chip. I was sorely disappointed, especially when I looked at the competition and noticed I was missing out on meaningful perks like a folded lens telephoto camera for a higher lossless zoom range. I was not alone in sharing the disappointment.

Read more
Final Cut Pro is coming to the iPad — but there’s a catch
Someone using Final Cut Pro on an iPad.

It's happening. After years of and years of begging Apple to do so, the company is finally bringing its popular Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro editing apps to the iPad.

Apple made the announcement in a press release on May 9, saying that both apps will be available for the iPad beginning May 23. Final Cut Pro will be compatible with any iPad with an M1 chip or newer, while Logic Pro will work with iPads running the A12 Bionic Chip or later.

Read more