2022 iPad Expectations — Revealed!

New iPad Pro with M2. And MagSafe. 11-inch Pro with Mini LED. iPad Air with A16 and Mini LED. iPad mini… maybe not so much. But 10th Generation iPad. iPad Non-Pro, Non-Air. iPad Nothing with a spec bump and 10.5-inch display?

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Apple’s baseline iPad has consistently been one of the best values in tech. It’s never had the best display or best camera system, but year in, year out, every September, on the September, Apple’s been updating it with better and better processors, and added support for everything from the OG Pencil to the Smart Keyboard. I know some people want a laminated screen, while others maintain non-laminated is cheaper to repair, and many want Pencil 2 because charging Pencil 1 is still so damn awkward looking. But my guess is, 2022 will bring more of the same. Would it go, could it go USB-C like literally every other iPad now? Even odds. Way easier to see — an A14 Bionic chipset, the 10.5-inch display scale-up that was rumored for last year already, and the same great $349 price tag.

The iPad mini… that’s tougher to see getting another update so soon, especially since the current one just got a massive redesign last September, and especially especially because it took two and half long years to arrive. Don’t get me wrong, I’d all-caps love to see mini-LED on that tiny display and now. Just Mini-LED all the things. And I know some of you want nothing more than a full-on iPad mini Pro… or iPad Pro mini… with 120Hz, a Magic Keyboard, a 90-degree draw switch to de-jelly refresh, and every other premium bell and high-end whistle. But Apple sees the market as a smaller Air, not a smaller Pro, and the update cycle as every couple or few years, at least so far. So I’m not going to expect anything more from the mini until I see it, and I just don’t think that’ll be any time soon.

The iPad Air though… That got its massive redesign in September of 2020. So, 2020 seems about right for a more iterative update. Including moving it to Mini LED, which Apple seems like they’re going to be doing with everything other than their entry-level lineup and soon. If it comes out in the spring, like in 2019, I’d expect an A15 on-board. If it comes out in the fall, like 2020, I’d expect a next-generation A16 on-board. That should be 4 or 3 nanometer, depending which new process node Apple and TSMC go with. But either way, better efficiency and performance, with how Apple spends and saves those even tinier transistors determining the exact mix of both. Especially since Apple uses efficiency to drive performance. Probably no 120Hz, at least not until the iPad Pro goes 240Hz, but a fresh new rainbow paint job of fresh new colors, like the iPhones get every year, seems like a safe bet. That, and maybe 5G?

The 11-inch iPad Pro didn’t go Mini-LED last April like the 12.9-inch did. It would have just blown up the price point… at that point… here’s my point — it’s rumored to be doing that next. I doubt Apple’s going to be willing to let the starting price go much if any higher than it already is, so maybe the Mini-LED process has been paid down or just come down to make swallowing it into the existing bill-of-materials just way less bitter of a pill. It’s already got literally every other premium feature, from the ultra-low-power Mac processor to the ultra-expensive Magic Keyboard, so getting it to full parity while also stepping it all up should absolutely be the priority. There’s just nothing I like better than choosing based on display and battery size and literally nothing else.

And I know a lot of people are going to say, just throw macOS on it and call it a day. But we already have the Mac. Damn fine Macs now as well. So that would be such an utter disservice not only to the iPad but to everyone who wants an iPad, not a Mac. I’m going to stop myself before I abuse that old Steve Jobs car truck analogy more than I already have in my life, but you can make really freaking powerful cars without them having to be trucks, and really freaking luxurious trucks without them having to be cars. And there’s still a ton of benefit to both.

Speaking of SUVs… the 12.9-inch Pro already has Mini-LED but if it comes out this spring, like the previous two did, it should be upgraded with an M2. If it comes out this fall instead, maybe an M3. M2 would likely be based on the A15, so much more efficient performance cores, much more performant efficiency cores, way better graphics cores, and full-on ProRes media engines so it can cut through high fidelity video… maybe not like a MacBook Pro, but way closer than any iPad Pro before it. M3 would likely be based o A16, so all that, plus another generation of improvements, multiplied by another process shrink, and, yes, drool! Also rumored is MagSafe charging, Apple’s brand of power cable that attaches magnetically and charges inductively. Some call it wireless, but it still requires contact and… yeah… there’s still a cable on the other end. Would that be something like MagSafe 3 on the latest Apple Silicon MacBook Pros, or more like iPhone MagSafe with the magnetic disks? The former could just plug in with minimal changes needed to the core design. The latter would require some form of non-metal contact point. Would am iPhone-style glass back work at iPad scale? Would just a glass Apple logo in the center be capable, and structurally sound enough? I have so many questions!