After a year of gangbuster iPad sales, Apple is reportedly working on a new design for the iPad mini and revamping its iPad Pro to support wireless charging.
The news comes from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, Apple prognosticator extraordinaire. Citing anonymous Apple sources, Gurman says the company is experimenting with switching to a glass back for the iPad Pro. The move would mirror how recent iPhones have also transitioned from aluminium to glass, and the change in materials would enable wireless charging on the iPad for the first time ever. Gurman also claims Apple is testing something similar to MagSafe for the Pro, but that it’ll keep the Thunderbolt port as wireless charging can be notoriously slow.
Another neat tidbit is that Apple is also looking into reverse wireless charging — as in, the ability to charge iPhones and other gadgets like AirPods or the Apple Watch from the iPad Pro. Android fans will probably roll their eyes, as this has been a feature Android phones have been able to do for years at this point, but it has yet to make its way over to the Apple ecosystem.
The report goes on to say that Apple is exploring a “future wireless charger” that could potentially deliver on the promises of the failed AirPower mat. That jives with another rumour from Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo last year saying that Apple is working on a smaller wireless charging mat. The company is also “internally investigating” an alternative wireless charging method that doesn’t rely on coils but can somehow work over larger distances. Cool if it pans out, but that’s way down the pipeline — if Apple even manages to figure it out.
The new iPad Pro is slated for next year, but in 2021, Apple is also purportedly working on a thinner entry-level iPad and an updated look for the iPad Mini. This would be the first design refresh for the Mini in six years, and Bloomberg claims it’ll feature narrower bezels and may possibly remove the home button altogether.
2020 was a good year for tablets overall as people sought more ways to work and study from home, with a 13.6% increase in sales. Apple overwhelmingly dominated on this front, shipping 19 million iPads in the last quarter of 2020 alone. (It shipped roughly 53 million in all of 2020.) According to Bloomberg, those gains have only continued into 2021. In Q1 2021, Apple earned $US7.8 ($10) billion from iPads, a 79% increase from the same time last year.
On top of booming sales, it makes sense that Apple is revamping its entire iPad line given the transition to its own silicon. The first M1 iPad Pros launched in April, with the 12.9-inch iPad Pro sporting a shiny new miniLED display. However, while you can hardly argue with the iPad’s hardware, iPadOS has left many people wanting — especially among those looking to use the iPad as a laptop alternative. Even so, WWDC 21 is right around the corner and it’s possible that with Apple doubling down on iPads, we’ll finally get to see some software improvements as well.