Apple to introduce three new iPad models next year

Apple’s iPad lineup may have lost sales momentum in recent years, but the relatively recent rollout of “Pro” models have helped inject a bit of much-needed life into the device. Now comes word via analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (via MacRumors) that Apple has some interesting changes in store for its tablet lineup.

According to Kuo, Apple plans to unveil a new 10.5-in. iPad Pro model sometime next year. Kuo adds that the new pro model will be a complement to the 12.9-in. iPad Pro model and will sit in between a more affordable 9.7-in. iPad model. That being the case, it remains to be seen how Apple plans to position the 10.5-in. iPad Pro model and how it will stand apart from the slightly smaller and more affordable 9.7-in. model.

We expect three new iPads (12.9” iPad Pro 2, new size 10.5” iPad Pro & low-cost 9.7” iPad) to be launched in 2017, though this may not drive shipment growth amid structural headwinds; 2017F shipments to fall 10-20% YoY.

If the iPad comes in a larger size, such as a 10.5” model, we believe it will be helpful to bid for tenders within the commercial and education markets. As a result, we expect Apple to launch a 10.5” iPad Pro in 2017.

In addition, we estimate the 12.9” iPad Pro 2 and 10.5” iPad Pro will adopt the A10X processor, with TSMC (2330 TT, NT$177.5, N) being the sole supplier using 10nm process technology. The low-cost 9.7” model may adopt the A9X processor, which is also exclusively supplied by TSMC.

With the aforementioned lineup representing Apple’s 2017 tablet plans, Kuo adds that we may have to wait until 2018 before we see Apple introduce any truly compelling changes to its tablet lineup. Specifically, Kuo says that Apple in 2018 may switch the iPad’s display technology to flexible AMOLED panels.

It also remains to be seen what, if anything, happens to Apple's iPad Mini lineup. It's been quite a while since we've seen any substantive updates to Apple's smaller iPad lineup, and some have even suggested that the iPad Mini has run its course thanks to the gargantuan 5.5-in. iPhone Plus.

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