We already saw Apple’s new M1 iPad Air, and rumors suggest another Apple tablet is on its way in 2022: an updated iPad Pro. Although we don’t yet know for sure when Apple will unveil the tablet, the latest gossip points to a possible fall release for the new iPad Pro.
Apple updates its tablets twice a year, or at least that’s how it’s worked over the past couple of years. The iPad Pro arrived in the spring, while the basic iPad, iPad Mini and iPad Air updates debuted in the fall. That cycle could shift again for 2022 — it’s always hard to tell with Apple — and already has, with the new iPad Air that was announced earlier this month. Until we know for sure, here are some guidelines for choosing between the current iPads.
iPad Pro: Probably coming in June or the fall
New iPad Pros arrived in the spring of 2020 and 2021, but the next release could happen at WWDC in June, or even later in the fall. The previous iPad Pro before that, which added Face ID and USB-C, arrived in the fall of 2018. Seasoned Apple watcher Mark Gurman at Bloomberg speculates in his latest newsletter, seen by MacRumors, that the next iPad Pro will debut in the fall of 2022.
Some rumors point to the Pro tablets adding MagSafe, which has popped up in Apple’s recent MacBook Pros, iMacs and iPhones. The one weird thing about MagSafe so far is that every instance has involved a different type of charger. Would Apple make the iPad Pro MagSafe yet another unique accessory, separate from the iPhone and MacBook versions? That would be… annoying.
But it might not even happen. While a 2021 report from Gurman pointed to a glass-backed iPad Pro for MagSafe charging, recently it’s been suggested that maybe the tech won’t arrive this year after all. Leaker @Dylandkt on Twitter (since redacted) also suggested the new iPad Pro may not offer MagSafe charging. Personally, I don’t care much. iPads tend to have strong battery life, and charging with USB-C isn’t a big deal. iPads can already charge up a bit through cases that use Smart Connector ports, although Smart Connector-compatible accessories remain few and far between. Maybe a return of MagSafe branding would mean an expansion of accessories to address the Smart Connector’s shortcomings, though.
The 12.9-inch 2021 iPad Pro was the only model to have a step-up Mini LED display, similar to the recent MacBook Pros, offering deeper blacks and more dynamic contrast. The 11-inch model might finally get Mini LED, too. However, a rumor from reliable display analyst Ross Young suggests we shouldn’t expect that this year. (And tech analyst Ming-Chi Kuo tweeted earlier this month that Apple might not release any new tech with Mini LED in 2022.) Instead, a March 14th report from Young, seen by MacRumors, points to both the 11- and 12.9-inch iPads getting OLED displays in the future.
When it comes to screen size, a larger display for the iPad Pro may still be a few years away. A report from MacRumors suggests that two of Apple’s suppliers are preparing OLED displays in larger sizes (up to 15 inches) for future iPad models. However, these bigger Pro tablets aren’t expected to arrive until 2023 or 2024.
What about a chip upgrade? I already feel like the M1 in the iPad Pro vastly outperforms the software; I’d rather see iPadOS evolve to support external monitors better and add a lot more multitasking flexibility.
Finally, battery life: To me, iPads are fine. But the iPad Pro’s more power-intensive nature, and its keyboard cases, could mean a useful battery upgrade is in the works. The MacBook Air now outperforms the iPad in battery performance, and maybe in 2022 the iPad Pro could catch up.
Will iPads finally fix the camera placement, though?
My biggest iPad request, besides revamping the OS extensively to make it a better Mac alternative, is fixing the front camera placement. Zoom meetings on iPads in landscape mode (which is how they mostly orient themselves if you use any sort of keyboard case) have their cameras placed off to the side. While Apple’s zoom-in Center Stage camera tech helps a bit, it doesn’t address eye-contact issues — I usually look like I’m staring off into space during my iPad Zooms. I’d love a camera switch to the longer edge, but who knows if that’s in the cards this year. Apple didn’t shift the camera placement for its latest iPad Air.
iPad Air: Excellent value
The iPad Air got an upgrade at Apple’s March event after the tablet didn’t see a new version for 2021. The 2022 iPad Air takes the 2020 iPad Air’s design and powers it up with Apple’s M1 chip — the same processor that runs on the newest Macs and the 2021 iPad Pro — as well as 5G support. (Check out our 5G explainers.)
The Air also finally got the one feature it lacked compared with all other 2021 iPads: the autozooming, wider-angle, front-facing Center Stage camera. At $599, a more reasonable price than that of the iPad Pro, it could end up being the go-to pick for a lot of people.
For more about what we expect from Apple in 2022, take a look at CNET’s iPhone 14 and Mac Pro rumor roundups.