There is no official confirmation that Apple even has a 13-inch tablet under development, and there won’t be until such a product is released, but rumors and leaks from the upstream OEM chain that they do have been persistent since last spring. Current speculative consensus is that an iPad Pro or Maxi is in the works to join the iPad Air and iPad mini next October.
Digitimes’ Aaron Lee and Joseph Tsai report that Apple is fixing to release a 12.9-inch tablet in Q4 2014, that Samsung is also reportedly planning to release a 12- to 13-inch tablet in 2014, and that their industry insider sources believe these larger-sized tablets will greatly impact ultrabook (and MacBook) demand. Apple’s 13-inch tablet is projected to be manufactured by longtime Apple OEM supplier and engineering collaborator Quanta Computer of Taiwan. Lee and Tsai also cite rumors saying the bigger iPad will be powered by a 20nm processor manufactured by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), to be shared by a new iPhone phablet to be released in May, 2014.
Motley Fool’s Chris Neiger thinks there are good reasons why an iPad Pro version makes a lot of sense, and why 2014 timing will be spot on if one materializes. He also says there’s a case for an iPad hybrid—something between a tablet and a laptop. He notes Apple has already taken a pre-emptive step toward preparing for an iPad Pro launch with the release of the A7 64-bit SoC in the iPhone 5s, iPad Air and Retina iPad mini.
Neiger also says a fourth quarter 2014 iPad Pro release is most likely, and goes farther out on a limb in predicting (reasonably) an optional keyboard with some sort of trackpad-like integration that seamlessly integrates with the iPad Pro, more internal storage space, and a faster processor. It’s been suggested that a 13-inch iPad might even replace the 11.6-inch MacBook Air in Apple’s product lineup. I hope not, but the MacBook Air line is due for a redesign, possibly this year, and Motley Fool’s Neiger contends that crossover between the MacBook and iPad categories has already begun.
If the October 2014 timing proves correct for a 13-inch iPad release, it may not be quite “spot-on,” however, inasmuch as it looks like Apple will be playing catch-up, with arch-rival and frenemy Samsung beating them to market by half a year. At least if a report by the Samsung-centric SAMMOBILE site holds real-world water.
SAMMOBILE say they’ve received confirmation on a Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 tablet along with Antutu benchmark details, that they have been informed the new tablet product’s user interface will be new and unique, and that the Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 will be unveiled with Samsung’s latest tranche of new tablet devices at the annual Mobile World Congress to be held 24-27 February in Barcelona, Spain.
If the information is accurate, the Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 will come in both WiFi and LTE versions, both featuring a 12.2-inch, 2560 x 1600 resolution, 16:10 aspect ratio display, and the LTE version at least to be powered by a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 SoC clocked at 2.3GHz, an Adreno 330 GPU with a clock speed of 450MHz, 3GB RAM, an 8 Megapixel rear camera sensor capable of shooting Full HD 1080p video, and a 2.1 Megapixel front facing camera for snapping selfies and making video calls. SAMMOBILE say it is unclear at this point whether the WiFi variant will pack the same Snapdragon SoC or Samsung’s own Exynos SoC.
These machines are projected to come pre-loaded with Google’s Android 4.4.2 KitKat OS and a new version of Samsung’s TouchWiz interface.
Connectivity-wise, the report says the Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 will have WiFi 802.11ac support, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0 + LE, and an IR blaster for remote control access to Samsung’s WatchON service. The report contains no mention of what I/O ports will be included, but one can reasonably anticipate there will be at least a microUSB port in a tablet that size.
Going up against hardware configurations like that, Apple is going to want a more powerful A8 (or perhaps Intel silicon if some recent rumors have it right), and more than the 1GB of RAM that comes in the iPad Air.
For the full SAMMOBILE report, visit www.sammobile.com.