Mobile World Congress is just a few days away, but the phones we’re anticipating from MWC aren’t the only rumors making the rounds this week. Apple, who is known for holding WWDC in June and a fall event for the iPhone, occasionally holds a spring event as well, which is expected to be the case again this year. In the past, these spring events have introduced the iPad 2 and iPad 3, Apple TV, the Apple Watch, a new MacBook, and last year we saw the 9.7-inch iPad Pro and the iPhone SE.
In this year’s event, rumors from Mac Otakara and Macrumors tell us that we may see some subtle changes to Apple’s current smartphone line-up this spring, including a red iPhone 7 and 7 Plus and a 128GB version of the 4-inch iPhone SE to be offered alongside its 16 and 64GB versions. Probably the biggest rumor to surface from these reports are the details on what is expected from the iPad Pro's refresh.
Although new iterations of the 12.9 and 9.7-inch iPad Pro are to be expected, there are also rumors that 10.5-inch and 7.9-inch iPad Pros will make debuts as well, complete with Smart Connectors, True Tone display, Apple Pencil support, and 12-megapixel rear-facing cameras. If true, this move would effectively unify Apple’s iPad lineup, which currently consists of the iPad Pro, iPad Air, and iPad Mini variants.
As subtle as these changes might seem, from my perspective they all appear to be welcome changes. Apple’s (PRODUCT)Red accessories and devices brought a bold splash of color that livened up the otherwise neutral choices Apple typically goes with, so an iPhone with red hardware may manage to turn heads and give the iPhone a small boost before the next generation is released later this year. A 128GB iPhone SE model is also a welcome addition. The 16 and 64GB options the SE already comes in are decent, but a third option seems appropriate and falls in line with the rest of Apple’s mobile gadgets.
I really hope to see Apple move towards a unified iPad Pro lineup. I know the Apple Pencil was somewhat of a joke when first introduced with the original 12.9-inch iPad Pro – especially because of the irony from Steve Jobs’ oft-quoted jab at styluses back when the iPhone was first announced – but in my opinion, the Apple Pencil is the most comfortable and functional stylus I’ve ever used. Between it and the Smart Keyboard, they can make the iPad inherently more functional for many. If all iPads turned Pro, the only real choice people would have to make is deciding which size to buy.
I’m curious to see how offering four sizes would go. Honestly, it sounds nice. With a diverse offering that ranges between 7.9 and 12.9-inch displays, there looks to be something for everybody. Additionally, the 10.5-inch variant will allegedly break the mold by offering a new screen size along with a nearly bezel-less display, which would bring some novelty to the lineup. I also suspect that such a product may be easing people into the future of iPads (and gadgets in general, as it appears “bezel-less” is shaping up to be a defining change in mobile this year). With the reintroduction of the 4-inch iPhone last year, making sure there is a size that suits everybody isn't exactly outside of the scope of possibility for Apple.
It doesn’t sound like it will be much, but polishing an already successful lineup seems like a good way to remain relevant until the fall, which is allegedly when the real winds of change will blow for the iPhone.