New iPad rumors: Planned Apple Store outage on Tuesday—could it be new iPads?

New iPad Pro models are expected this spring. Here are all the rumors leading up to Apple's unveiling.

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Adam Patrick Murray

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Spring is just around the corner, which means we’re likely getting close to another Apple event—and the rumor mill is starting to churn. As first spotted by MacRumors, Japanese site Mac Otakara recently claimed that Apple will host an event in March with its new iPad Pro lineup in the starring role. But now we’re not so sure—maybe an event will happen in April, after Apple Park opens, or perhaps Apple will just update the product mix in the Apple Store without a press event at all.

Until it’s official, we’ll collect every rumor here and add our two cents, right up until the moment the new models are unveiled onstage.

What’s the latest?

The rumor: Apple Store down! Well, going down. The eagle eyes at MacRumors noticed that Apple’s online store would have some planned “maintenance” on Tuesday, March 21, from midnight to 5:30 a.m. Pacific. Hmmm. Since the store always goes down before new products are added, naturally this has curiosity piqued that this could be the big launch of new iPad models, a refreshed iPhone SE, and a PRODUCT(RED) iPhone 7.

Plausible? An earlier rumor put the launch window at this week, and no event invitations have gone out, so it’s possible Apple will launch products tomorrow with no event. The circumstancial evidence is starting to stack up! Of course, Apple could launch a couple new things in the store tomorrow, but hold back the new iPads, and still schedule a press event for April.

An April event?

The rumor: The new 10.5-inch iPad Pro may be coming sooner than we think. According to Digitimes, Apple has moved up production of the new model to March, and it’s expected to announce the new size during a hardware event in early April. This event will be timed to commemorate the grand opening of the new Apple Park campus in Cupertino. Originally, Apple was expecting to start production of the 10.5-inch iPad Pro in May or June. This means that the new iPad will be here two months earlier. Apple is also rumored to released an upgraded version of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro that debuted in 2015.

Plausible? Although it’s likely we’ll be getting a 10.5-inch iPad Pro this spring, we’re not entirely sure about the likelihood of Apple moving production plans to make them available sooner. It seems unlikely that Apple would rush a new device. And Digitimes is not the most reliable of sources. Regardless, it does make sense that Apple would want to use the opening of Apple Park to surprise us with the launch of new products.

Testing around Cupertino?

The rumor: Apple is testing new iPad models around Cupertino, according to Fiksu, a mobile marketing firm that tracks app usage. According to Fiksu’s data logs, some of its client apps are being installed on four new iPads with different model numbers. Before the launch of the iPad Pro, Fiksu spotted similar testing on four new models, as well, that ended up being the 12.9-inch iPad Pro and its 9.7-inch variation. This time, the new iPad models are running either the latest iOS 10.3 beta or a yet-to-be-released version of iOS 11. Additionally, a supply chain analyst told MacRumors that Apple is expected to announce new products the week of March 20.

Plausible? Apple has traditionally held a Spring event to launch new hardware, like the Apple Watch and the iPhone SE. And this year, rumor has it that new iPad Pro sizes are to be expected as Apple’s Spring product launch. However, March 20 is just a few days away and no invitations have gone out, so either Apple will launch these rumored iPads without an accompanying event, or we won’t be getting new iPads until April.

Redesigned 10.5-inch iPad Pro in May or June?

The rumor: Previously, we’ve heard that Apple will expand the iPad Pro to four sizes, including a 7.9-inch version (the same size as the iPad mini), the current 9.7- and 12.9-inch versions, and a new 10.5-inch size. On Friday, MacRumors reported on a DigiTimes claim that the 10.5- and 12.9-inch models could ship in May or June, while the 9.7-inch version would be ready soon after the event in March.

Plausible? Since 10.5-inch iPad Pro is rumored to have pretty major design changes, a later ship date could be a necessary evil. As MacRumors points out, retail supplies of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro are starting to dry up, which does hint at an iPad refresh just around the corner.

A new iPad Pro size

The rumor: When we first heard about a new iPad Pro size, it was 10.1 inches, but a more recent rumor reported in Mac Otakara claims that the new size is in fact 10.5 inches diagonal. Either way, the new in-between iPad may have an edge-to-edge display with no Home button, to keep the same footprint as the current 9.7-inch size.

Plausible? iPad sales haven’t seen much growth lately, so a new size could be just what’s needed to shake up the lineup, but Apple will need to convince buyers that this new model offers some kind of benefit. Perhaps Apple will position the 10.5-inch model futuristic, forward-looking glimpse at where the iOS lineup is heading, while keeping the rest of the lineup at more familiar sizes and price points.

New iPad mini or 7.9-inch iPad Pro?

The rumor: This rumor is promising for iPad mini fans: Japanese site Mac Otakara says that the March event will include a new 7.9-inch iPad. But it sounds like this smaller iPad is part of the Pro line. The 7.9-inch iPad Pro is rumored to have a Smart Connector, True Tone display, and a 12-megapixel rear-facing camera—which will be standard features across the whole iPad Pro lineup. 

Plausible? Absolutely—and this kind of feature parity is frankly a great idea, so people can pick an iPad based on what size and storage they want for their money, not whether they need this feature or that.

What else the March event could hold

The rumor: While the iPad Pro lineup will headline the March event, the same Mac Okatara report claims Apple has a couple other refreshes waiting in the wings, including a 128GB iPhone SE, new Apple Watch bands, and a PRODUCT(RED) version of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, which means half the proceeds go to the Global Fund to fight AIDS.

Plausible? Indeed, new Apple Watch bands should probably be expected at every Apple product launch. The iPhone SE’s popularity took everyone by surprise, but it currently tops out at 64GB, so a larger version could prove quite attractive, even if it doesn’t also come with a faster chip or camera upgrade. And Apple’s PRODUCT(RED) iPods all look incredible, so we love the thought of a shiny red iPhone that helps a worthwhile charity.

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