Two bits of news have emerged for anyone excited about Apple’s upcoming 12-inch-plus iPad Pro. Sources from the Chinese supply chain suggest the tablet will come equipped with Oxide LCD display technology, while a separate report from The Wall Street Journal (paywall) claims Apple is considering adding USB 3.0 ports (among others) to the devices.
What is unanimously agreed upon is that we are unlikely to see the plus-size iPad until the second half of the year, with a Digitimes report suggesting it may not even go into mass production until the third quarter of 2015.
If the rumors are anything to go by, it’ll be worth waiting for, though.
On the Oxide LCD front, today’s report claims Apple has been assessing different panel technologies, including a-Si, TFT LCD and Oxide LCD, in terms of cost versus performance, and has only recently decided to go forward using the Oxide technology.
Oxide LCD tech has higher electron mobility than traditional LCD panels, meaning they are faster and more power-efficient than the screens currently used in Apple’s iPads. This would be essential for a larger iPad, which Apple would presumably want to keep as slim as the current iPad Air 2 (so no thicker battery).
Sharp, LG Display and Samsung Display are all rumored to have sent Apple display samples, with Sharp tabbed as likely to become the main supplier based on its experience in Oxide production. LG Display will likely get a lesser quantity of the orders to ensure production stays smooth.
Limited test production is said to begin around May, with mass-production following in July and August.
The Wall Street Journal meanwhile claims Apple is considering adding USB 3.0 technology to the device, thereby allowing users to transfer data up to 10 times as quickly as current USB ports. This would contrast with current-generation iPads, which don’t feature any USB port at all. On top of this, Apple is also said to be considering adding ports for a keyboard and a mouse.
“Apple has continued to rework some of the features of the larger iPad,” a source told the newspaper. “It is now considering the faster technology for data synchronization between the larger iPad and other computing devices. Apple is also working on technology to speed up the iPad charging time, but it remains uncertain if the final design will have these new features.”
While there’s no guarantee these ports will show up in the iPad Pro as shipped, easy connectivity for a mouse and keyboard, plus USB 3.0, would be useful in an enterprise context, which is where a lot of Apple’s attention is focused at the moment.
Whether Apple can turn around its faltering iPad business remains to be seen, though. Sources who spoke with Digitimes claimed iPad shipments are expected to be in the vicinity of 45 million in 2015.