Leaked iPad Pro schematics reveal mysterious new connector

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2018 iPad Pro concept art
Not today!
Photo: Álvaro Pabesio

Apple is expected to make drastic improvements to the iPad Pro this fall to introduce edge-to-edge screens and Face ID. But there could be some unexpected changes, too.

Leaked schematics that give us an early peek at one model hint at a mysterious new connector on the back of the device.

After the unveiling of the iPhone X last September, we’ve all been excited to see what changes Apple will make to this year’s iPad Pro lineup. But recent rumors have suggested not all those changes will be good.

An earlier report from reliable Japanese blog Macotakara claims Apple will finally do away with the iPad’s headphone jack to save space, while the Smart Connector could be relocated to accommodate Face ID.

Schematics reveal iPad Pro changes

These schematics, published by @OnLeaks, seem to corroborate at least one of those claims. They show a mysterious sensor or connector on the rear of the iPad, just above the Lightning port.

Leaked 2018 iPad Pro schematics
Is this a Smart Connector or something new entirely?
Photo: OnLeaks

Relocating the Smart Connector would allow the new iPad Pro to work in portrait mode when connected to a Smart Keyboard. That would negate the need to rotate the tablet when unlocking it with Face ID. (Apple’s facial recognition tech, introduced with iPhone X, doesn’t yet work in landscape mode.)

But is that a good move?

Don’t move the Smart Connector, Apple!

Landscape mode is almost always best when using an iPad for productivity — especially if you regularly use two apps side-by-side in Split View. Multitasking is nowhere near as good in portrait mode.

Apple could upset iPad owners if it forces them to use the device in portrait mode when they connect a Smart Keyboard. Portrait mode certainly proves useful in some situations. But not when you need to get real work done.

Of course, Apple could place Smart Connectors on both the bottom and the side of the device so that we can choose which orientation we prefer. However, that seems extremely unlikely. Alternatively, Apple could make Face ID work in landscape mode, which would solve a big problem.

We should remember, however, that this is just a rumor. The connector in these schematics doesn’t even look like a Smart Connector, so it could be something else entirely. But what?

Could it instead be a rear-facing Touch ID sensor that lets you unlock the iPad with your fingertip when in landscape mode? For now, we’ll have to wait to find out more.