A refresh of the iPad Pro lineup slated for the end of 2020 may not arrive until well into 2021, a report claims, with COVID-19 affecting the supply chain sufficiently to delay the launch of a 5G-equipped model into the next year.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has caused many issues to the Apple supply chain, with assembly partners struggling with production levels due to a lack of on-hand employees. The delays returning to normal have seemingly caused Apple to change its production schedules, with the first major casualty being the iPad Pro.
According to China's Economic Daily News, Apple had previously planned to bring out a 12.9-inch iPad Pro with 5G in the second half of 2020. It is now claimed the product's launch has been rescheduled into the spring of 2021.
The Economic Daily News has a good track record when it pertains to Apple's supply chain. However, it has a mixed track record of when predicting Apple's release plans, or detailing specific features. Tuesday's report is more of a supply chain report, than a feature-related one.
The tablet was supposedly the first to have 5G connectivity, arriving around the same time as the 2020 iPhone range which is also believed to be adopting the communications technology. It is likely an iPad Pro refresh to include 5G would have helped Apple promote adoption of 5G connections within its customer base, as well as enabling it to use more 5G modems and benefit from economies of scale.
The model is also anticipated to be equipped with a Mini LED display, with reports in February and March pointing not only to the screen technology's usage, but also an arrival in late 2020. Reports at the time pointed to an expansion of production for mini LED components ahead of Apple issuing its orders, though it was unclear if the coronavirus impacted production in that field.
Apple has already refreshed the iPad Pro lineup in March, with a small specification bump and the gaining of rear LiDAR being relatively minor improvements to the product range.