There’s a high chance that we’ll see a new iPad Pro 2022 before the year is done, but the main ‘upgrade’ might not be to the screen or chipset. Rather, it might be to the connectors, with the current three-pin Smart Connector possibly being replaced with a pair of four-pin connectors.
That’s according to “reliable sources in China,” speaking to Macotakara (opens in new tab), in a report spotted by 9to5Mac (opens in new tab). Apparently, the upcoming iPad Pro 11 (2022) and iPad Pro 12.9 (2022) will both have the same housing designs as the current models, but with 4-pin connectors on the “top and bottom side edges.”
That wording is slightly ambiguous, especially as this isn’t primarily an English language site, so we’re not certain whether they mean the top and bottom of the back when held in portrait or when held in landscape, but it sounds like one or the other.
The report also doesn’t specifically state whether these new connectors would be instead of or as well as the existing three-pin Smart Connector, but we imagine they’d be used instead. Otherwise, that’s a whole lot of connectors.
We’d take this with a pinch of salt though, as it’s an odd claim, especially when we’d previously heard the iPad Pro 2022 might support MagSafe – which itself could seem like overkill if there are also two Smart Connectors. And with MagSafe using a five-pin connector, that’s not what they’re talking about here.
What the extra pin could be used for is uncertain as well, though the report speculates that it could be used to assist in powering peripherals. The existing Smart Connector already does this, however, so perhaps they mean more power could be provided.
We’re also not sure how useful it would be to have two of these connectors, given that it’s mostly just keyboards that make use of the current Smart Connector, so there aren’t a whole lot of use cases where two accessories could usefully be attached at the same time – unless Apple has new kinds of accessories planned.
This rumor really raises more questions than it answers, and we’d therefore refrain from putting a lot of weight behind it, but it’s certainly intriguing. Though it comes with one very big potential downside.
Analysis: old accessories could be incompatible
The biggest potential issue with this move is that it could render accessories – like the current Smart Keyboard and Magic Keyboard – incompatible with the new iPad Pro.
That’s something you expect to happen when the sizes change, but with these upcoming models reportedly being the same as their predecessors, it would be a shame if all-new accessories are needed – especially given how expensive these peripherals can be.
Of course, even if this rumor is right – which is a big ‘if’ – it doesn’t guarantee that current Smart Connector accessories won’t work. They might remain compatible with this new four-pin version, or perhaps the old three-pin connector will remain as well, but incompatibility is definitely a worry.
With Apple also rumored to be switching from Lightning to USB-C on the iPhone, perhaps as soon as next year, we could see Apple fans having to replace almost all of their accessories in the space of a year, assuming both rumors pan out. So this could be an even more expensive period for iDevice users than usual.
Still, many of the best iPads aren’t iPad Pros, meaning you could always save some money by upgrading to a cheaper model.