What’s the iPad’s Next Trick?

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Think of the song “Beast of Burden” by the Rolling Stones.

Got it running in your head? Ok, continue.

Is it thin enough?
Is it fast enough?
Is the display contrasty enough?
I’m not to blind to seeeeeeee…

If singing about the next generation iPad, this would be your song. Or so it is with Benzinga’s Ashraf Eassa in his piece:
What’s Next for Apple Inc.’s iPad?

What could possibly be next for a device that has run out of room for ideas? Well, how about a device that addresses the shortcomings of the current models? That seems to be what keeps Apple-ites buying a new disposable electronic device lately, because Apple has reached the limit of what it can do with iOS, without bloating the OS to an unusable size.

Can’t make the software more efficient? Then ramp up the hardware with a newer faster Processor. Cruddy display? The next model will improve it. Not enough memory? Toss your current model, get the model with more at a price that will floor you. Wifi obsolete? So is your device. Get the new one. And so it goes.

So here is Ashraf’s wish list:

iPad mini due for a complete makeover
The iPad mini 3 was a huge disappointment to many; Apple essentially took the iPad mini 2, included Touch ID, and offered the device in gold. It didn’t, to my knowledge, bring any other improvements to the table.

This year, I suspect Apple will release a more compelling upgrade. A move to the A8 chip found inside of the iPhone 6/6 Plus would be nice, although the A8X would certainly be welcome. A move from 1 gigabyte of memory to 2 gigabytes, as we saw in the move from the iPad Air to the iPad Air 2, seems like a sensible move as well.

Additionally, a major criticism of the iPad mini 3 is the display. The display offers a very high resolution, but according to DisplayMate, it’s severely lacking in many key areas. As a result of a narrow color gamut, DisplayMate says the colors on the device are “visibly washed out” and “distorted.”

I’d be absolutely floored if Apple choses to ignore display quality on the next iPad mini.

I also expect Apple to transition from the old 802.11n Wi-Fi found in the iPad mini 2 and 3 to at least single-stream 802.11ac. Finally, I expect Apple to slim down the tablet’s chassis from the relatively thick 7.5 millimeters (compared to the iPad Air 2, which is only 6.1 millimeters thick) it measures in at today.

In other words, toss it and start from scratch.

iPad 3? Same story, faster processor, more memory, better display.

iPad Air 3 doesn’t need as much hardware work
The industrial design of the iPad Air 2 is superb, and I’m not convinced the company needs to make the device any thinner at this point. The improvements I hope to see aren’t on the industrial design side of things.

One “obvious” improvement I’m expecting is an enhanced applications processor that will likely be called the A9X. The chip will surely have faster CPU cores, offer significantly enhanced graphics, and even more memory bandwidth — the generational changes one would typically expect.

Apple might choose to go from two gigabytes of memory to, say, three or four in the next-generation iPad, but I don’t think that upgrade will be necessary this time around.

Another area I think Apple will focus on is the display. In moving from the iPad Air to the iPad Air 2, Apple may have used the same display, according to AnandTech. The display is good, but AnandTech’s review suggests there’s a pretty big gap in quality/performance between the display found on the iPhone 6 and the iPad Air 2.

Given that the iPad Air 2 requires a much larger display than the iPhone 6/6 Plus do, it’s probably cost-prohibitive to include a display of similar quality to modern iPhones on an iPad. That said, given that Apple needs to encourage customers to buy new iPads, I’m expecting a sizable jump in display performance in moving from the iPad Air 2 to the iPad Air 3.

The iPad Air 2 appears to support dual-stream 802.11ac, which is quite fast, so I’m not expecting Apple to upgrade the Wi-Fi in going to the iPad Air 3.

So you can make it thinner, faster, give it more memory, a better display, but that’s about it, as it will still run iOS.
You can wish for it to run more than one app at a time and other fancy things like BlackBerry 10 will do, but it’s not going to happen.
And wish Ashraf does:

Remember that one of the biggest criticisms of the iPad Air 2 from the WSJ’s Joanna Stern was that the iPad Air 2 can only display one app at a time. This, she noted, is in contrast to competing tablets such as the Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ) Surface and the Samsung (NASDAQOTH: SSNLF ) Galaxy Tab.

If Apple introduces more aggressive multitasking/multi-window functionality, it would not only increase the demands on the processor/memory (potentially catalyzing iPad upgrades), but it would help further differentiate the iPad experience from, say, the iPhone experience.

iOS is SOL and EOL.

Get a BlackBerry 10.

Blackjack

I am a long time BlackBerry user and fan. Beginning with the 7520, I have recognized the value of subtle productivity enhancements in BlackBerry devices for business communication and have never since strayed. Even when the iPhone took the market by storm, I was unimpressed, because it did nothing to help my business needs. Currently enjoying my one handed dream phone, the Classic! BB10 with a toolbelt! Today I contribute to UTB whenever I feel that I can help enlighten someone on the benefits of using BlackBerry over any other platform.

  • Anthony

    I believe Apple will make a gold wrist strap for the iPad mini to make a “Watch” with a larger display. locco_smiley_32

  • razrrob

    So most of the competing Tablets use 8MP cameras and Apple wants to go to 12 MP? What is this some type of android spec war?

    While they are fawning all over themselves about this upgrade, I wonder how much they will soak the buyer?

  • Excellent BJ!

    It’s hard to tell who I’m reading anymore, you, Biggs, or Brad!

    If you gave me an iPad for free, I don’t know that I would use it. I wouldn’t want to get tied into their ecosystem in any way or have anything of mine in iTunes.

  • bartron

    Having used the iPad, partially to try to get it to do stuff my BlackBerry can do, I can honestly say that it’s garbage. My mom loved her old eMac and found OSX to be very intuitive. But she hates iOS, and finds it unintuitive and unorganized. She’s absolutely right.

    I really, really wish BlackBerry would come out with a tablet, so I can get her one to replace that iPad junk that she has.

    A few weeks ago, I read an article that called the iPad a “flop”, saying the Apple Watch will be a “flop” like the iPad.

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