Apple has been shifting to a much flatter design philosophy for the past few years, having done so initially with the iPad Pro in 2018 and later reaching the iPhone and MacBook. Now, the company’s entry-level $329 iPad might get fruit from those labors, but with some significant IO changes.
I imagine most people will probably pay attention to these leaked CAD renders from MySmartPrice for one reason only: their lack of a headphone jack. The cheap iPad has been the only tablet in Apple’s lineup to retain a 3.5mm port, but it looks like it might disappear with this upcoming model. In addition, the renders depict a USB-C port at the bottom of the device instead of Lightning, eliminating the 10-year-old port from the last iPad to feature it.
The switch to USB-C is obviously a good thing for this iPad since it opens the door for more support for accessories and faster charging solutions in the future, but the lack of a headphone jack will likely rub some people the wrong way. It’s the last tablet Apple sells with the legacy port, and there’s a solid chance you’re not buying wireless headphones if you’re trying to save money by buying the cheapest iPad.
In case you were curious, the rest of these renders are mildly interesting. The sides are flat like the more expensive models, and there’s a camera bulge reminiscent of the iPhone X with a single rear camera and microphone. The display is rumored to remain 10.5-inches, which also means the chunky bezels on the top and bottom of the screen will also remain in place. The Home button is also expected to stick around, even as Touch ID lives in the power button on other iPads and swipe gestures become the primary method of navigation.
As 9to5Mac notes, the new iPad will be slightly thinner than the current generation, although that measurement doesn’t account for the camera bulge on the back. In addition, it’s worth taking these leaks with a grain of salt since there appear to be four stereo speakers on this iPad, something neither the Air or mini have and has thus far remained a premium feature exclusive to the Pro line.
Rumor has it this new entry-level iPad will debut by the end of the year. It’s unclear how much it might cost, but somewhere around $329 is likely. However, I’d assume there will be a price hike if it winds up getting redesigned – that seems to be what Apple likes to do.