Apple May Bring Major Design Changes To Entry-Level iPad

While we're barely a month away from the debut of Apple's latest and greatest iPhones, those aren't the only exciting new devices we'll likely see this fall season. Of course, there will be new Macs and new iPad Pros heading our way, but these might be simple incremental upgrades from their predecessors. One device, however, could end up turning heads and give consumers one more option to consider when buying an Apple tablet. The entry-level iPad has always felt and looked abandoned, having been left behind in some ways. The 10th-generation iPad might finally change that, bringing it up to par with the rest of the brood, and finally closing a chapter on Apple's migration away from old ports and connectors.

The base iPad model has, of course, seen significant upgrades over the years. Despite its role as Apple's cheapest tablet, the model recently gained support for the first-gen Apple Pencil. Still, the iPad's design definitely looks dated, and its features are just as old, as well. Things could finally be changing for the better, though — or worse, depending on your perspective. The model that'll likely arrive next quarter is expected to change the game for iPads, finally giving Apple's tablets a more unified look and set of features.

According to 9to5Mac, the next entry-level iPad will have the flat edges that the rest of the iPad line now wears. A bit ironically, this is the first time that the base iPad will have flat edges since the original iPad launched more than a decade ago. That said, the iPad will reportedly still have the classic fat bezels all around and, curiously, the Touch ID sensor.

Apple Pencil and headphone jack in jeopardy

The changes aren't skin deep, of course, and the next base iPad is expected to sport changes that may make it more appealing to the casual consumer. At the top of that list is the anticipated switch from the Lightning connector to USB-C, something that all other iPad models have already received. This would not only open up the entry-level iPad to more use cases like hooking up external displays but would also break compatibility with plenty of accessories, particularly the first-gen Apple Pencil.

The first Apple Pencil charges using a Lightning port, but with this connector gone from the upcoming iPad, what would no longer be possible. Given its expected switch to flat edges, it's likely that the iPad 10 will support the second-gen Apple Pencil. That, in turn, means the days of the original Apple Pencil are numbered, and it wouldn't be surprising if Apple immediately halts its production.

With the changes to the design and Lightning port would also come a change to the one other legacy connector that has been present since the first iPad: the 3.5mm headphone jack, which will supposedly be making its exit from the iPad this year. If that rumor proves true, Apple's transition away from wired headphones — at least as far as a direct connection goes — will be complete. These changes also mean that accessory makers will have to alter their designs, as well, especially case manufacturers. The magnetic Smart Cover's design, for example, no longer has a place in this flat-edged world.