We’ve been wondering what, if anything, Apple will do to make its forthcoming low-cost iPad stand out (aside from the price). And now we might have an answer: it could support the Pencil stylus. As of now, only iPad Pro models support it.
The rumor comes from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who wrote in a note today obtained by MacRumors, that “the new low-price 9.7-inch iPad … will likely support Apple Pencil.” Kuo believes that Apple may want to do this as a way to “differentiate it more from low-price Android tablets.”
Kuo’s been one of the most reliable voices in Apple rumors when it comes to hardware, but it’s not clear how definitive he is in this case. He doesn’t, for instance, say that the new iPad will have a display with a high-refresh rate (like the Pro models), which would be a clear sign that they’ll gain stylus support. So it’s possible he’s just making an educated guess here.
Still, it’s a decent guess. Apple is supposed to announce the iPad at an event next Tuesday, and its invitation to the event was clearly doodled with the Pencil. On top of that, stylus support is common among the type of low-cost Chromebooks that end up in schools; if Apple wants to compete with them feature for feature, enabling stylus support would be a natural choice.
There is one other possibility here: in his note, Kuo speaks of the “new low-price 9.7-inch iPad” as the successor to last year’s iPad. It’s entirely possible that Apple will have multiple cheap models of iPad — one at the rumored price of $259 for education, and a refreshed model of the existing one priced at $329 that gains Pencil support. That would explain Kuo’s suggestion that it’ll compete with Android tablets (which aren’t really a thing in schools), and the fact that he says mass production will begin in the second quarter. If Apple plans to announce new iPads tomorrow, it’s very likely production has already started.