Apple might remove the headphone jack from its next entry-level iPad

Apple has gradually removed the headphone jack from its entire iPhone lineup and several iPads like the iPad Pro, iPad Air, and iPad Mini. And now, the company seems poised to eliminate it from the iPad altogether: according to purported renders of an upcoming redesign of the entry-level model, the 3.5mm connector is about to be a goner there as well. It’s nowhere to be found on either the top or bottom of the device.

MySmartPrice says the CAD renders are sourced from a case maker working on accessories for what will be the 10th-generation iPad. It’s a substantial redesign from the classic iPad design that has been left largely untouched for years; Apple increased the display size slightly in 2017 and has made other internal hardware upgrades, but the overall look has remained consistent. It appears that’s about to change, with the new iPad sharing the same flat-sides aesthetic as recent iPhones, iPads, the 14-inch / 16-inch MacBook Pro, and 2022 MacBook Air. Both 9to5Mac and MacRumors reported on the renders. But as always, treat these easily faked images with a healthy amount of skepticism.

The home button remains present, which means so do the sizable bezels above and below the display. MySmartPrice reports that the screen should be larger than the current 10.2-inch model, and there’s a redesigned camera on the iPad’s back reminiscent of the module from the iPhone X. The revamped iPad has a USB-C port, which would complete the transition for Apple’s tablet line.

These renders also include quad speakers, and that’s where I get somewhat doubtful of what we’re seeing: only the iPad Pro is currently outfitted with four speakers, so if this pans out, the base-level iPad would be leapfrogging both the iPad Air and Mini in the audio department.

That strikes me as unlikely, but it could also serve as Apple’s justification for nixing the headphone jack from a product used in many classrooms and other scenarios where support for affordable wired headphones has been meaningful. This is a decision that would not go over well with many teachers and parents, and part of me hopes what we’re seeing isn’t accurate — at least for this aspect of the design. But if it is, you’d be able to use a USB-C-to-3.5mm adapter as a fallback option.

The 10th-generation iPad is likely to be announced this fall, though it’s unclear whether a new design will also come with a higher starting price than the current $329. Will Apple remove the 3.5mm connector from its entry-level iPad and leave Macs as the company’s only hardware to still include one? We should find out sometime in the next couple months.

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