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New rumor that iPad Pros could launch with M4 chip on May 7, but we don't buy it

Short reason: the M3 is barely six months old. Long reason: read on.

Published onApril 28, 2024

Apple iPad Pro M2 2022 logo and apple pencil
Oliver Cragg / Android Authority
  • A prominent Apple leaker says that the iPad Pros launching on May 7 could have the as-yet-unreleased Apple M4 chipset.
  • This would be an unexpected development as the M3 launched just six months ago.
  • For this and other reasons, we don’t buy this rumor. We expect the iPad Pros to launch with an M3 variant.

When it comes to Apple leaks, few leakers are trusted as much as Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman. However, even the best leakers can be incorrect, and we think Gurman is likely wrong about today’s rumor.

In Gurman’s weekly Power On newsletter today — which focuses on Apple-related news from the past week as well as new leaks and rumors — he states that “there is a strong possibility that the chip in the new iPad Pro will be the M4, not the M3.” For those unaware, Apple is throwing a “Let Loose” event on May 7, which is widely expected to include the debut of a new iPad Pro refresh, which last saw an update in October 2022. Up until today, pretty much everyone expected these iPads to come with Apple’s M3 processor, which launched six months ago.

Gurman has a great track record, but we think he is very likely wrong about this one for a few reasons. Here’s why we fully expect the new iPad Pros to launch with M3 processors and not a new M4 processor, as Gurman suggests:

  • The M3 is barely six months old: This is the biggest reason we don’t expect an M4 release on May 7. In the six months since Apple launched the M3 series, it has announced MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models with the chip. Now, six months into it, you expect us to believe that Apple would launch a better chip in the iPad Pro series? What would that mean for all those brand new MacBooks? Would Apple then quickly refresh them with the M4? That seems very unlikely, not to mention upsetting for anyone who invested in one of those new Macs.
  • Apple silicon gets more prominent launches: By Gurman’s own admission (in the same Power On newsletter!), the May 7 launch will be a minor thing. He said, “I expect [the “Let Loose” event] to be relatively brief — under an hour — given there isn’t a lot of material to cover other than iPads.” If Apple is launching a new silicon series along with these iPad Pros, then there would likely be more going on. For the M3 series, Apple launched those right after it launched the new iPhones in October 2023. For the M2, Apple launched that series at WWDC 2022. And, for the M1, Apple gave it a dedicated launch event in November 2020 that also saw the integration of the chip into a new MacBook Air, Mac Mini, and MacBook Pro. It just doesn’t make sense that Apple would demote an M4 release to a quick iPad launch in May.
  • M-series launches usually follow A-series: In every instance so far, the latest M-series chip has followed the launch of a new A-series chip — the chips that appear in iPhones. We haven’t seen the A18 yet because the iPhone 16 series doesn’t land until September. Once again, launching a new M chip before a new A chip just doesn’t make sense for Apple.

That all being said, I will readily admit that there are reasons why launching a new M-series processor on May 7 wouldn’t be a bad idea. Apple has a lot of things to cover at WWDC in June, such as iOS 18, the company’s AI strategy (whatever it may be), new versions of its other major operating systems like macOS, watchOS, tvOS, etc., and possible hardware refreshes (there are still plenty of Macs that don’t have M3 yet, including the Mac Studio, Mac Pro, and Mac Mini). It could be that Apple’s plate is already full for WWDC, but it wants to get new processors out ASAP in response to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X announcements, the upcoming Microsoft Surface event, and Google I/O, which happens just one week after the “Let Loose” launch.

There’s also the somewhat-negative response to the M3 series. Most tech reviewers think the jump from M2 to M3 isn’t significant enough to warrant an upgrade, which might be hurting Apple’s Mac sales. Speed-launching an M4 could be a response to that. Of course, this still wouldn’t explain what Apple would do about the MacBook Pro and Air models stuck with M3 processors both in the hands of consumers and on store shelves.

We still don’t see Apple launching a new series of chips at the event, though. We expect there to be new iPad Pros powered by an M3 variant, a new Apple Pencil (possibly with haptic feedback for the first time), and that’s about it.


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