An alleged CAD drawing published Monday morning by Twitter account OnLeaks, managed and run by reliable French leakster Steve Hemmerstoffer, apparently shows a new location of Apple’s redesigned Smart Connector on the upcoming iPad Pro models for 2018.
The pill-shaped port appears to be relocated to the back of the tablet, near the Lightning port at the bottom. Hemmerstoffer cautioned he couldn’t vouch for the accuracy of the CAD drawing give the odd location of the supposedly redesigned Smart Connector interface.
On the current iPad Pro models, the Smart Connector port is found on the curved edge alongside the tablet’s lefthand side. A redesigned connector would presumably permit 2018 iPad Pro owners to use a keyboard attachment in portrait. It’s unclear if Apple will ensure compatibility with existing Smart Connector accessories by also adding an existing magnetic attachment to the device’s left side, like with the current iPad Pro models.
Here’s some context.
Japanese blog Mac Otakara recently said that 2018’s iPad Pro refresh would include perks like smaller bodies, an overhauled Smart Connector, no headphone jack and a TrueDepth camera. The site suggested Face ID on these tablets would only work in landscape mode despite claiming in May that iOS 12 would let Face ID function in both portrait and landscape.
On iPhone X, Face ID is limited to portrait mode.
Smart Connector made its debut on the original 12.9-inch iPad Pro back in 2015. It has since expanded to all iPad Pro models. The three-dotted port is basically a handy magnetic connection that provides both power and data transfer (at USB 3.0 speeds) simultaneously.
As a result, Smart Connector accessories are thinner as they require no batteries.
So far, the magnetic connector has been used for Apple’s own Smart Keyboard accessory for the iPad Pro family, as well as for a handful of third-party attachments like Logitech’s Create backlit keyboard case for iPad Pro shown on the video embedded above.
So, if the new Smart Connector is actually relocated to the bottom rear of the device and is actually incompatible with the existing family of Smart Connector accessories, does that mean we’re going to have to purchase new keyboard covers for 2018 iPad Pros?
That’s probably a yes because the upcoming tablets should adopt a major redesign and be smaller and skinnier, meaning existing keyboards and covers wouldn’t work anyway.
So far, Smart Connector has meant very little.
Despite big promises, it saw a handful of uses with literally a few third-party accessories available on the market. Fast Company has learned that long wait times and pretty expensive components are to be blamed for Smart Connector’s slow adoption.