A Larger Display iPad Now Makes Perfect Sense

| Hidden Dimensions

“There is nothing as unavoidable as inevitability." -- Anon.

Product lines tend to expand as the technology evolves. The user base grows to include people with new needs. Competition heats up. And so it's only logical that Apple would introduce, after this long hiatus in iPads, a model with a larger display than 9.7-inches.


There are those who say that a larger, heavier iPad would defeat the classic ease of use of a 10-inch or smaller 7-inch tablet. I think that reasoning derives from two factors. First, we've become all too accustomed to the current sizes. Second, we haven't thought deeply about the utility of a larger display.

Who would want a larger iPad?

  • Hospitals: office use vs. mobility
  • Pilots: more readable maps
  • Aircraft maintenance: enlarged schematics
  • Retail sales: better product displays.
  • Hotels: wall and concierge services
  • Engineering:  CAD tools
  • Photographers: more camera megapixels means a need for larger displays
  • Artists: larger working area
  • Medicine: better views of MRIs, X-rays, etc.
  • Magazine editors, readers: full size display, more readable content
  • Newspapers: same as above
  • Science & technology: Visualization and presentation
  • Education: Big screen classroom demos by teachers. No need for HDTVs.

After all, Apple is looking to put the nail in the coffin of PCs by, amongst other things, giving away iWork. If professionals are going to create serious content on iPads, they are going to need a larger canvas. (Here's a concept developed by Mac Rumors, used with permission.)

Image source & credit:  Mac Rumors (used with permission)

Another factor is that an owner of an iPad 2 or 3 or 4 may not be highly motivated to update to a new 9.7-inch iPad 5 in the same way they happily embrace a new iPhone every year. iPads aren't subsidized. However, as Apple made the case for the iPad mini with a smaller display, if Apple provides customers with solid case for a larger display, especially in the enterprise, then the company will capture sales that might never have happened otherwise.

As the saying goes, compete with yourself or someone else will.

What size would it be? For starters, one could start with the notion that an appealing, larger iPad would present roughly twice the surface area of a 9.7-inch iPad. Doing the math, that works out to about a 14 inch diagonal display. But 13 or 15 inches are possibilities.

Battery life. I'm making the assumption that the iPad electronics would stay the same size and the additional volume inside would accomodate a battery that could maintain the customary 10 hours of battery life. One bit of evidence to support my thesis is the rumor about a new Apple 17 watt power supply. That's bigger than needed for a 9.7-inch iPad but not big enough for a MacBook.

Memory. An iPhone 5s only has a gigabyte of RAM, and that has led some observers to scoff at the idea that it needs a 64-bit CPU in order to break the 4 GB RAM limit. But that A7 SoC, or a variant, is definitely going to make it into the next generation iPad, and a large screen iPad, along with advanced 64-bit software tools, for the uses I've cited above could well benefit from more than 4 GB of RAM. It's inevitable.

Luggability. Many would argue that a larger iPad would be too heavy to carry around conveniently all the time. The recent emphasis by Apple (and now Amazon) has been towards lighter iPads, not heavier. My argument is that the product gets used in the manner for which it's designed. 9.7-inch iPads and smaller are very portable. A larger iPad would tend to be used in a more fixed environment, yet still be mobile when needed.

Mac Integration. Most customers don't want iOS-ification. Instead, they want compatibility between Macs and iPads. What that often entails is seeing the same thing, at the same size on an iPad and a Mac. Right now, the smallest Mac has an 11-inch display and the largest iPad has a 9.7-inch display. A 15-inch iPad would match up nicely with the 15-inch MacBooks and lead to potential synergy.

I'm not suggesting that Apple tout a 13/14/15-inch iPad with a keyboard that closes up to protect the display. Microsoft tried that concept and failed, even as the occasional iPad user connectss a Bluetooth keyboard. However, it does open the door to the day when we've figured out how to do all our work on a larger display iPad, close to what we were accustomed to on our MacBooks.


I have written before about the natural evolution of the iPad family in the Post-PC era. I believe that it's inevitable that we'll see iPads with displays larger than 9.7-inches. It's technically feasible; Apple is just waiting for the market potential to mature. I think it's finally arrived. Finally, my thanks to David Marsden for some inspiration and discussion about all this.

"Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” - Albert Einstein

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Mike Weasner

Here’s a scenario where I could use a larger iPad:

Take astrophotos in my observatory with my DSLR & iPhone, and transfer them to the iPad 15” while still in the observatory.
Use Aperture iOS (doesn’t exist, yet) to edit the photos.
Use BBedit for iOS (doesn’t exist, yet) to edit HTML for my web site.
Use Interarchy for iOS (doesn’t exist, yet) to ftp images & web pages to my web site using 4G cell access from the iPad.

I could expand this to:
Tethering the cameras to the iPad 15”.
Using SkySafari for iOS (does exist) to control the telescope.

There is in fact a lot I “could” do with a larger iPad.  But will I be able to actually do all that? Remains to be seen.


Where I work we have a couple of 22” Android “tablets”. Sales loves them for showing pictures and videos at trade shows. The touch screen works well, they don’t need a table clear for a mouse and keyboard, yet they can call up everything they need including WiFi connectivity for e-Mail or accessing files back at the office. Their major complaint is that they are too heavy to carry to the customer. They need to leave them set up on a table, not a big deal as they need to be plugged in to power anyway. The second is that the systems are slow. 32Bit Android, 1GB of RAM, plus an older processor running a 1900x???? screen is not a recipe for good performance. But overall they love them.

A 14” iPad would solve all of these issues.


If this 15” iPad takes off exuberantly in niches like those you suggested, it seems to me quite reasonable to expect that Apple’s trailblazing enterprise market-creating here might serendipitously provide a life-preserver to the drowning (enterprise-forsaken) Windows Surface tablet.


And if this 15” iPad’s possibly niche-creating success does offer room enough for the Windows Surface tablet to find a new lease on life in the enterprise, could this Surface tablet’s success also even rescue Windows 8 from immanently joining Windows Vista in the enterprise’s dustbin?


So we’ll get to laugh even harder at the people who hold up 13-15” iPad to take pictures now? smile

(sorry, it just that holding up an ipad to take pictures always looks so silly to me.) smile

John Martellaro

iVoid. Maybe the large display iPads won’t even have a rear-facing camera.  Just a FaceTime camera.  Just a thought.


Spot on John - this is a pretty reasonable hypothesis that would explain the little hints Apple has given us to date.  Esp the 17 watt power adapter.


John quoted: “There is nothing as unavoidable as inevitability”—Anon.

Are you sure that wasn’t Yogi Berra?!

Lee Dronick

  John quoted: “There is nothing as unavoidable as inevitability”—Anon.

Are you sure that wasn’t Yogi Berra?!

He never said everything that he said. smile

You could use a larger iPad as a sketch pad. When first tried a MicroSoft Surface, now called the PixelSense, I wanted to finger paint with it, but they had no software for that.



Lee - Ha!  Good one!  (The quote, not the tablet!)  wink

Lee Dronick

MacFrogger, he supposedly said something like that.



I have no doubt that there will be folks who will welcome a larger iPad.  All the use cases enumerated though are institutional and professional.  As to whether those numbers are enough to sustain a market for such a device, well then, I present to you, the 17 inch MacBook Pro.  Or the 20” HP laptop.  Or the 21” Dell laptop.


I think giving away iWork has more to do with Microsoft stepping with Windows Phone and Buying Nokia. You step on my turf, I step on yours.


“Pilots: more readable maps”

Not so much. ‘Heavy’ aircraft all have excellent GPS moving maps, usually with a minimum of two in the cockpit.

Lighter aircraft (including smaller corporate jets) have really, really small cockpits. Space is at a premium. Full-size IFR / VFR Sectionals (paper maps which must be in the cockpit) get folded down to something that can fit on your knee, so anything larger that an iPad that you can fix to the yoke, just isn’t going to get used.

**A few years back, I posted to wherever I might be read, and sent emails to Apple, begging them to get into the avionics business. Aircraft panels are a mess of digital and analog that Apple could have (and still could) turned into wonders of simplicity. Monitoring engine/s, location, and flight performance is where most of a pilot’s time is spent, much more than actually flying the plane. Even with automated systems, the pilot’s workload is constant, and horrendous.


Could a larger iPad be used as a 2nd monitor for a Mac?

Bernice Ramsey

You didn’t mention that a larger screen will help visually impaired people to enjoy the same features those, who can see normally, take for granted.  I have an age related vision problem and when I use my iPad I have to use reading glasses and sometimes that is not quite enough.  I do not like caring a computer that has to be opened up and balanced.  A larger screen iPad would entice me into buying a new iPad even though I mine is new.

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