It’s been rumored fairly regularly in recent months that Apple wants to remove the iPhone’s iconic home button and integrate its functionality into one seamless front display. But it turns out the iPad might be the first iOS device to undergo this significant change. 9to5Mac spotted a new Makotakara report that claims Apple’s upcoming 10.9-inch iPad won’t feature any physical home button at all — a design decision that will allow a larger screen to fit into the same-sized footprint as today’s 9.7-inch iPad Pro. Instead, the company could put the home button’s functions (including Touch ID) underneath the display glass like some smartphone makers are already doing.
The next iPad will also include thinner bezels, according to the report, which notes that these outward upgrades will come with one tradeoff: increased thickness. The 10.9-inch iPad will measure 7.5 millimeters thick, Makotakara claims, which is about the same as Apple’s original iPad Air from 2013. The uptick in product depth is likely necessary to make room for the iPad’s battery and the display technology that supports Apple Pencil.
Previous reports, including one from the reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, have suggested that this larger iPad would have a 10.5-inch screen. But Makotakara also has a strong track record when it comes to Apple hardware rumors, and they’re saying it’ll be 10.9 inches. This time, anyway. Back in October, the Japanese site guessed that it’d be a 10.1-inch display, so who knows! Gotta love gadget rumors.
The home button’s removal is the bigger aspect of this story — assuming that part proves accurate. With Apple expected to launch this iPad in the first half of 2017, it could help ease consumers through the transition months before the next iPhone. The iPhone 7 introduced a capacitive home button that doesn’t actually move when pressed, but it sounds like the iPad might skip that approach altogether.