Apple has just announced a new iPad Pro. Two of the suckers, in fact.
Both tablets offer larger displays, potentially console-rivalling power, and a fancy new design. As great as these slates look, though, I feel Apple missed an opportunity.
There's a glaring omission in the company's tablet range: an iPad Mini Pro. But why on Earth would you want such a thing?
Sizing things upWe've long recommended the iPhone as the best mobile gaming device on the market, and generally the biggest model you can afford. Right now that means the new iPhone XS Max.
Obviously iOS is the place to go for the latest mobile games, but the size thing is equally simple: bigger screens are generally more fun to play on.
So why not just grab an iPad Pro and be done with it? These tend to be both larger and more powerful than their smartphone counterparts, after all.
This might sound like some Goldilocks-level nonsense here, but the Pro models cross that hard-to-define point where too much mobility is sacrificed to be an unqualified blanket recommendation. You could call it our pocket test, given this website's name.
Mini marvelOne particular iPad got mighty close to offering the best of both worlds. We're talking, of course, about the iPad Mini.
Initially launched six years ago, the iPad Mini offered all the benefits of the tablet form factor in a compact 7.9-inch display. It wasn't exactly pocket-friendly, but it was a heck of a lot more viable to lug it around and whip it out in public.
Apple still offers an iPad Mini, by the way. The iPad Mini 4 was released in September 2015.
That means that the current model of this brilliant in-betweener tablet has roughly the same capabilities as the iPhone 6. A cutting edge portable gaming device it is not.
It's the little things that matterThat's why we's love to see a brand new souped-up iPad Mini. Just think of it: the recently announced Pro family packs four punchy stereo speakers, vibrant displays with silky-smooth 120Hz refresh rates, and the kind of GPU power that gives the Xbox One S a run for its money (according to Apple's boasts, at least).
Imagine that packed into a slimmed-down device with roughly the same surface area as the Nintendo Switch, only significantly thinner.
Of course, you might question (as many have) why Apple would still need a 7.9-inch tablet when it now sells a 6.5-inch smartphone. On the surface of things, that would look like a fair question.
For one thing, though, an inch and a half goes a long way in portable devices. For another, much of the iPhone XS Max's screen space is impractically used. That notch and those exaggerated curved corners aren't particularly game-friendly.
Conversely, the iPad's squarer, more uniform 4:3 display offers a much broader canvass for developers to paint on. Put it this way: we still wouldn't want to play FTL or Football Manager Touch 2019 on any of Apple's phones.
Counting the cost
Then there's the matter of cost. Prices for the new iPad Pro range start from £769/$799. Start. The larger model is £100/$100 more.
Now imagine a smaller, cheaper option at £669/$699, or maybe even cheaper. It's still far removed from the sub-£500/$500 days, but it's not out of sight.
I don't know if Apple will ever return to its iPad Mini family. There are rumours that it's not done with the range, but even then it seems likely that it won't be a souped-up Pro model.
But I can't help pining for a miniature Pro-level powerhouse with the form of a Switch and the guts of an Xbox One.