The rumors of new iPad Pros keep swirling. Most recently we got a report from 9to5Mac saying that the new iPads would break with past models in several ways, including support for a new Apple Pencil, removing a physical home button in favor of Face ID, replacing the Smart Connector with a new magnetic connector, and replacing Lightning with USB-C.

Would this the beginning of a transition away from Lightning? Or is it another way for Apple to reinforce that the iPad Pro is more like a computer and less like an iPhone? Moving the iPad Pro to USB-C is potentially a huge move—though it’s also potentially a whole lot of nothing. Let’s take a look at the possibilities.

Worst case: New dongles for everyone

The worst transition I can imagine is one that’s entirely symbolic. What if the iPad Pro has a USB-C connector, but support for external devices is largely unchanged from current models? The 9to5Mac report suggests that at least one new external device will be supported, namely 4K resolution video screens. (Current iPad models can’t drive displays that large.)
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Presumably, USB-C on the iPad Pro would mean you can use a USB-C power adapter from a MacBook or MacBook Pro.

That’s a nice feature if you want to use your iPad to display a presentation on a 4K projector or show a 4K HDR video on a TV, but since iOS doesn’t let you control apps on an external display (it’s only available for mirroring or as a secondary display in an app like Keynote), it seems like a strange choice to break compatibility with all previous iOS accessories.

Now, for people with existing modern Mac laptops, the iPad Pro will gain compatibility. You’d presumably be able to use the same charger used for the MacBook and MacBook Pro on the iPad Pro. If you’ve invested in adapters and dongles for USB-C devices, those should also work on any USB-C iPad.

If you haven’t yet bought those adapters, though, buying a new iPad Pro will involve buying a new set. (Or, alternately, a new set of cables with USB-C on one end and a different USB connector on the other.)

Also, if a different rumor is true and these new iPad Pros are also omitting a wired headphone jack, users will need to deal with an adapter to get wired headphones working.

Best case: New features for everyone

Looking on the bright side, perhaps adding USB-C to the iPad Pro will be accompanied by expanded support for external USB devices in future versions of iOS. Right now iOS support for external devices is extremely limited when you compare it with the external devices that “real computers” like the Mac support.