There was no iPad Air 3 in 2015, instead we got the iPad mini 4 and iPad Pro. But we might not have to wait until the end of 2016 to see it, with Apple rumoured to be announcing its new flagship slate very soon.
Not only could it almost be here, but there are numerous leaks and rumours about the design, specs and features of the iPad Air 3, including a possible name change to the iPad Pro 9.7. Here’s everything we know so far.
Usually Apple launches its new iPads towards the end of the year in September or October, but it’s heavily rumoured that we’ll see the iPad Air 3, or iPad Pro 9.7 as it might be called, as soon as March.
We can even go one better and say that it’s likely to be announced on the 21st of March. That’s according to Buzzfeed, which previously pointed to the 15th of March.
It’s unlikely to hit shelves on that day, but could go on sale in late March or early April. When it does there’s no confirmation of what it will cost, but it’s likely to echo the Apple iPad Air 2’s launch price. That would put it at £399 for a 16GB Wi-Fi-only model, rising all the way up to £659 for a 128GB version with Wi-Fi and mobile data.
The iPad Air 3 is likely to have a 9.7-inch screen, just like the iPad Air 2. However, it’s rumoured in some circles that the resolution will be increasing from 1536 x 2048 to 2334 x 3112, which would make its screen far sharper, bringing the pixel density from 264ppi to roughly 401 pixels per inch.
But we’re sceptical of this. That would be a huge jump in resolution, far bigger than the yearly improvements Apple tends to go for. It would also allow it to dwarf the iPad Pro’s pixel density, a slate which launched recently and stuck with 264 pixels per inch.
So we reckon it’s more likely that the resolution on the iPad Air 3 will stay at 1536 x 2048, with a pixel density of 264 pixels per inch.
That’s disappointing, but it doesn’t mean we won’t see improvements to the brightness or contrast or other aspects of the screen. Sadly, it’s also rumoured that the iPad Air 3 won’t feature 3D Touch.
This is unlikely to change much, with an aluminium shell likely, while dimensions of 240 x 169.6 x 6.15 have been outed by Engadget. Those are almost exactly the same dimensions as the iPad Air 2.
If anything it could be even slimmer than the iPad Air 2 though, with other rumours claiming that the iPad Air 3 will be just 5mm thick. There’s also talk of water and dust resistance, though we’re not convinced Apple would add that.
If it is thinner it could still be strong though, as there’s a good chance Apple would use tough 7000-series aluminium to build it.
It’s expected that the iPad Air 3 will come in Apple’s standard Space Grey, Gold and Silver colour options, but there’s some talk that Rose Gold could also be added to the mix.
It’s recently been rumoured that the iPad Air 3 could have almost exactly the same specs as the iPad Pro, along with a possible name change to the iPad Pro 9.7.
In which case you can look forward to a 2.26GHz dual-core Apple A9X processor and a massive 4GB of RAM.
That sounds believable, though the iPad Air 2 only has 2GB of RAM, so it’s possible that Apple will split the difference and give the new slate 3GB.
Assuming it launches in March the Apple iPad Air 3 is bound to run iOS 9, just like current iOS devices.
However, there’s talk that the battery could be smaller than the one in the iPad Air 2, which would be a shame but would make sense if Apple really is slimming the slate down. Hopefully it’s at least made it as efficient as possible.
We doubt many people buy an iPad with the intention of heavily using the camera, but it’s good to know that Apple may have at least slightly improved the snapper for this outing. Rumours suggest it will stick with an 8MP camera on the back and a 1.2MP one on the front, just like we saw on the iPad Air 2 and iPad Pro.
However, the rear camera will apparently be gaining a flash, so it should be better in low-light.
We’re likely to see a bunch of new features on the iPad Air 3, or at least features inherited from the iPad Pro. Supposedly like that slate it will have four speakers, for top quality stereo sound, at least as far as tablet sound is concerned.
The iPad Air 3 is also expected to support the Apple Pencil and have a Smart Connector port, so a smaller version of Apple’s Smart Keyboard can be attached to it.
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