Some of the biggest names in the Android arms race have already had their chance to amaze people at February's MWC 2016 conference in Barcelona. Now, it's Apple's turn to get the crowd going with new iOS-powered action. The rumor birdies keep chirping about an upcoming March 21 event, where Apple will be pulling a hat-trick, announcing a new 4-inch iPhone, presenting the Apple Watch 2, and showcasing the next chapter in the iPad's short, but remarkable history – the iPad Air 3.
- Design – the iPad Air 3 will have a 7000-series aluminum body with four speakers, a Smart Keyboard connector, Pencil support, but no 3D Touch layer. It might be as thin as 5mm, too.
- Display – Apple might grace a version of the iPad Air 3 with a 9.7-inch, 4K-resolution IPS LCD screen. If that doesn't happen, we take it Apple hasn't forgotten about the 1536 x 2048 resolution screens it likes to put in Retina iPads.
- Hardware – the tablet will be powered by the A9X chipset with 4GB of RAM, the same configuration as the iPad Pro's. This kind of power in a 9.7-inch tablet is the very definition of "packing a punch."
- Camera – we believe Apple will keep the 8MP iSight camera with f/2.4 aperture, autofocus, burst mode and panorama. Likewise, the front camera will be a 1.2MP unit for FaceTime video conversations and, you know, tablet selfies.
- Price and release date – The iPad Air 3 will probably cost the same as the iPad Air 2 at launch. This is $499/$599/$699 for the 16GB/64GB/128GB storage variants. It will be sold in Silver, Gold, and Space Gray for sure, although Apple could add another color scheme. The release will be in April.
The iPad Air 3 will be styled after its bigger cousin, the iPad Pro, complete with four speakers and a Smart Connector.
Leaked iPad Air 3 cases and schematics
The iPad Air 3 will probably support the Apple Pencil digital stylus, but 3D Touch controls are quite unlikely.
Additionally, industry sources have said that Apple has been testing 9.7-inch iPad panels with the Apple Pencil digital stylus, which is a pretty good indication that the iPad Air 3 will be compatible with it. At present, the Pencil works exclusively with the 12.9-inch iPad Pro.
3D Touch support is unlikely. Renowned analyst Ming-Chi Kuo who has a solid track record with Apple predictions has said that production issues will prevent the iPad Air 3 from receiving the feature. Besides, if Apple planned to bring the technology to its tablets anytime soon, it ought to have started with the iPad Pro. The lack of 3D Touch in the bigger tablet is telling enough that the tech will probably come in a future iPad generation.
With the A9X chipset and 4GB of RAM, the iPad Air 3 could become the most powerful 9.7-inch tablet on the market.
Not just on the outside, the iPad Air 3 will be similar to the iPad Pro on the inside as well! If the rumors turn out to be true, the Air 3 will be the most powerful 9.7-inch tablet on the market. But even if they don't tell the entire truth, the tablet will still be a force to be reckoned with. Here's what we have!
The rumors mongers claim Apple is bringing in its best tablet hardware for the new iPad Air. A source familiar with matters confirmed to Bloomberg that the iPad Air 3 will be powered by the A9X chipset with 4GB of RAM, which is the iPad Pro's configuration. It would be pretty exciting if Apple really manages to contain this laptop-like hardware horsepower inside a regular-sized tablet. Paired with iOS 9's enhanced multitasking and the wide selection of creative apps in the App Store, the iPad Air 3 will be a great choice for users of all backgrounds.
A little bit for the chip itself. The A9X in the iPad Pro is made by TSMC on a 16nm FinFET process, and a large amount of its die is dedicated to the 12 GPU cores featured in the custom PowerVR 12-cluster Series 7 chip. Combined with the 128-bit memory bus, the A9X is capable of pushing a memory bandwidth of 51.2GB/sec, which is very impressive for mobile hardware.
One of the wildest rumors swinging its tail claims one of the iPad Air 3 models will ship with a 9.7-inch 4K-resolution IPS LCD screen. This would be equal parts curious and exciting. Apple eschewed 4K support for its flagship home entertainment product, last year's Apple TV box. It also graced the 12.1-inch iPad Pro with a 2732 x 2048 resolution, missing a pretty obvious opportunity to pioneer 4K resolution on its most high-profile tablet. In addition, an ultra high-res display will place considerable performance and battery life demands, so it would be interesting to see how Apple will ride out these challenges.
So far, all of the leaked cases and schematics have portrayed the iPad Air 3 with an LED flash below the rear-facing camera. This will be a significant addition to the tablet's photography potential, allowing higher quality night time shots. Given how much the rumored device resembles the iPad Pro in design and hardware terms, we expect Apple will keep the 8MP iSight camera with f/2.4 aperture, autofocus, burst mode and panorama. Likewise, the front camera could be a 1.2MP unit for FaceTime video conversations and, you know, tablet selfies.
Release date and price
Apple might announce the iPad Air 3 at its March 21 event in Cupertino. There's a strong possibility that the new 4-inch iPhone, and a selection of new wrist bands for the Apple Watch will be revealed as well. Apple might partially introduce the Apple Watch 2, too, before formally presenting the gadget in the fall.
To get a sense for the rumor's credibility, a little bit of history might be in order. Since the fourth-generation iPad and iPad mini (both presented in October 2012,) Apple has been announcing its tablets (including the previous two iPad Air generations and the iPad Pro) in October. However, this hasn't always been the case. Up to the third generation iPad, Apple had been announcing tablets in the first quarter – the original iPad was unveiled in January, while the iPad 2 and 3 appeared in March. Thus, the door for the iPad Air 3's March announcement and eventual April release date is very much open.
|iPad (1st gen)||January 27, 2010||April 3, 2010|
|iPad 2||March 2, 2011||March 11, 2011|
|iPad 3||March 7, 2012||March 16, 2012|
|iPad 4||October 23, 2012||November 2, 2012|
|iPad Air||October 22, 2013||November 1, 2013|
|iPad Air 2||October 16, 2014||October 20, 2014|
|iPad Air 3||March 21||TBA|
Where prices are concerned, the iPad Air 3 will probably cost the same as the iPad Air 2 at launch. This is $499/$599/$699 for the 16GB/64GB/128GB storage variants. It will be sold in Silver, Gold, and Space Gray for sure, although Apple could add another color scheme – anyone up for a pink iPad?