iPad Air 3 tipped for release in the first half of 2016, but without 3D Touch
It wasn't much of a surprise when Apple introduced the iPad Pro or the iPad mini 4 along with the new iPhones for this year, but it did leave a question as to when we might expect to see the iPad Air 3, which was not announced. A new prediction from KGI's Ming -Chi Kuo claims the iPad Air 3 will be released in the first half of 2016.
This alone is a conclusion that anyone could get to with an educated guess, but Kuo makes his prediction a bit more interesting by saying that the iPad Air 3 may not feature Apple's new 3D Touch functionality, and it seems to be a production issue. Kuo wrote:
While we think the 3D Touch supply chain produced more to avoid shortages in the early stages, slower end-product demand and improved back-end assembly yield have resulted in the current high inventory. As 1Q16 demand looks to slow on seasonality and competition from other brands’ new models, we believe 3D Touch supply chain capacity utilization is currently lower than peak level of 30%, and that will last through 1Q16.
Kuo did mention that these production issues may only affect the iPad Air 3, and there should not be any issues with getting 3D Touch in the iPhone 7.
Putting this together with other rumors and Apple's history of releases, it seems reasonable to assume that Apple will at least announce the iPad Air 3 around March and probably at the same time as the rumored 4-inch iPhone 6c and second generation Apple Watch. Apple does like to have devices to release in the spring to balance its year out with the fall release of the new iPhones (not to mention to steal some of the thunder from Samsung's Galaxy S release early in the year.)