Apple iPad Air 6th Gen (2024): news, rumors, expectations
We are due for an iPad Air refresh in early 2024, as Apple is widely rumored to be refreshing its whole iPad lineup, ranging from the iPad mini to the large iPad Pro next year.
The iPad Air will remain the middle-range tablet in the family, certainly delivering excellent value. While it won't be scoring an OLED display like the iPad Pro, the upcoming sixth generation of the iPad Air will be available in two differently sized versions.
We will be continuously updating this hub with all the latest information, rumors, and hearsay about the iPad Air 6th Gen. Let's dive in!
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iPad Air 6 rumored release date
The latest round of rumors says that we should expect the next iPad Air to be released in late 2023 or early 2024.
Given that we can observe 18-month windows between the iPad Air 3rd Gen and Air 4th Gen as well as the iPad Air 4th Gen and iPad Air 5th Gen series, we can assume that a similar 18-month period might pass between the iPad Air 5th Gen and the upcoming iPad Air 6th Gen.
As the iPad Air 5 got released in March 2021, we can anticipate that the iPad Air 6 is looking at a potential September 2023 release alongside the iPhone 15 family.
Then again, in early 2023 Bloomberg's Mark Gurman chimed in that Apple could potentially introduce a minor spec bump to the iPad, iPad mini, and iPad Air lineups in 2023, but overall, uncertainty looms over this prediction.
iPad Air 6 expected price
For years now, the iPad Air has kept its pricing clean and tight: the entry-level, 64GB Wi-Fi model has started at $599, while the upscale 256GB version has started at $749. Provided that Apple doesn't change the storage variants or doesn't introduce a super-premium feature trickling down from the iPad Pro lineup, we generally expect the iPad Air 6th Gen to cost as much as its two immediate predecessors. This means a $599 starting price for the potential 64GB version and $749 for the 256GB one.
iPad Air 6 name, models, and variants
The iPad Air 6 will likely be called iPad Air 6th Gen by Apple, similarly to most previous tablets of the type, but this time around, we might be looking at two different versions of the tablet: a 10.9-inch standard Air as well as a larger 12.9-inch iPad Air that will match the iPad Pro in terms of available screen real estate.
The 10.5-inch tablet will carry the J507 model number, while the larger variant will be J537.
Apple is certainly adding a larger display version to the iPad Air lineup in order to offer more options at various price ranges and cater to those, wishing for a large display but unwilling to pay a premium for the iPad Pro.
The regular iPad Air 6th Gen might roll under the J507 and J508 model code names, one for the Wi-Fi and one for the Wi-Fi+cellular versions of the tablet. The same applies for the leaked J537 and J538 model numbers, which likely pertain to the larger 129-inch version of the next iPad Air.
iPad Air 6 rumored camera specs and features
The iPad Air 6 has always been a single-camera device, and we don't really expect this to change with the iPad Air 6. A dual-camera system is actually a selling point of the more premium iPad Pro family, which also boasts a LiDAR scanner for some extra augmented reality fun.
If anything, we expect a slight update to the overall specs of the rear camera, which didn't receive much love in-between the iPad Air 4 and iPad Air 5 upgrade cycles. Both of those came with a 12MP F1.8 camera capable of 4K@60fps video recording, which was actually rather good for a tablet, but an upgrade will probably be due for the iPad Air 6th Gen.
Meanwhile, the iPad Air 5th Gen introduced a rather notable improvement to the more important front-facing camera, which jumped to 12MP and scored the Center Stage feature that keeps you in the center of the frame during video calls. Thus, we don't really expect any improvements in this area on the iPad Air 6.
iPad Air 6 anticipated storage versions
Ever since the iPad Air 3rd Gen, we've only seen two storage variations for any subsequent iPad Air tablets: 64 and 256GB. Knowing Apple, chances are that the iPad Air 6th Gen will employ a similar storage spread, but what we really want to see is a minimum of 128GB in the iPad Air 6th Gen, with possibly a 512GB version joining the 256GB one. This would certainly make the slate even more intriguing and could justify purchasing the tablet if you're coming from an older slate with 64GB or less. Here's to hoping.
iPad Air 6 rumored storage versions:
- 64 GB
- 256 GB
iPad Air 6 rumored design features
As of now, not much is known about the design of the iPad Air 6, but it's extremely safe to not expect any major changes. The iPad Air 4th Gen ditched the old-school design of the iPad Air, Air 2, and Air 3, employing a flat-edged iPhone 12/13/14-like design with uniform bezels and Touch ID embedded right into the power button.
Earlier in 2024, we got hold of the rumored dimensions of the iPad Air 6th Gen, which will most likely be 280.6mm x 214.9mm x 6.0mm. That's just as much as the previous, current iPad Pro, which measures at 280.6mm x 214.9mm x 6.4mm. The only major difference is the thickness, which means we'll get a much skinnier iPad Air 6th Gen without any other major design changes.
Here are some leaked renders revealing what the iPad Air 6th Gen will most certainly look like.
Given that with the advent of the iPad 10th Gen all of Apple's iPads now utilize the same fresh new design, we don't really see Apple changing too much with the iPad Air 6. If anything, we expect minor touch-ups here and there, and quite possibly more color options.
iPad Air 6 expected display specs and features
The iPad Air is forever destined to be in the shadows of the truly great displays that grace the iPad Pro lineup. While the 11-inch iPad Pro has an LED ProMotion Liquid Retina display with a buttery-smooth 120Hz refresh rate, the pricier iPad Pro 12.9-inch even has the mini-LED tech on deck, which is just as stunning as OLED panels.
Unlike the more premium iPad Pro tablets, the iPad Air 6th Gen will probably rely on a less impressive 10.9-inch 60Hz IPS LCD display, similar to the iPad Air 5th Gen.
The extra 12.9-inch version will likely use a similar display technology, though we might expect miniLED to trickle down from the iPad Pro, which is slated to get an OLED display next year. However, if the superb display properties of the iPad Pro tablets are to trickle down, the iPad Air 6th Gen would be the first in line to score those.
iPad Air 6 rumored battery and charging features
Thanks to the use of M1 on the iPad Air 5th Gen, Apple made sure that it would last up to a day, and our tests indicated that this is generally true. Provided that the battery unit inside the iPad Air 6th Gen doesn't increase much, we could probably expect a similarly sized and similarly lasting battery unit inside. If Apple doesn't throw the M2 chip inside the iPad Air 6th Gen and continues using the M1 chip, we can definitely expect the same battery life.
iPad Air 6 anticipated software specs
By the time the iPad Air 6th Gen comes along, we should know everything there is to the upcoming iPad OS 17. Apple usually announces these at the WWDC developer summit in late spring, and the next one will possibly take place in early June 2023.
Some of the features that might make it to iPad OS 17 are the ones that made it to iOS 16 but not to iPad OS 16. For example, the iOS 16 lock screen customization is not found in iPad OS 16, and some other features are also missing from Apple's tablets. Could these be the themes of iPad OS 17? We would assume so, along with improvements to Stage Manager and the overall multi-tasking capabilities of the iPad lineup.
UPDATE:iPadOS 17 is now official and coming to existing iPad Air units, and unsurprisingly, it comes packed with features, including the aforementioned lock screen customization, alongside the Health app, adapted for iPads. There are new interactive widgets as well, and some iOS 17 features are also onboard, such as the AirDrop over the internet, offline maps, and more.
iPad Air 6 rumored hardware specs
With the Apple M1 and some 8GB of RAM on board, the iPad Air 5th Gen is as powerful as some MacBook Air models, so there's never really any lack of performance. Whatever you might throw at the iPad Air 5th Gen, it would crush it. Thus, Apple would definitely be in its right to reserve the M1 for yet another stint with the iPad Air 6th Gen.
However, now that the precedent is here and the Apple M2 silicon powers the latest iPad Pro units, it wouldn't be too outlandish to anticipate that one making an appearance inside the iPad Air 6th Gen as well. If anything, using that chip inside the upcoming tablet would make it a super-competitive and powerful machine that would continue carrying the "iPad Pro killer" moniker.
There's already some chatter that the M2 might indeed end up inside the iPad Air 6, but we are certain that rumors from more reliable sources could start cropping up as we inch towards the iPad Air 6th Gen announcement.
And now, with the Apple M3 right around the corner, there's a high chance it might end up inside the iPad Air, making it one very powerful beast. Yet, seeing the thermal problems that the 3nm Apple A17 Pro chip exhibits, we'd be wary of the M3 in a mobile device, even though a tablet has better heat dissipation.
Should I wait for the iPad Air 6?
- You should wait for the iPad Air 6 if you're coming from an older iPad Air or a regular iPad that's getting a bit long in the tooth. The iPad Air 5th Gen is already an excellent tablet that has pretty much everything a regular user might need, but if you've abstained from upgrading up until now, you might as well wait for the iPad 6th Gen and see what improvements that one would bring to the table.
- You should not wait for the iPad Air 6 if you've recently upgraded to the iPad Air 5th Gen or you're coming from an iPad Pro upbringing. We don't expect major changes in comparison with the iPad Air 5th Gen, and the iPad Pro tablets, be they 11-inch or 12.9-inch, have a lot more going for them in terms of features and functionalities, so it wouldn't make sense to consider an iPad Air 6th Gen (unless you stumble upon an awesome discount in the future).