Even carriers are gearing up for Apple's iPhone SE 5G and iPad Air 5 March 8 announcement

Even carriers are gearing up for Apple's iPhone SE 5G and iPad Air 5 March 8 announcement
While Apple is almost always better at keeping a secret than the likes of Samsung or Google leading up to a major product launch event, you won't be getting any prizes if you correctly guess what the Cupertino-based tech giant plans to unveil next Tuesday.

That's because the spring 2022 announcement of the first-ever 5G-enabled iPhone SE has been expected... ever since it became clear no such device would see daylight in 2021, and a familiar-looking fifth-gen iPad Air joined the undoubtedly affordable handset in the rumor mill a couple of months ago.

Even the exact March 8 unveiling date of the two devices officially confirmed yesterday was unofficially revealed several weeks back, and now long-time leaker and new 91mobiles contributor Evan Blass of @evleaks Twitter fame claims to have discovered concrete evidence corroborating the impending release of a third-gen iPhone SE and an upgraded iPad Air with optional 5G connectivity.

When will actual sales begin?

Unfortunately, there's no way to answer that question with any degree of confidence just yet... unless, of course, we leave today's report aside for a few seconds and go back in time for a little Apple history lesson.

Although every product and release schedule is different, there's definitely a good chance the company will manage to roll out the iPhone SE 3 just as quickly as its predecessor. Back in 2020, the iPhone SE 2 was announced on April 15, with pre-orders underway two days later and actual commercial availability kicking off on April 24.

Considering "trial production" reportedly began months ago and there have been no rumors of any issues discovered since then, we fully expect the 5G-capable iPhone SE (2022) to go up for pre-order next Friday, March 11, and have a proper release on March 18.

While Apple has been historically slower to get new iPads into the hands of early adopters than new iPhones, the company's next-gen 10.9-incher could well follow the same timetable as the third-gen SE handset in lack of a redesign or any drastic internal upgrades.

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That theory seems to be supported by the "behind the scenes prep work" of an unnamed "leading Asian carrier." This operator appears to be paying equal attention to the iPhone SE 3 and iPad Air 5, drawing up the two's product webpages as we speak.

This is as close as we'll ever get to Apple itself confirming the imminent arrival of a specific device (or two), as said "leading carrier" is undoubtedly in communication with the world's second-largest smartphone vendor at times like this.

Same old designs, same old prices?

Before you get too excited, there's no way to know that the images currently used in this carrier's "test" pages are meant to depict the 2022 iPhone SE and iPad Air.

In fact, hardcore Apple fans will probably recognize these as official promotional material for existing iPhone SE and iPad Air generations. But the illustrations might as well show the next versions of the two devices, which are widely expected to look identical to their predecessors on the outside.

The inside is obviously where things get interesting, with both the iPhone SE 3 and iPad Air 5 tipped to pack the same blazing fast A15 processor as the iPhone 13 family. 

Alas, that and 5G speeds are the only improvements the iPhone SE (2022) is expected to bring to the table compared to its 2020 forerunner, which explains why the $399 base price could also go unchanged.

The iPad Air (2022), meanwhile, is likely to at least upgrade the front-facing camera of the 2020 edition apart from the A14 Bionic chip, which shouldn't impact the tablet's relative affordability either. Unless you plan on opting for a 5G-enabled variant, in which case you might want to expect to pay a little more than the $729 currently charged for a cellular-capable iPad Air with 4G LTE speeds.

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