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iPad Air 3 rumours, specs and features

Everything we know about Apple's thinnest ever tablet

apple ipad air 2

Apple’s iPad Air 3 could be arriving this year, if rumours are to be believed. A follow-up to the wildly successful iPad Airs 1 and 2, the third edition is hotly anticipated by fans.

Release date

Apple released the original iPad Air back in 2013, following it swiftly with the iPad Air 2 the next year. This apparently yearly upgrade cycle was thrown off, however, when the company failed to deliver a new version in 2015.

Rumours suggest that this year will see the latest model being unveiled, though. One theory is that Apple is now switching to an alternate update cycle, switching between the iPad Pro and the iPad Air.

This would make sense given the plateauing of iPad sales and the increasing difficulty of making measurable improvements. Not releasing multiple tablets at the same time would also maximise potential sales for the company.

Current estimates have pegged the launch date for the device as March, including an investor’s note seen by AppleInsider. The note came from Ming-Chi Kuo, a KGI Securities analyst who has previously been proved accurate.

This would be somewhat out of character for the company, as major tablet launches have historically taken place in Autumn. The two preceding generations of iPad Air launched in October and November, as did the iPad Pro.

Earlier reports suggested the iPad Air 3 would launch at a September event, which may still prove the most likely. It would certainly be in-keeping with Apple’s previous form, but the company has also been known to buck trends.

Price and storage

Apple launched the last two generations of the iPad Air at £399 for the basic 16GB model, and generally likes to keep pricing consistent between iterations.

However, if the company chooses to axe the 16GB version and just start with 32GB – as it has with the iPad Pro – the starting cost will likely jump by around £40.

Another spanner is thrown in the works by the fact that the iPad Air 2 axed the 32GB storage option altogether, jumping straight from 16GB to 64GB.

All signs point to the 16GB tier going the way of the dodo, but opinion is divided over whether 32GB or 64GB will replace it as the entry level.

64GB is a lot of storage, and a lot more than most people need, especially considering that the iPad Air is mainly used as a consumer device for surfing and streaming. With that in mind, 32GB seems the most likely starting point.

Specs and features

The iPad Air’s primary selling point is its razor-thin chassis, which is a mere 6.1mm thick on the latest model. A new model would almost certainly have to improve on this even further, which may well lead to a slight sacrifice in battery capacity.

In terms of performance, a new iPad Air is unlikely to be bleeding-edge. This is partly because it will have to make concessions to achieve the aforementioned space savings, but also because Apple won’t want to outclass the iPad Pro, as it’s meant to be their new heavy hitter.

Current iPad Air models are outfitted with A8X processors, so expect a new version to come with the iPad Pro’s A9X. It may well up the RAM allocation to 3GB as well, bettering the 2GB found in the last generation, but not quite equaling the iPad Pro.

Naturally, it’ll come with the latest version of iOS – most likely iOS 10. However, the 3D Touch technology introduced with the iPhone 6s looks like it won’t be included.

Ming-Chi Kuo stated that supply chain issues have plagued the technology, and there have been no hints that it will be included in the new iPad Air.

What may make an appearance is support for the Apple Pencil. Although it was principally designed as a companion for the iPad Pro, making it compatible with multiple devices would allow the company to vastly increase the stylus’ usefulness. 

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