Apple has several tablets up its sleeve for 2017, with iPad Pro 2, iPad Air 3 and iPad Mini 5 releases all anticipated. The tablet niche has been something of a challenge for Apple over the last few years, with the demand for this compact form of computer receding somewhat. Nonetheless, Apple remains the market leader by some distance, with the iPad undoubtedly being an iconic example of consumer electronics technology. Thus, the Californian company is sure to have something exciting in store for its iPad range this year.

iPad Pro 2

When the iPad Pro launched in September 2015, it was the biggest tablet computer that Apple had ever produced. It was extremely enthusiastically received at the time, meaning that Apple was always likely to release several sequels.

And we shouldn’t have too long to wait for the iPad Pro 2, as rumors indicate that a March launch for this tablet is possible. This would coincide neatly with software releases from Apple, but there have also been suggestions that the chip manufacturer for the device, TSMC, has experienced lower than expected yields. This could lead to the release slipping into the summer months.

Apple has kept rather quiet regarding the pricing of the iPad Pro 2, but we can expect a similar pricing structure to the original iPad Pro. This means that the base model will cost $599, with the 12.9-inch version costing $799.

Apple is expected to eliminate the headphone jack from the iPad Pro 2, thus following moves it has already made in the iPhone range. Leaked photographs have already indicated that this is the case, with an apparent image of the iPad Pro 2 from the Chinese supply line appearing online.

Elsewhere, Apple is likely to produce a True Tone display for the tablet. True Tone allows a tablet to alter the screen’s color temperature depending on the degree of lighting in a particular location. The smart money is also on a fingerprint scanner being built into the screen. Three different model sizes will be available for iPad consumers, with a new 10.5-inch version strongly rumored.

Bigger batteries and improved camera functionality are also likely.

iPad Pro 2, iPad Air 3, iPad Mini 5: Release Date, Specs [Rumors]

iPad Air 3

The iPad Air 3 is anticipated despite rumors that Apple could have killed off the iPad range. The consumer electronics giant has declined to suggest that any of the Pro models are effectively the equivalent to the iPad Air, and this should mean that a new tablet in the $400 price range is released this year. There has been no hurry to release this device due to the slowing of the tablet market, but the iPad Air 3 will ultimately fit into Apple’s needs rather well.

It is unlikely that we will see major design changes when the iPad Air 3 is released; Apple is always keen to slim down its hardware releases. Thus, we can expect the iPad Air 3 to be under 6mm in depth, being the slimmest tablet ever released by the corporation. Gold, Silver and Space Grey color options can be anticipated, with the likely introduction of a Rose Gold model to accompany them.

Apple Pencil support, an A9X chip, and a four-speaker audio system are among the specs that have been linked with this tablet computer, while the retention of a 9.7-inch display with 2,048 x 1,536 resolution is likely. The apple pPncil stylus has proved particularly popular with Apple fans since its introduction.

It is possible that Apple could also tweak the camera in the iPad Air 3, but the corporation must be wary of the importance of distinguishing between this tablet and the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, if indeed two separate models are to be released.

This will probably be a slightly lower spec machine than the iPad Pro series, intended to attract the more casual tablet computer user.

iPad Pro 2, iPad Air 3, iPad Mini 5: Release Date, Specs [Rumors]

iPad Mini 5

Alongside the iPad Air and iPad Pro models will be the release of the iPad Mini 5; a very popular and esteemed product range for Apple. There have been rumors that this device could be updated alongside the iPad Pro, which would suggest a March release date. Already reports in China have indicated that updated iPad models will be announced in March alongside the second generation Apple Pencil, which has apparently been leaked from the Asian supply chain.

Indeed, there were expectations that the iPad Mini 5 would be announced at Apple events last year, but these passed with no sign of the next generation 7.9-inch tablet computer. But when it does arrive, the pricing is likely to be frozen once more from the last generation model, owing to pressures in the tablet computing market.

Again, a slimmer design can be anticipated with the iPad Mini 5, with some reports suggesting that it will be as dainty as just 5mm in depth. Additionally, Apple could embrace the 7000-series aluminum utilized in the Apple Watch range for this tablet computer, in order to make it a particularly durable and lightweight release, and to prevent bending.

Some of the more interesting suggestions for this smaller tablets are the introduction of a flexible display, and the Smart Connector being migrated from the iPad Pro. The former technology would enable users to fold up the screen of the iPad and place it in their pocket or bag when not being used. Whether this is really practical for the iPad Mini 5 is debatable, but the patents for this feature are certainly well established.

Apple is also expected to increase the battery in the iPad Mini 5, ensuring that this is a convenient tablet to utilize for relatively long periods of time. The Cupertino-based company will also probably scrap the 16GB version of the iPad Mini, instead releasing the Mini 5 in 32GB, 64GB and 128GB versions.

Fans of the iPhone range would love to see 3D Touch migrate to the iPad Mini, and this is another possible new function that Apple may toy with.