The latest reports indicate that Apple is intending to hold its hotly anticipated unveiling event on March 15, during which the company will show off the next generation iPad Air 3. This will be a significant updates to the iPad Air range, which has been unsullied since the iPad Air 2 launched back in October 2014. The Apple tablet will not be the only major hardware anticipated for the event, with the compact iPhone 5SE also expected.
While the new four-inch smartphone has generated a great deal of media headlines, it is perhaps the iPad Air 3 that will be the most impressive device on display in March. Analysts believe that the specifications of the tablet will be massively upgraded, and that the overhaul of the device may see it even surpass the existing iPad Pro in terms of capabilities.
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Sources close to Apple suggest that the iPad Air 3 will benefit from a Smart Connector port, akin to the one already included in the iPad Pro. This is an extremely valuable peripheral, as it effectively enables users to collect multiple accessories. Other rumored improvements include an enhanced speaker system, featuring four separate units, and a rear-LED flash; aeemingly a unique feature for any iPad model.
This information can be considered fairly sound, as according to Apple Insider photographs of cases for the next generation iPad have already been spotted and leaked. When observing these images it is possible to denote that the design is fairly similar to the iPad Pro, with space for the Smart Connector apparent. This suggests that Apple will follow the policy of enabling a connected keyboard to be central to the design of the iPad Air 3, in common with the previous iPad Pro. Other accessories are, of course, also possible.
Aside from the Smart Connector space and the holes for four speakers, it does seem that the design is fairly similar to that of the iPad Air 2, which also shared design parameters with the iPad Pro. This suggests that Apple is fairly content with the existing design of its tablet range; perhaps understandable considering that it remains such an iconic device.
Divergence from iPhone 7
The similarity with previous tablet releases suggests that the iPad Air 3 will include a headphone jack and lock button at the top of the device. It is interesting to note this as it has been frequently suggested that Apple will eliminate the headphone jack from the iPhone 7 when it releases later this year, although this has not been linked with the forthcoming iPhone 5SE. Volume buttons were placed on the right side of the device, while an improved camera is also mooted for the rear of the iPad Air 3.
By improving the capabilities of the camera in the iPad Air 3, it seems that it is hoped by Apple that the package can deliver a more creative aspect than previous releases. Apple has had to endure falls in the sales of iPad tablets in recent generations, and it is clear that the consumer electronics giant is attempting to cast its net wider with its tablet range. The iPad Pro was very much aimed at business, and it is possible that the iPad Air 3 will also be marketed in this way, as the California-based company attempts to attract as many people as possible to its iPad series.
It has also been suggested rhat the iPad Air 3 tablet might not feature a huge performance upgrade from the predecessor in the series. On the other hand, there is disagreement among analysts on this subject, with some suggesting that there will indeed be significant spec increases. However, notably Ming-Chi Kuo, an almost legendary analyst for KGI Securities, has indicated his belief that the 3D Touch technology that debuted in the iPhone range last year will not be included in the iPad Air 3.
So it seems that the iPad Air 3 will be very much an updated version of the iPad Air 2, at least in design terms. But it is also worth noting that it will be marginally larger than the previous tablet in the series. The iPad Air 3 is expected to be 0.05mm thicker and 0.1mm wider than the model it replaces, according to a leaked schematic. This is intriguing, as Apple has typically attempted to produce ever slimmer devices, so this suggests that there will indeed be an upgrade in the capabilities of the tablet.
The touchscreen in the iPad Air 3 is also expected to support the Apple Pencil, which was launched with the iPad Pro last year. If indeed Apple does intend to increase the specs of the iPad Air 3 to put them in the same ballpark as the iPad Pro, and also offer Apple Pencil functionality, it is difficult to see how the two tablets will be differentiated except in terms of size. The release of the iPad Air 3 may be the beginning of Apple migrating all of its tablet devices over to this stylus technology.
It is even rumored that Apple could utilize the iPad Air 3 as a testing ground for the improved low-light shooting technology that it intends to include in the iPhone 7 later this year. This can be considered a bit of a stab in the dark, considering that Apple itself hasn’t even confirmed that it will indeed include this technology into the iPhone range! But if Apple wishes to brand the iPad Air 3 as a serious creativity platform, rhis would be an interesting and valuable move.
Not too much is known about the price of the iPad Air 3 at this point in time, but it is expected that Apple cannot realistically afford to increase the price significantly over the existing iPad Air 2. The 16GB model of the iPad Air 2 starts at $499, with capacities up to 128GB available.