When is the iPad Air 3 coming out? Apple launched the excellent iPad Pro 9.7, reviewed back in March 2016 which brought the 10-inch iPad bang up to date, but this put a question mark over the iPad Air range. And given that there have been no leaks about a new 7.9in iPad, there are also doubts about the iPad mini range. Will Apple only launch iPad Pros from now on? That seems very unlikely, but here we round up all the rumours about the iPad Air 3 price, specs and release date in the UK. See also: Best tablet 2017.
Update 27 February: A recent report by Mac Otakara says the firm will stick with the rumoured schedule and announce four new iPad Pro models: 7.9-in, 9.7-in, 10.5-in and 12.9-in models. The 10.5-inch model may not ship until May, while other sizes are said to ship at the end of March. The 9.7in is very likely to be the iPad Air 3, but whether or not this report’s source is credible is another matter. We’ll have to wait and see.
Some US stores are said to be out of stock of certain iPad Air 2 models, leading to more rumours that Apple will indeed launch an Air 3 in March. However, this could be simply a co-incidence and is not enough to persuade us that the purported delays (read more below) aren’t believable.
Back in August 2016, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted three new iPads, and has recently revised those predictions slightly. Below a summary of what he expects Apple to launch in 2017.
- A 9.7in ‘low-cost’ iPad with an A9 processor – possibly the Air 3
- A 10-10.5in iPad with ultra-thin bezels – a completely new iPad Pro with a new A10X chip
- A follow up to the first iPad Pro 12.9 with upgraded specs including the new A10X chip
Could the 9.7in model be the iPad Air 3? The report, posted by MacRumours, says that the ‘low-cost’ model will use the A9 chip. This makes sense: use the previous generation chip from the current iPad Pro models (or even the iPhone 6S) but drop the price (and probably some other features).
iPad Air 3 release date rumours: When is the next iPad coming out?
The big question is ‘has Apple has killed off the iPad Air range?’. Is the iPad Pro 9.7 effectively the iPad Air 3? That’s a difficult question to answer but Apple certainly hasn’t said anything to suggest that the Pro is the Air’s replacement.
Although lots of rumours suggest new iPad models would arrive in March, that might not be the case. A report by DigiTimes suggests that components for the new iPads are still in a planning stage so the release date will be delayed until the second half of the year. The source backed up other rumours suggesting that Apple will replace the 9.7in sized iPad with a 10.5in size alongside a new budget friendly 9.7in model.
Apple needs a new tablet to sit in the £300-£400 price range. This will provide customers with a cheaper option to the 9.7in iPad Pro (which starts at £499) and offer a more reasonably priced upgrade for those using the iPad Air 2, or an older 9.7in iPad.
The tablet market has slowed over the past couple of years so we’re not overly surprised to see Apple waiting longer before bringing a new iPad out.
The iPad Air 2 was unveiled on 16 October 2014, and was released later the same month, while the first iPad Air was announced on 22 October 2013 before a November release.
iPad Air 3 price rumours: How much will iPad Air 3 cost in the UK?
Going on the basis that Apple will launch the iPad Air 3 this year, we expect it to cost £399 for the Wi-Fi-only 32GB base model – Apple’s standard price for the full-size iPad.
As mentioned already, this would give new or upgrading customers the familiar £399 option without having to spend £499 or having to opt for the smaller iPad mini 4. See also: iPad mini 5 release date, price and spec rumours
iPad Air 3 rumours: Design
We didn’t expect Apple to change the design of the iPad when it launched the iPad Air 2, but the company surprised us by making the already thin and light device even slimmer. It’s 6.1mm thick compared with the 7.5mm of the original iPad Air.
We think 6.1mm is thin enough, but don’t be surprised to see Apple shave even more off of the iPad Air’s profile with the next model. Apple is rumoured to be building it from even stronger aluminium than before, so it’s certainly plausible.
We expect the same Gold, Silver and Space Grey colour options, with the likely addition of a Rose Gold model.
iPad Air 3 specs rumours: Hardware upgrades
The previously leaked information about the iPad Air 3 all turned out to be the new iPad Pro – the Apple Pencil support, A9X chip, four-speaker audio system and more. That means it’s back to square one when it comes to the possible iPad Air 3 specs.
What we can say for almost certain is that it will follow the Apple formula of a 9.7in screen with a 2048×1536 resolution, meaning a 264ppi pixel density. The question is whether Apple will use the same True Tone screen found on the new iPad Pro and we think not otherwise it’s one less reason to pay more for the Pro model.
Improvements are more likely to include better cameras but Apple will tread a fine line between differentiating between the iPad Air 3 and iPad Pro 9.7in while making the new tablet a worthwhile upgrade from the iPad Air 2.
It’s all very much up in the air so we’ll continue to watch out for rumours and leaked details over the coming weeks and months. We’ll update this article with anything we find.