Updated: iPad Air 3 release date, news and rumors

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Update: Apple has just sent out the invites to its next event, which is now confirmed to be March 21. Every rumor we’ve reported on is fair game to be announced at the event, but in terms of which ones will reveal themselves, we’ll have to wait just a while longer.

Apple event

It could very well be the iPad Air 3, a thinner, more powerful iteration on the excellent iPad Air series, though the invite doesn’t exactly seem to hint at the line of tablets. Or, it could be a smaller iPad Pro. Stay tuned.

Original article continues below…

With the iPad Air 2, we said that Apple had taken the perfect tablet and somehow made it even better. So where does it go from there? Well, hopefully it does the same thing again.

We’d expected to see the iPad Air 3 in 2015, but instead we were treated to the iPad Pro. So by the time the iPad Air 3 does arrive the iPad Air 2 is likely to be getting pretty old, as such we’re hopeful that we could see a big jump in tech and features.

iPad Air 2

The processor will obviously get a boost for one, and for better or worse it’s entirely possible that it will get even slimmer and lighter than the iPad Air 2 – although is there anywhere for Apple to go in making this tablet even thinner?

Then there are things we’d like to see, but are less likely, such as 32GB becoming the smallest size. For now we don’t have much to go on, but with it possibly not arriving until late 2016 there should be plenty more time for leaks and rumors to roll in.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The next super-thin tablet from Apple.
  • When is it out? Likely March 15, 2016
  • What will it cost? Top end with an expensive price tag – not as much as the iPad Pro though.

iPad Air 3 release date

Initially we expected the iPad Air 3 to launch in 2015 but instead Apple gave us the iPad Pro and iPad Mini 4. And to be honest, that kept us satisfied. The iPad Pro feels like an innovative, new product while the iPad Mini 4 is a big improvement upon the iPad Mini 3.

Rumor is that Apple wanted to hold off releasing the third iteration of the iPad Air as it didn’t want to overload consumers with too many different choices. Good decision.

Where does that put the iPad Air 3 release date? It may just launch on March 15 at a rumored Apple event that is supposed to also host the new iPhone 5SE and Apple Watch bands.

This backs up previous claims of a March 2016 release date, coming out of the Chinese technology site MyDrivers. There were also rumours of an Apple Watch 2 launch at the same event, but now it just appears to be new accessories for the company’s wrist-worn wearable.

While the March 15 date hasn’t been confirmed by Apple, it looks certainly that we won’t have to wait until the likely September iPhone 7 launch date to get our hands on the iPad Air 3 refresh.

iPad Air 3 design

iPad Air 2

Rumors of the iPad Air 3 haven’t really mentioned design all that much yet. We expect that’s something Apple wants to keep close to its chest, but we also don’t expect any major changes in the design department.

It’s likely Apple will keep the same size tablet and may trim it down a little bit more to make it thinner. But the iPad Air 2 is already thin enough, so maybe it’s not worth Apple trying to cut more fat when it could offer us an improved battery or higher spec under the hood.

One leak suggested the iPad Air 3 will come with a similar speaker set up to the iPad Pro. It would mean four speakers surrounding the tablet to make for a better movie watching experience than the two speakers on the iPad Air 2 provided.

That rumor was backed up by an iPad Air 3 case has appeared on Chinese retailer site Alibaba. It shows off the four speaker set up that has been rumored as well as a space for the magnetic powered Smart Connector for whenever you want to connect up something like a keyboard accessory.

There’s also an LED flash cut out from the back of the tablet suggesting the long rumoured feature will be real though. That said, there’s no official word these renders are based on real evidence and it could be that it’s all based on rumor.

There will likely be a 9.7-inch screen again but we’d expect to see some improvements in that area as well. 3D Touch technology like we’ve seen on the Apple Watch and iPhone 6S may come on the iPad Air 3.

Rumored specs from site MyDrivers suggested it may come with a 4K screen resolution of 2334 x 3112. That sounds a bit far from the iPad Air 2 and its 1536 x 2048 screen resolution but we’ll have to wait and see.

Then there’s the shooter – not many people focus on the camera possibilities of the iPad Air, but the new version is rumored to stick with an 8MP sensor and add in an LED flash to make it easier taking night shots.

iPad Air 3 rivals

iPad Pro

Apple is its own worst enemy here – all the big competitors to the iPad Air 3 are other tablets made by Apple. You’re covered by the iPad range whether you want something a little smaller or even a little bigger as well.

There’s the iPad Mini 4 from Apple that comes with an upgraded processor and a gorgeous 7.9-inch screen. It’s one of the most portable and light tablets on the market right now.

If you’re looking for bigger; it’s the iPad Pro. This comes with a huge 12.9-inch display and a very powerful A9X processor under the hood. It will cost you a little bit extra though as this tablet doesn’t come cheap.

Then there’s a lot of Android competition out there as well with the likes of the Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet, Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 and the Google Pixel C looking for your attention.

iPad Air 3 power and OS

There are some things about the iPad Air 3 which we can be fairly confident about. For one thing it’s likely to run iOS 10, though iOS 9 is always possible if it arrives sooner rather than later.

iOS 9 brings improvements to Siri and Apple Maps, true multitasking for iPads, a new keyboard and more. So look forward to all that on the iPad Air 3 at a minimum. If it has iOS 10 that’s sure to bring even more new features, but what form they’ll take remains to be seen.

iPad Air 2

The iPad Air 3 is also sure to get a newer, faster processor. The iPad Air 2 has an A8X chip, but we’re already up to the A9X on the iPad Pro, so we’d expect that at a minimum and quite possibly an A10 chip.

A recent report, however, does indicate the iPad Air 3 will have an A9X chip, with word coming from a source familiar with the plans.

There’s a good chance we’ll get more RAM too. The iPad Air 2 has 2GB of RAM, but Apple has since launched the iPad Pro with 4GB. As the name suggests though the Pro is aimed at more serious productivity, so the Air 3 might not have that much, but 3GB wouldn’t seem unreasonable.

iPad Air 2

Expect Touch ID to make a return as well. Some early rumors also suggest an improved 13MP rear camera with an LED flash, while others claim the iSight camera could be between 5 and 8 megapixels.

Carry on over to the next page to discover what we’d like to see from the iPad Air 3.

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