Apple’s mid-range iPad Air started life as a 9.7-inch tablet, before hitting 10.9 inches in later iterations. But it looks like Apple’s screen inflation won’t be stopping there, and the company could be planning a larger model when the iPad Air 6 arrives in the next few months.
According to DigiTimes’ industry sources, Apple is working on a 12.9-inch configuration for the upcoming tablet. A previous rumor from 9to5Mac stated that there would be two versions of the upcoming iPad Air, which suggests Apple will be maintaining the current 10.9-inch design while adding an iPad Pro-matching 12.9-inch model for those who want more screen space without the price tag.
But to be clear, iPad Pro will still be the way to go for people who want the very best visual fidelity. The DigiTimes report says that the 12.9-inch screen will use the same LCD technology found in the current iPad Air, rather than embracing mini-LED as the Pro models have (or the OLED that the 2024 iPad Pro is rumored to adopt).
On one level, the strategy — if confirmed to be true — makes sense and follows what Apple is doing with its iPhones. The iPhone 15 Plus exists for those that want a big screen without paying an extra $300 for the iPhone 15 Pro Max.
All the same, one more iPad variant in an already crowded lineup certainly makes life difficult for consumers who don’t know Apple inside out.
Too many iPads?
When Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad back in 2010, there was just one model: a 9.7-inch tablet with an Apple A4 processor, which you could buy with one of three capacities (16GB, 32GB or 64GB) and with or without 3G connectivity.
In 2023, if this rumor is correct, there will be six differently sized iPads to choose from, with four different sets of internals between them: iPad, mini, Air and Pro. That’s before you get into older models, differing capacities, whether or not they have cellular support and which of the three Apple Pencils work with them. It’s extremely messy, and will only get more confusing if Apple launches the rumored foldable iPad next year.
With tablet sales in decline around the world, it’s surprising that Apple is looking at broadening its range, rather than consolidating. We’ll have to see if this new sized iPad Air really exists when the line is refreshed in the next few months.
While there was talk of a new model this week, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman doesn’t believe anything is imminent and the analyst Ming-Chi Kuo thinks we’re now looking at early next year.