Leaker Evan Blass (opens in new tab), writing for 91Mobiles (opens in new tab), claims that a big Asian mobile carrier has started preparing for the launch of Apple's new mid-range phone and tablet, providing the images below as proof. This comes just before Apple's Peek Performance event, confirmed for March 8.
These images seem to show test or placeholder assets for this unnamed carrier's store pages. Blass explains that Apple doesn't send out assets before announcing products, which is why we see shots of the iPad Air 4 and unofficial renders of a flat-side iPhone SE.
Since rumors about this phone and tablet arriving in March have been well-circulated, we initially wondered if this was simply the carrier trying to cover its bases just in case next week's event does announce these products. But, as Blass points out in a Twitter reply (opens in new tab), carriers have a more direct relationship with Apple than other companies like accessory makers (like Belkin, which has also been prepping for an iPhone SE 3 release), meaning this kind of preparation could be the result of a hint from Apple.
If you've not been following the leaks up to now, the iPhone SE 3 sounds like it will be a modest upgrade to the iPhone SE 2020, keeping the iPhone 8-style body (including a Touch ID home button) but adding the more powerful and 5G-ready A15 Bionic chipset from the iPhone 13 series.
The iPad Air 5 will also reportedly get small changes compared to the big update between the third and fourth-generation iPad Airs. Rumored upgrades this time are a camera upgrade that will enable Center Stage tracking for video, and an A15 chip.
That's not all we might see at the Peek Performance presentation though. Rumors claim we may also see a new iPad Pro 2022 to go alongside the iPad Air, and there could be one or more new Macs announced, too. This could include a new iMac Pro all-in-one desktop, a refreshed Mac mini 2022 or even a new entry-level MacBook Pro 2022, all sporting updated Apple M-series chips.