Supersized 12.9-inch iPad Air launch now looks imminent — here’s why

iPad Pro 2022 on a wooden desk in an office, to demonstrate what a 12.9-inch iPad Air would look like
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

It's been over two years since Apple released a new iPad Air, so it's starting to feel like the company is due to trot out an update. That feels even more likely now that some companies are selling accessories for an iPad Air we've never seen before.

Specifically, sharp-eyed readers of 9to5Mac recently noticed that accessory maker ESR is now selling cases on Amazon designed to fit a 12.9-inch iPad Air. This lines up with other reports we've heard about a potential iPad Air 2024 release, most notably that it will be the first iPad Air model to debut with both the standard 10-inch design and a larger 12.9-inch version.

Bloomberg's Mark Gurman recently reported that the new iPad Air release will likely  come in May, so this latest news doesn't come as a surprise. 

If true, that would mean the new iPad Air 2024 will come with a screen size that rivals that of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. And since it would presumably come with at least the same Apple M2 chip that powers the current iPad Pro, if not the even more powerful Apple M3 chip. Some analysts have even suggested the iPad Air 2024 might get a mini-LED display, which delivers brightness and visual quality that rivals OLED.

Should that come to pass, the $599 (to start) iPad Air could suddenly become a serious rival to the iPad Pro, which starts at $799 for the 11-inch or $1,099 for the 12.9-inch model. But of course, the iPad Pro is also likely to get a new model in 2024 with some upgrades we haven't yet confirmed, including possibly an OLED screen, so perhaps the 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2024 will retain significant advantages over the iPad Air 2024.

As you can see, ESR is selling cases for a 12.9-inch iPad Air. (Image credit: ESR/Amazon)

Even if Apple makes minimal changes to the Pro line while rolling out a faster, bigger iPad Air 2024, it still won't be able to match all the features of the iPad Pros. The most notable trade-off you get for going with iPad Air over Pro is a less impressive camera array, since the modern iPad Pros come with a LiDAR scanner on the back camera array while the iPad Airs do not. 

And indeed, this discrepancy is maintained in the cases we've seen on sale for a 12.9-inch iPad Air, since they have only a small cutout. But that helps solidify our hunch that these 12.9-inch iPad Air cases are legitimately based on a real product, rather than simply being 12.9-inch iPad Pro cases rebranded as iPad Air 2024 cases for a quick sales boost. 


After no iPad launches in 2023, Apple is poised to start unloading new tablets in 2024. The iPad Air seems like a great choice, since it's a popular mid-range iPad that hasn't been updated since it got an M1 injection in 2022. 

A 12.9-inch model makes a lot of sense, offering the extra size of an iPad Pro at a (hopefully significantly) cheaper price. I happen to have a 12.9-inch iPad Pro model here with me, and while the extra screen real estate is great, the size and weight of the tablet make it a little tiring to hold for long periods. Perhaps a 12.9-inch iPad Air could be a compelling alternative by being just as large and somehow lighter, though the weight difference between the 10-inch iPad Air and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is only about half a pound.

Regardless of changes Apple makes it's likely to launch a few new tablets this year, and we may get our first taste of what's coming at WWDC 2024 in June. Stay tuned!

More from Tom's Guide

Alex Wawro
Senior Editor Computing

Alex Wawro is a lifelong tech and games enthusiast with more than a decade of experience covering both for outlets like Game Developer, Black Hat, and PC World magazine. A lifelong PC builder, he currently serves as a senior editor at Tom's Guide covering all things computing, from laptops and desktops to keyboards and mice.