The rumors and reports of the next iPad coming into land are getting louder. In recent days, new iPads were specified in the Eurasian Economic Commission database, alongside multiple new Apple Watch Series 6 models. And now there are reports of a new iPad Air with a radical new design. Could the two reports be linked to the same product? Here’s what we know so far.
Seven iPad models listed
The listings, spotted by MacRumors, come in two parts, which suggests that two different iPads are being refreshed. One listing has two versions, the other has five. There’s no more detail than that, and the fact that they all run iPadOS 14, which is only in beta just now.
Both listings are slightly curious: why only two versions of the first model, why five for the other? Currently, the iPad Pro 12.9, iPad Pro 11, iPad Air and iPad mini each has four model numbers, one for the wi-fi only versions, three for the cellular ones. The exception is the entry-level iPad which has three model numbers associated with it.
So, what iPads will they be?
There have been persistent rumors of an updated iPad Pro coming very soon, so that is likely to be one of them. But the other could be either the iPad or iPad Air. Though the Air has waited longer than the iPad for a refresh, it could still be an entry-level tablet that’s being prepared for launch in the coming weeks.
What about this new-design iPad Air?
Leaker DuanRui has tweeted images of what’s supposedly an iPad Air manual. Now, if you’re saying to yourself, “I’ve literally never seen one of those,” then you’re not alone. They do exist in the form of User Guides which Apple makes and puts in the Books app store (they’re free).
But this looks a little different. Even so, it’s not unconvincing and it’s certainly fascinating. It shows an iPad with a display that covers most of the front of the tablet, like on the iPad Pro, though with slightly larger bezels. Which means it has Face ID, you might think.
In fact, it has Touch ID but in a different place, somewhere Apple has never put a fingerprint sensor before.
Touch ID in a button
The Sleep/wake button which sits on the top edge of the iPad is, according to the tweeted document, home to Touch ID. The document, which is in Spanish, refers to Touch ID by name and confirms its purpose is to unlock the screen and pay for stuff using Apple Pay.
Is this for real?
Good question. Truth is, it’s hard to tell. This is certainly a radical change, one that Apple has resisted before. But it has the great advantage of delivering an all-screen iPad Air, while saving the top-end Face ID system for the iPad Pro.
In one of the illustrations, off in the corner and at an angle, it mentions a USB-C connector, currently found only on one iPad, the iPad Pro. This is another serious upgrade to the iPad Air predicted here.
What else does it tell us?
There’s a single camera, Smart Connector on the back, and the same mechanics for launching the Control Center, for instance, as on the iPad Pro rather than the current system on the iPad Air and other devices with Touch ID on the front. Other rumors say the next iPad Air will have a version of the A14 chip expected in the iPhone 12.
So, what’s the conclusion?
I’ll be honest, I’m slightly skeptical. I think it looks fantastic and I really want it to be true, but there are other rumors which say that the iPad Air will next be refreshed in early 2021. That seems more believable to me, and fits with the idea that the A14 chip will be included some months after it appears in this Fall’s iPhones.
Which leaves us with what the upcoming iPads listed in the database will be and when they’ll arrive.
It’s possible that the iPad that’s coming in two versions is an iPad Pro with a faster processor, available in the highest storage configuration only, one with wi-fi, one with wi-fi plus cellular.
Which leaves the other iPad. If it’s not the super-duper hugely updated iPad Air discussed above, and on balance I think it won’t be, then I think it’ll be an update to the entry-level iPad. Sure, this was only updated last September, but Apple is committed to the iPad. An update at this stage would confirm its position as a standout, great-value device.
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