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March 4, 2024

Alleged Leaked Renders Reveal Radical New Design for 12.9-inch iPad Air

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Jan 23, 2024

Stunning new alleged leaked CAD renders claim to reveal the design of a rumored new 12.9-inch iPad Air model, representing Apple’s largest-ever iPad Air to date. The radical redesign shows the tablet adopting an iPad Pro-esque form factor with slim bezels and a new rear camera bump.

Overview of the Leaked Renders

The alleged leaked renders originating from an unknown source show a tablet with a similar flat-edge industrial design to the existing iPad Pro lineup, eschewing the more curved back of the current 11-inch iPad Air.

Key features of the rendered design include:

  • 12.9-inch display with slim bezels
  • Dual rear camera bump in a vertical orientation
  • Volume buttons and power button along the top edge
  • Flat edges and squared-off corners like iPad Pro
  • Single front-facing camera along the top bezel when held in landscape
  • Four speaker grilles – two top and two bottom

If accurate, this would represent a major overhaul of the iPad Air design language. The current 4th-generation 11-inch iPad Air has thicker bezels, curved back edges, no camera bump, and a landscape-oriented front camera along the side bezel.

Alleged leaked iPad Air CAD renders:format(jpeg)/cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_image/image/74688152/iMore_LeakediPadAir2024_AppleInsider.0.jpg)

Alleged leaked CAD renders of a 12.9-inch iPad Air – via AppleInsider

The renders show an iPad that looks nearly identical to the existing 12.9-inch iPad Pro in terms of overall industrial design language, just with slightly thicker bezels. This reinforces past reports that the next iPad Air would take design cues from the Pro lineup.

If the leaked renders are legitimate, it seems Apple is aiming to further blur the lines between the Air and Pro tiers – possibly differentiating them mostly on performance, display quality, and accessories like Apple Pencil 2 support.

Why a Larger 12.9-inch iPad Air Makes Sense

Introducing a 12.9-inch variant would be a logical progression of the iPad Air line for several reasons:

  • Fills gap between 11-inch Air and 12.9 Pro
  • Lower cost alternative to 12.9 Pro
  • Brings popular 12.9 size to lower price point
  • Large canvas great for creators & multitaskers

The current iPad lineup features 11-inch and 12.9-inch options for the high-end iPad Pro, while the Air is limited to 11-inches. This leaves a gap for users who may want a larger canvas but don’t necessarily need or cannot afford all the pro bells & whistles.

Pricing comparison:

Model Starting Price
11-inch iPad Air $599
12.9-inch iPad Pro $1099

There is a massive $500 price difference between the entry-level 11-inch Air and 12.9-inch Pro models. This leaves plenty of room for a 12.9-inch Air to slot neatly between at around $799.

This would give an alternative option for those wanting more screen real estate without the huge price jump of going Pro. It also caters nicely to creators, designers, and multitaskers who crave more canvas but may not need the 120Hz ProMotion display or higher performance specs.

Additional Details from the Alleged Leaked Renders

The leaked CAD models show some other interesting changes compared to the current iPad Air 4:

Rear camera bump

Whereas the current iPad Air features flush cameras with no bump, the rendered model has a prominant vertical rear bump akin to iPhone and iPad Pro. It appears to house two cameras plus LiDAR, suggesting possible upgrades to the camera system.

The 4th-gen iPad Air has a single 12MP wide angle camera. A dual or even triple lens system with additions like ultrawide and telephoto would bring welcomed photographic flexibility.

Four-speaker audio

The rendered diagrams clearly show top and bottom speaker grilles, indicating a four-speaker system compared to the dual speakers in iPad Air 4. Four speakers paired with landscape orientation provides wider stereo separation for better immersion when consuming video content.

New front-facing camera position

When held in landscape orientation, the front camera is situated along the top bezels instead of the side. This may indicate a change to a landscape-optimized FaceTime camera system akin to the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, which also positions the front camera on the top (long edge) when held horizontally.

Timing: Potential for March or April 2023 Launch

So when could we expect to see this radical iPad Air redesign come to fruition? Reports indicate mass production ramping up between March and April 2023 for a likely launch around the same timeframe.

Noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted back in September 2022 that a completely revamped iPad Air would arrive in Q1 or Q2 of 2023. This likely launch window was echoed in a Digitimes report pointing to a 10.5 to 12-inch iPad Air set to begin mass production in the first half of this year.

More recently, Korean site The Elec reported that Samsung and LG have begun producing 11-inch and 12.9-inch OLED displays that are expected to be bound for new iPad Pro models coming in Q2 2023.

This aligns with a prediction from display analyst Ross Young that Apple is aiming for March or April availability for both iPad Pro and iPad Air updates. While the Pro would receive the newer mini-LED and OLED display technologies, the iPad Air would still represent a major redesign to bring its industrial design in line with its Pro siblings.

As such, the leaked renders – if legitimate – are well-timed to show off what we could expect for a Spring iPad lineup overhaul.

What About Internals, Pricing & Other Models?

The alleged leaked CAD drawings provide no clues about other expected updates beyond the physical redesign. However, if a 12.9-inch iPad Air launches this Spring there are a few other likely changes:

M2 chip

The current iPad Air features Apple’s previous generation M1 chip. Following Apple silicon rollout patterns, the logical next step would be an upgrade to the M2 chip featured already across other product lines like the MacBook Air.

Price bump

With a larger screen and the expected addition of features like a dual camera system, the next 12.9-inch iPad Air could see a price bump over the 11-inch 4th generation model. However, it should still slot below the 12.9-inch iPad Pro – most likely at $799.

11-inch Air gets redesign too

Don’t despair smaller tablet fans – rumors indicate the 11-inch iPad Air is in line for an updated design too. This would likely retain parity with its larger sibling in terms of features, also housing an M2 chip, dual camera system, landscape front camera, and four speaker audio.

iPad mini and iPad 10th gen updates less certain

Whether the diminuitive iPad mini or entry-level 10th generation iPad base model receive the same love this spring is unknown. The iPad Air is expected to be the main focus, bringing its specifications and design closer to parity with the pro line. The basic iPad and mini may plod along unchanged for now.

Outlook Beyond 2023: The Future of iPad Air

If Apple executes on the rumored 12.9-inch iPad Air as a sort of “iPad Pro Lite”, where could the Air line head in future generations?

With an iPadOS landscape centered around creative workflows and multitasking flexibility, further blurring between the Air and Pro tiers seems probable.

OLED displays on the horizon

The 2023 Pro is already rumored to adopt cutting-edge OLED display technology for superior contrast and pixel response compared to traditional IPS-based screens. This leaves the door open for OLED to cascade down to the Air line in 2024 or 2025 as manufacturing costs decrease.

Apple Pencil 2 Support

The latest iPad Air is already compatible with the first-generation Apple Pencil. However, upgrading to support the newer magnetically charging Apple Pencil 2 would allow the Air to catch up fully with the Pro’s stylus capabilities.

ProMotion variable refresh

One key differentiator remains the ProMotion display capabilities exclusive thus far to iPad Pro models. Bringing 120Hz variable refresh rates to the Air line would remove one of the last gaps separating it from the Pro tier from a marketing perspective.

In summary – if this week’s leaked iPad Air renders prove accurate – Apple seems poised to unleash its most radically redesigned mid-tier iPad yet. Blurring the lines further with iPad Pro both signals the company’s intent to prioritize creative workflows and multitasking, while also improving affordability for consumers. An exciting future looks on the cards for the iPad Air as its rumored progress hints at gradually matching and possibly one day displacing the “Pro” nomenclature.

References

Alleged leaked iPad Air CAD renders via AppleInsider:
https://appleinsider.com/articles/24/01/20/129-inch-ipad-air-cad-drawing-alludes-to-new-camera-bump

iPad Air redesign to take cues from Pro via MacRumors:
https://www.macrumors.com/2023/09/30/ipad-air-redesign-pro-style/

iPad Air and Pro updates for Spring 2023 – Ross Young:
https://www.macrumors.com/2023/12/04/young-ipad-pro-ipad-air-march-april/

2023 iPad updates with OLED displays – The Elec:
https://www.thelec.kr/news/articleView.html?idxno=8244

2023 iPad Air production plans – Digitimes:
https://www.digitimes.com/news/a20221007PD215.html

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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