Leaked images this week have given us our best look yet at the radical redesign Apple reportedly has in store for its next-generation iPad Air, expected to be unveiled this spring. Highlighting the flagship features of the 2024 iPad lineup will be an all-new 12.9-inch iPad Air with slim bezels and a nearly edge-to-edge display, essentially bringing a “budget” iPad Pro to market.
Larger Display and Slim Bezels Bring Premium Design to Lower Price Point
Detailed CAD renders showcasing the new 2024 iPad Air reveal a tablet that on first glance looks nearly indistinguishable from the high-end 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models. But by wrapping that large, gorgeous 12.9-inch display in the chassis of an iPad Air, Apple appears poised to deliver a much more affordable big-screen tablet option to consumers.
Table 1. Comparison of rumored 12.9-inch 2024 iPad Air with current 11-inch iPad Pro and 12.9-inch iPad Pro
The nearly bezel-less design matches the modern aesthetic of the latest iPad Pros, with rounded corners, a single rear camera in a large bump, and a magnetic Apple Pencil attachment along the right-side edge. Early analysis of the dimensions suggests the 12.9-inch iPad Air will have a similar footprint to the current 12.9-inch iPad Pro, giving users that spacious screen real estate without the laptop-rivaling size.
By dramatically enlarging the entry-level iPad Air while keeping its key DNA intact, including Smart Connector support and compatibility with 2nd-gen Apple Pencil and Magic Keyboard attachments, Apple seems poised to deliver a more affordable iPad for creative pros and average users alike seeking extra screen space for working, creating, and gaming.
Redesigned Camera Bump and Internals Also Getting BoostedÂ
But it’s not just the screen getting supersized in the next iPad Air refresh. The newly leaked CAD renders also showcase a much larger, rounded-square rear camera bump that mirrors the iPhone camera design rather than current iPad models. This major change strongly suggests significantly upgraded camera hardware is coming to this model.
Prior rumors pointed to possible upgrades including optical image stabilization, TrueTone flash, and ultra-wide lens support being added alongside typical year-over-year sensor and aperture improvements. While unlikely to rival the multi-camera powerhouse in the latest iPad Pros, the 2024 iPad Air camera system now looks ready to handle more photography and scanning/AR duties better suited to that enlarged display.
And on the inside, benchmark leaks and supply chain checks both back rumors that Apple’s latest and greatest mobile chip, the M2, will power this new iPad Air iteration. Expect supercharged performance perfect for gaming, editing workflows, design work, and more compute-heavy applications. The jump to the M2 would make the 2024 iPad Air run only slightly behind the premium M2 Pro and M2 Max iPad Pro chips in real-world speed.
Broader 2024 iPad Lineup Reportedly Adding New OLED Models
But the radical iPad Air redesign is likely just part of a broader 2024 iPad lineup shakeup rumored to also include new OLED models, larger 11-inch iPad Pro debuting, and spec bumps across the board.
Noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reports Apple supply partner BOE recently began production on slightly smaller 10.86-inch OLED sheets bound for upcoming iPad Pro models. Though he doesn’t specify which, this screen dimension paired with reports of 11-inch and 12.9-inch second-generation OLED iPad Pros point to the smaller size finally getting the OLED treatment for improved contrast and dynamic range.
Fellow display industry analysts Ross Young and DSCC previously reported OLED iPad production would kick off in January ahead of a Spring 2024 launch. And just this week Patently Apple and Korean site The Elec reported Samsung Display fired up production on 11-inch tablet OLEDs for Apple’s next premium tablets.
Combining these reports paints a compelling picture of Apple preparing bigger 11-inch and 12.9-inch OLED iPad Pros while simultaneously growing the LCD iPad Air to better differentiate this tablet line for users less concerned with perfect blacks and HDR performance. This strategy allows Apple to upsell Pro buyers on the OLED’s picture quality advantages and useful Mini-LED backlighting features like dimmable extreme brightness and deep contrast.
Launch Timeframe Reportedly Set for March or April Product Unveiling Event
So when can buyers expect to get their hands on all these new iPad models for 2024?
Noted Apple product roadmap leaker Mark Gurman made waves last week with a PowerOn Newsletter report claiming Apple’s engineers and designers are on schedule to finalize work and ramp up manufacturing for no less than four new iPad models plus a new MacBook Air in time for an unveiling event in “a month or two.”
While exact dates are never guaranteed this far in advance, Gurman’s track record of pre-announcing Apple’s surprise product launch plans is unmatched. And the reported early Spring window slots perfectly with Apple’s typical March or April events used for recent years’ iPhone SE and iPad hardware refreshes spaced between the holiday launches and summer developer conference.
In fact, Gurman’s leaked iPad/Mac event preview came precisely six months after 2021’s iPhone 13 and Apple Watch Series 7 unveiling, hinting at Apple’s desire for a balanced product portfolio release schedule rather than overwhelming buyers all at once during the back-to-school and holiday shopping surge.
What’s Next: iPad Mini Getting OLED, ProMotion?
And Gurman’s report merely sets the stage for even more dramatic iPad upgrades likely already deep into planning for later this year and 2025. Well-connected Apple commentator Luke Miani recently claimed based on supply chain sources that Apple hopes to deliver a seventh-generation iPad Mini before 2024 is over.
This smaller tablet is expected to finally hop on the OLED bandwagon after test production manufacturing checks reportedly started last November. And to really tempt creative pros who value that HDR-ready display tech in an ultra-portable form factor, adding variable 120Hz ProMotion to a future iPad Mini now looks well within reach too.
So while the radical iPad Air redesign rightfully captures the current spotlight, it’s just the opening act for what’s shaping up to be Apple’s most exciting iPad year ever – complete with OLED everything, mini tablet resurgence, and the continuing crossover evolution of iPads transforming into mobile MacBook competitors. Buckle up!
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.