Apple iPad Air 3 preview: Design, funktioner og spec
Den iPad Air 3 is due to be announced at an event later on this month, if rumours are to be believed anyway. More specifically, rumours suggest that it’ll be announced at an event on 21 March 2016 alongside the much-fabled 4in iPhone, unofficially dubbed the iPhone SE. But what can we expect from Apple’s latest 9.7in iPad? Here, we discuss what we’re likely to see from the iPad Air 3 in terms of its design, features and spec based on a flurry of rumours and leaks that have populated the internet over the last few months.
iPad Air 3 preview: Design and build
The iPad Air 3 is said to be (incredibly) thinner than the already lightweight iPad Air 2. While this has been ‘confirmed’ via leaks, we’re still sceptical about it. The iPad Air 2 is only 6.1mm thin, which we would like to point out is 1mm thinner than the iPhone 6s, while the iPad Air 3 reportedly measures in at an incredible 5mm, which would make it one of the thinnest tablets on the market. How has Apple managed this? While we’re not quite sure at the time of writing, the general consensus is that Apple has sacrificed battery life (to a certain extent) and decided to include a slightly thinner battery to accommodate the thinner chassis.
In terms of new design features, the iPad Air 3 is said to be much like a smaller iPad Pro. While the iPad Pro isn’t that different in terms of design to older iPads, there were a number of features that made it unique in Apple’s line-up – until now, anyway. The iPad Air 3 is said to feature the same four-speaker stereo setup that provided the iPad Pro with great sounding, loud audio that (Apple claims) automatically re-adjusts itself based on the orientation of the iPad.
That’s not the only iPad Pro-esque addition to the iPad Air 3, either – the iPad Air 3 is also said to feature a smart connector on the left hand side of the device, enabling the iPad to power connected accessories like keyboard covers. This should provide users with one less thing to worry about when using iPad accessories (although generally speaking, Bluetooth keyboards have fairly decent battery life anyway).
The iPad Air 3 is supposed to be the first iPad to feature the Series 7000 aluminium chassis, which made its debut on the Apple Watch (and then the iPhone 6s) in 2015, providing the devices with a more durable frame without the added weight. It should translate to fewer bumps and dents on your iPad over time, although we’re not sure that it’ll make an appearance, especially as the high-end iPad Pro doesn’t feature it. The iPad Air 3 should be available to buy in the fairly standard Silver, Gold and Space Grey variations.
iPad Air 3 preview: Features and spec
So, what separates the iPad Air 3 from its predecessors? Lets first start with the display. While Apple has reportedly decided to stick with the 9.7in Retina IPS display used in previous generations of the iPad Air (which is no bad thing, especially with a resolution of 2048×1536 and a pixel density of 264ppi) there are differences available, though not visible to the naked eye. Changes to the underlying technology means that the Apple Pencil, announced alongside the iPad Pro in 2015, should be compatible with the iPad Air 3. This is huge, especially for creatives that have wanted to use the Pencil without having to fork out for a 12.9in iPad Pro.
However, while many assumed that the iPad Air 3 would feature the same 3D Touch technology used in the iPhone 6s, probably won’t be the case. It would be a strange move for Apple to offer 3D Touch functionality to its mid-range iPad Air 3 when the high-end iPad Pro (only released in November 2015) doesn’t feature the technology. Based on this, we assume that the unannounced iPad Pro 2 will be the first to feature the tech, and the standard iPads will follow suit.
Along with improved screen technology, the iPad Air 3 is said to boast improvements under the hood. In terms of processing power, the iPad Air 3 should feature the same incredibly powerful A9X chip as is featured on the iPad Pro, allowing the iPad Air 3 to perform processor-hungry tasks like editing two 4K video clips at once on iMovie, or running two apps side by side. In terms of storage, you’ll have the fairly standard 16, 64 and 128GB variations to choose from.
The only other real addition to the iPad Air 3 is said to be the rear-facing camera flash, a feature requested by users for quite some time. While some may argue that the iPad isn’t a device meant for taking photos and as such, Apple shouldn’t waste too much time on them, we agree that it’s nice to have the option available to you if needed. It seems Apple thought so too, and along with adding an LED flash, the company has reportedly upgraded the rear-facing camera to an 8Mp iSight camera, and given the front-facing camera a small bump up to 1.2Mp too, bringing it in line with the iPad Pro.
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iPad Air 3 preview: Software
In terms of software, the iPad Air 3 will feature Apple’s latest operating system, iOS 9. More specifically, it’ll run iOS 9.3 which is due to be released days after the announcement of the iPad in March and brings with it a number of improvements. The biggest feature of iOS 9.3 is the introduction of a Fl.ux-esuqe Night Shift feature, which tweaks the colour temperature of your display in the evenings to minimise the levels of blue light emitted. Why? Because blue light generated by many electronic displays trick your brain into thinking its daytime – not ideal when you’re just about to get to sleep.
Night Shift mode changes the colour temperature of the display to something slightly more orange in the evenings (similar colour to the sunset) to effectively ‘trick’ your brain. We’ve been using the Night Shift mode in the public iOS 9.3 beta and we can confirm that we do find it easier to fall asleep in the evenings, although it’s hard to quantify results to prove it.
You can find out more about iOS 9, including the iOS 9.3 update here: iOS 9 features & update advice: iOS 9.3 coming with Night Shift mode & new 3D Touch features
The rumoured spec looks promising, but we’ll have to wait until the iPad Air 3 is officially announced before we can pass any kind of informed judgement on the product. Make sure you head back here in the coming weeks, as Apple is said to be announcing the iPad Air 3 at an event on 21 March 2016.