Earlier this month, 9to5Mac reported that Apple is currently developing two new iPad Air models alongside an updated iPad mini. A new report today from DigiTimes adds more fuel to this fire, saying that Apple is prepping a 12.9-inch version of the iPad Air.
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12.9-inch iPad Air rumors
In our report at the beginning of the month, we explained that Apple is working on two iPads with the identifiers J537 and J538, which are based on the iPad Air. At the time, we speculated that this could be a larger-screened companion to the current 10.9-inch iPad Air form factor.
DigiTimes now says that Apple’s iPad Air roadmap includes a new 12.9-inch model that uses traditional LCD backlighting, rather than mini-LED. This aligns with the current iPad Air, which also uses LCD backlighting.
“The forthcoming 12.9-inch iPad Air may feature conventional LCD backlighting as opposed to mini-LED backlighting,” the report says while citing anonymous “industry sources.”
Given that DigiTimes reports are often based on supply chain sources, this likely means that there is evidence of a new 12.9-inch LCD panel in Apple’s supply chain pipeline. Currently, Apple does not sell any product with a 12.9-inch LCD panel. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro uses mini-LED, and the expectation is that the iPad Pro lineup will switch to OLED sometime in early 2024.
If Apple were to bifurcate the iPad Air lineup based on screen size, it would match up with the iPad Pro strategy. This would give customers a big-screen iPad option without shelling out $1,099 for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. It’s also possible that the 12.9-inch iPad Pro gets even more expensive with the M3 and OLED revision coming next year.
There’s clearly room between the current iPad Air and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro for a more affordable option with a large screen. The iPad lineup is confusing, but Apple could streamline it by ditching the 9th generation model and potentially cutting the price of the iPad 10.
Adding a big-screened iPad Air would also align with the MacBook Air, which is now available in 13-inch and 15-inch form factors. The iPhone 15 is also available in the same screen sizes as its Pro counterparts.
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