There’s no doubt about it, the iPad is having a tough time lately. Its most recent year over year quarterly sales were down a staggering 25%. To be fair, however, that’s not just iPad sales. All tablet sales have been tanking. It turns out that, unlike smartphones, most people don’t feel the need to upgrade a tablet every year despite speed and feature improvements.
This isn’t really the case with phones because we use them all the time and in a variety of situations. Phones go everywhere and do everything with us which is why cases and protective shields are so popular — nobody likes using a smashed up phone for the duration of a 18-24 month contract. Phones takes a battering. But tablets are kind of different; their existence is a lot less frantic and fraught with danger.
Perhaps that’s why Apple hasn’t updated the iPad Air in over a year. The company gave the Air time off in 2015 to instead unveil the iPad Pro, which estimates peg at over 2 million sales to date. But rumors have it that Apple is holding a special launch event in March where we will see the introduction of the 4-inch iPhone 5se, new Apple Watch bands (ugh), and yes, a new iPad.
Up until very recently, it was believed this new iPad was going to be an Air model, however, all the latest intelligence points towards the upcoming tablet being a new addition to Apple’s iPad Pro lineup — a 9.7in iPad Pro, to be specific.
This sort of makes sense too, particularly if Apple is bringing support for its accessories and Apple Pencil to the smaller iPad. Also, the Air brand is a smidge stale and Apple’s iPad Pro has been making a lot of friends since it first landed last year, so attempting to tap into that with a new, smaller iPad sort of makes sense.
No one knows for sure what features the iPad Air 3 will have, but here is our advice if Apple wants to put flagging sales on an upwards trend.
When it comes to iPhones, most people don’t want a thinner device because that usually means you need to sacrifice battery size and life. However, the iPad has a much larger surface area, which means it can hold much larger batteries. That means the thinner Apple can make it, the better. Currently the iPad Air 2 sits at 6.1mm thin. Shave a millimeter or more off that and we’re talking a truly impressive device worth buying.
The iPad Pro introduced the Smart Connector, a new port that allows advanced accessories to be plugged into the iPad, such as Apple’s Smart Keyboard. We’re really hoping this new iPad gets the Smart Connector treatment too. Seeing smarter keyboards for use on a smaller version of the Pro would be a godsend to making it a true laptop replacement.
A better camera with flash
You wouldn’t believe how many people I see walking around London taking pictures with their iPad. I myself would never do it, but hey, as the saying goes the best camera is the one you have with you. Right now the iPad Air 2 features a respectable 8MP rear camera and a paltry 1.2MP front camera. Boost the front to 5MP for FaceTime calls and the rear to 12MP and slap on a flash and now you’re talking.
A less obvious cellular antenna
The iPad Air comes in two main models: Wi-Fi and Cellular. The cellular model has an ugly plastic backplate at the top of the rear case so its 3G and 4G antennas can get a signal. Rumors have it Apple is doing away with the rear antenna bands on the iPhone 7. Lets hope we get a preview of this on the new iPad.
Apple Pencil support
Another thing the iPad Pro has is the Apple Pencil–Apple’s stylus that has gotten rave reviews from graphic designers and artists. But the Pencil is only limited to the iPad Pro for now. We’re really hoping the iPad Pro 9.7in gets Pencil support because sometimes you don’t need a 12.1-inch canvas to get your art out; a 9.7-inch one works great too.
Rose Gold color option
I don’t care if you don’t think it’s a manly color, the Rose Gold color option on the iPhone 6s is the most kick ass, bold color choice Apple has ever made. It’s light pink huge is the most stylish of all the iPhone colors out there. Let’s hope Apple brings this color over to the iPad Pro 9.7in too.
The iPad Air introduced an all new A9X chipset that puts other A-series chips to shame. The A9X chipset is Apple’s third-generation 64-bit chip that is a staggering 22x faster than the first iPad. Apple isn’t shy about advertising how fast this chip is either. On its site it boasts “The A9X, our third-generation chip with 64‑bit desktop‑class architecture, gives iPad Pro the power to easily take on tasks that were once reserved for workstations and PCs. And tasks you’d never consider doing on a PC.”
It is because of the A9X that the iPad Pro will be able to edit up to three streams of 4K video simultaneously–something many laptops would struggle to do. Pack that chip into a smaller iPad and you’ve got us very interested.
32GB base storage, minimum
Apple needs to drop the 16GB entry level storage option. Sure, that’s enough for someone who only uses the iPad to browse the web, but the moment you start taking a lot of pictures, video, or downloading a lot of games that storage gets used up right quick. A base model 32GB iPad Air would make the device a no-brainer for a lot of people.
But those are just our suggestions. Tell us what you’d like to see included inside the next iPad in the comments below.