With the iPad Air 2 we said that Apple had taken the perfect tablet and somehow made it even better. So where does it go from there? Well, hopefully do the same thing again.
We’re not expecting a quantum leap with the iPad Air 3, but some things are bound to change. The processor will obviously get a boost for one and for better or worse it’s entirely possible that it will get even slimmer and lighter than the iPad Air 2.
Then there are things we’d like to see, but are less likely, such as 32GB becoming the smallest size. For now we don’t have much to go on, but with an October announcement likely we expect to hear more rumors over the coming months.
News and rumors
There are some things about the iPad Air 3 which we can be fairly confident about. For one thing it’s bound to run iOS 9, as that should be available by the time it launches.
It’s also sure to get a newer, faster processor. The iPad Air 2 has an A8X chip, so we’d expect either an A9 or A9X processor for the iPad Air 3.
The A9 is first likely to land in the iPhone 7 and it’s rumored to be 15% smaller, 20% more powerful and 35% more power efficient than the A8, so that’s the minimum we’re likely to see, but if the iPad Air 3 uses an A9X processor it should be better still.
However we wouldn’t expect any more RAM, as Apple only just upgraded to 2GB with the iPad Air 2.
The design probably won’t be much different, so expect a slim aluminium shell. If anything it might get even slimmer and lighter, as that’s the direction Apple has been going with its Air range, but with the iPad Air 2 already just 6.1mm thick and 437g we’re not at all convinced that a further reduction would be beneficial.
Expect Touch ID to make a return and for the screen to be 9.7 inches again, though a boost in resolution is always possible and if you’re craving a larger screen Apple is also thought to be working on an iPad Pro.
What we want to see
1. Ditch the 16GB size
With the iPad Air 2 Apple got rid of the 32GB option and offered 64GB for the same price. That was much appreciated but oddly a 16GB model was still in play.
Given how big many apps are now getting and the fact that no iPad is ever going to offer expandable storage that just doesn’t really cut it, especially if you want to store videos, games and music on your slate too, which is half the fun of having one. So we’d like to see Apple finally abandon the 16GB size and make 32GB the smallest.
2. Better slow motion video
Any regular readers will know we’re not the biggest fans of cameras on tablets, but if you’re going to include a feature at least do it right, which Apple hasn’t really done with slow motion video on the iPad Air 2.
It’s an option, but it’s capped at 120fps, which just doesn’t cut it when the less powerful iPhone 6 can reach 240fps. So we want twice the frames and twice the smoothness on the iPad Air 3, which can actually use the feature better as it’s got that larger viewfinder.
3. Bring back the silencer
While the iPad Air 2 is a better device in most ways than the iPad Air, one thing changed for the worse. We’re talking of course about the removal of the silencing switch.
Technically it’s not needed any more, as silencing the tablet is easily achievable through Control Center, but having a switch was much, much easier so we’d like to see it come back for the iPad Air 3.
4. Don’t make it any thinner
There’s a worrying trend among smartphone and tablet makers to create ever slimmer devices. There’s no denying that slimmer slates can look better and be more portable, but the most extreme examples are slightly ludicrous, not to mention impractical, as they force batteries to be shrunk and hamper the device’s durability.
At 6.1mm thick the iPad Air 2 is right on the edge of what we’d consider to be an acceptable thickness, so we really don’t want the iPad Air 3 to get any thinner.
5. Better battery life
The iPad Air 2′s battery life is more than reasonable, with the slate happily chugging along for up to 10 hours of web browsing or video viewing, but it could still always be better and if you’re an avid gamer you’ll find its life is cut significantly short.
We hope then that the iPad Air 3 will get a battery boost, so we can be confident that a transatlantic flight or epic train journey won’t leave us dying of boredom.
6. Up the resolution
The iPad Air 2 already has one of the best tablet screens around, but if Apple keeps a 1536 x 2048 resolution for the iPad Air 3 it risks feeling a bit dated.
The likes of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S and Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet already have it beaten. In fact when it comes to pixel density both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have the edge and let’s not even get started on all the QHD phones we’re seeing now.
Sure, tablets aren’t phones, but with all the media we enjoy on them they’re every bit as deserving of a super sharp screen.
7. Improved daylight visibility
As well as being sharper we hope the iPad Air 3′s screen is easier to see outdoors, especially in bright sunlight.
You can just about use the iPad Air 2 without a roof over your head but there’s plenty of room for improvement here. A big selling point of tablets is mobile entertainment and one that you can’t really use outside is significantly limited in that sense.
8. Front-facing speakers
Given that the iPad Air 2 just has a single speaker it manages to kick out some fairly impressive sounds, but stereo speakers would be a definite improvement.
While we’re on the subject it would be great if they were moved from the base of the slate to the front, so that they’re actually oriented towards you when you’re watching videos and playing games.