iPad Air 3 release date, specs: Device to be the designated entry-level model in the iPad Pro 2 series?

Fans have been expecting Apple to finally come out with the iPad Air 3 later this year. However, speculations suggest that due to shifting focus on flagship lineups, Apple will position the iPad Air 3 in an early 2017 debut, serving as the entry-level slate to the iPad Pro 2 lineup.

According to reports, the iPad Air 3 is supposed to launch together with the new mobile product lineups of Apple in its anticipated September launch. However, the event concluded with only the iPhone 7 and the Watch 2 taking center stage, and the new Apple slate is a no-show. Accordingly, it is said that Apple may be thinking of an overhaul in its tablet lineup, with the iPad Air 3 debuting early next year alongside the iPad Pro 2 instead.

Casual fans may observe that if this will be the case, there will be two 9.7-inch Apple tablets that are going to be released next year. However, it is certain that on a side-by-side comparison, the iPad Air 3 will serve as the entry-level slate in the new Apple lineup. The 9.7-inch iPad Air is supposed to feature an A9 chipset, the previous flagship processor that is used on the iPhone 6 and 6S. The iPad Pro 2 base model, however, is a step-up variant as it is rumored to use an A9X chipset.

Meanwhile, even if there will be two 9.7-inch Apple slates next year, the Cupertino-based tech giant already has a stop-gap for its market base, as it is rumored that the iPad Pro 2 lineup will expand. Apple will supposedly be adding a new, 10.5-inch version of the iPad Pro 2. This variant, together with the larger 12.9-inch version, will serve as the top-tier iterations for the lineup, featuring the newer A10X chipset.

There are also talks suggesting that Apple is placing the iPad Air 3 release together with the iPad Pro 2 since the Air variant will be last in the series. Apple will allegedly discontinue the iPad Air and will focus on the iPad Pro from 2017 onwards.