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New iPad Air 3 release date & new features rumours

Christopher Minasians | June 24, 2016
iPad Air 3 concept video is everything the iPad Pro 9.7in should've been and more

It's generally a sound prediction to make, given that the iPad Air 1 was thinner than the iPad 4 and the iPad Air 2 was thinner than the iPad Air 1. The iPad Air 2 is alreadyreally thin, mind you, and we do sometimes wonder how much thinner tablets need to get before the compromises start to outweigh the benefits. The Air 2 is sturdy and has stood up to more than a year's heavy and frequent use, but we still recall the nervousness with which we handled it in the early days: it's hard to see an even more slender iPad Air 3 inspiring a great deal of confidence in its ability to withstand bending, chucking on a sofa, holding by one edge etc.

(Note that the iPad Pro 9.7in, which improves on the iPad Air 2 in most other respects, is the same thickness.)

If batteries are getting smaller, couldn't they just keep it the same size and incorporate a higher-capacity battery unit, and give us a few more hours away from the charger?

Indeed, one rumour suggests that the Air 3's thinner chassis will actually mean it hasa lower-capacity battery unit than the Air, which seems crazy to us. (Even though improvements in battery technology could mean that this lower-capacity unit actually lasts for a comparable length of time in practice, it seems barmy to consciously choose not to improve battery life when simply keeping the same capacity unit would achieve this.)

Original iPad and iPad Air 2: thickness comparison

iPad Air 3 design rumours: 7000-series aluminium body

We mentioned above our general nervousness that a thinner iPad Air 3 would also be less robust. But one other change to its physical design could help with that.

The Tampa Bay Review thinks the iPad Air 3 is likely to be made of 7000-series aluminium, like the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. There's a certain logic to this: spending the extra cash on stronger materials to make the newest iPhones more bend-proof than their predecessors was a popular move after the (possibly overstated) traumas of Bendgate. But it does raise the question of why the iPad Pro (which is more valuable) and the iPad mini 4 (which is more portable, and therefore more likely to get crammed into a pocket) missed out on this upgrade.

If the Air 3 is thinner than either of those devices then we have an answer, but that only poses another: what is it about the Air lineup in particular that makes it more deserving of a super-thin body than those other Apple tablets?

 

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