A few recent rumors have pointed to Apple launching its 3rd-gen iPhone SE in March or April of this year at a virtual event and, if the latest whispers on the grapevine are anything to go by, we could be seeing the iPad Air 5 announced at the same time.
Japanese tech blog Mac Otakara (opens in new tab) has claimed via a "reliable source in China" that both the iPhone SE 3 and 5th-gen iPad Air will launch in 'the spring of 2022' (so between March-May).
The latest leak claims that the overall design of the 2020 iPad Air 4 will be retained in its fifth iteration, including its single-lens primary camera, 10.9-inch display and squared edges.
However, as is to be expected, the internals are due for an upgrade – chief among them, the A15 Bionic chipset of the iPhone 13 range is rumored to be powering the iPad Air 5, as well as 5G support for the cellular models and a 12MP ultrawide front-facing camera.
2021 saw Apple introduce the New iPad 10.2 (the ninth in its standard lineup) as well as the powerful M1-toting iPad Pro 11 and larger iPad Pro 12.9. The company even launched a 6th-gen iPad Mini to replace its 2019 model.
Given that every other active model in the iPad lineup has seen a very recent refresh, it stands to reason that the 2020 iPad Air 4 is due for a successor. With that said, as always, this is a rumor and nothing official, so take it with a grain of salt.
Analysis: padding out the range
With no less than five iPad products to currently choose from – and all of these with a further array of configuration options – it may seem that Apple is trying to baffle us with choices.
The cheapest option doesn't have the smallest screen, the thinnest option isn't the most compact nor the lightest (and it isn't the Air oddly), and the power of each iPad doesn't correlate entirely with its price... so when trying to pick certain suitable traits, it's a matter of compromise.
The fifth iteration of the iPad Air may bring some balance to this equation by matching the pricing more directly to the chipset on board, and (if the rumors are true) it will essentially be positioned as a less powerful iPad Pro 11 with a few other concessions.
Whether or not we need this immense array of options is likely answered in the affirmative by Apple's market research, which we expect is rather exhaustive. Regardless, it's clear now that the 'Air' suffix no longer denotes the thinnest and lightest model, but rather the 'Pro-but-not-too-Pro' model.