When Apple unveiled its newly redesigned iPad Air last month, it was one of the few hardware products to take the stage without an imminent release date.
Unlike the new Apple Watch Series 6, Apple Watch SE, and 8th-generation iPad, which all landed in stores the following Friday, with brand new iPad Air, Apple simply indicated that users would be able to order it sometime in October.
However, Apple didn’t quite say when in October it would be coming, and if recent rumours are to be believed, it might actually be arriving sooner this month rather than later — in fact, since it’s now technically October, it could be launched as soon as this week.
The new iPad Air is a fairly unique entry in Apple’s lineup, since no doubt due to complications with the ongoing health pandemic, it’s currently slated to have the best processor that Apple currently makes — the new A14 chip that’s also almost certainly coming to the iPhone when it launches later this month. It also features the design of the iPad Pro, while omitting the TrueDepth camera and Face ID capabilities in favour of a side-button Touch ID sensor.
The rumours of its imminent launch actually come from two reasonably reliable sources that rarely agree on much, which gives then even more credence. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, shared yesterday that Apple’s marketing materials for the new mid-range iPad are starting to arrive in Apple’s retail stores.
Leaker Jon Prosser also tweeted on Tuesday advising people to get their money ready for the new iPad.
While the delay of the new iPad Air could simply be due to the usual manufacturing timelines, Daring Fireball’s John Gruber has suggested that it might actually be more about Apple deliberately holding it back to align with its announcement of its new iPhone lineup.
But the no-suffix A14 in the new iPad Air is almost certainly effectively identical to the A14 we’ll see next month in this year’s new iPhones. I truly wonder if that’s the only reason Apple isn’t shipping new iPad Airs yet — to keep A14 performance under wraps for the iPhone event.John Gruber, Daring Fireball
After all, this is the first time in Apple history that the company has debuted its latest A-series chip — the A14 in this case — not in an iPhone, but in an iPad — and in a mid-range iPad at that.
As Gruber and Jason Snell of Six Colors have both pointed out, Apple’s reveal of the A14 chip at last month’s event didn’t have the same level of pizzazz that usually accompanies the unveiling of a new A-series chip, likely because it wanted to hold back some of its cards for the actual iPhone 12 when it debuts later this month; it’s almost certainly at the iPhone event where we’ll hear Apple laud its A14 chip as the best piece of silicon that the company has ever produced.
Of course, since the new iPad Air packs in the exact same chip, Apple also wants to be careful about letting the cat out of the bag too soon in terms of allowing people to get their hands on it and start sharing benchmarks before it’s ready to show off what it can really do in an iPhone, rather than just a mid-range iPad.
If this is truly the case, then it’s likely that Apple will hold back shipping out the iPad Air to customers until closer to the iPhone 12 launch, which at this point is expected to happen on Oct. 13th, meaning we likely won’t see the iPad Air actually showing up in stores just yet.
However, that doesn’t mean that Apple couldn’t choose to open pre-orders for the new iPad this week, of course, and if that followed the normal timeline that it does for other major new releases, this means that the new units would show up in stores and start arriving in customers’ hands next Friday, which would be close enough to the Apple event not to create a whole bunch of chatter about the A14 before Apple re-reveals it as part of the iPhone 12, while also getting it out before the iPhone announcement so that the various reviews don’t get completely lost in the shuffle.