Report: 9.7-inch iPad Pro Being Readied by Apple, Not an Air 3 After All

According to 9to5Mac, Apple is gearing up to announce and release a smaller 9.7-inch variant of their iPad Pro opposed to a third generation iPad Air which has been the rumor for quite some time now. However, now that we’re so close to the tablet’s initial announcement, it’s safe to say this probably will be the case.

Apple will further differentiate the next-generation 9.7-inch iPad from its predecessor by making it part of the new iPad Pro line, according to sources. Much like the MacBook Pro comes in 13-inch and 15-inch sizes, the iPad Pro will soon come in 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch variations. This trend follows Apple not calling its 12-inch MacBook a new Air despite developing the product as an apparent successor to the MacBook Air.

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The report goes on to say that the upcoming iPad will be announced on Tuesday, March 15th at Apple’s special event, will launch as soon as March 18th, and will feature nearly (if not exactly) the same specs as the 12.9-inch iPad Pro which makes sense since the upcoming 9.7-inch iPad is set to be a smaller variant of the Pro. The 9.7-inch iPad Pro will also likely support Smart Connector accessories like the Smart Keyboard (of course scaled down to better suit the 9.7-inch form factor) along with added support for tools such as the Apple Pencil.

The new 9.7-inch iPad Pro will debut at Apple’s Tuesday, March 15th event and begin shipping as soon as March 18th, we previously reported. The smaller iPad Pro will have nearly identical features and specifications as the bigger model, bringing along the A9X processor and RAM upgrades from the 12.9-inch model. It will also include the 12.9-inch model’s updated display technology to support the Apple Pencil.

We previously reported that the new 9.7-inch iPad model will include a Smart Connector, and now we have learned that Apple is preparing a smaller version of its Smart Keyboard cover attachment for the new model, and it likely will be ready for March.

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Other details about the smaller iPad Pro include quad stereo speakers built right into the tablet just like the larger 12.9-inch variant alongside identical color and storage capacities between the two Pros. Of course, the smaller 9.7-inch Pro will be priced closer to the Air family as it’s size and form factor will be nearly the same.

Like the 12.9-inch models, quad stereo speakers will be part of the hardware. The 9.7-inch iPad Pro is also expected to come in the same colors and storage capacities as the larger iPad Pro, but the pricing will be closer in line with the iPad Air models it will succeed.

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Something interesting about this report is it also states that Apple is slowing down production of older iPad mini and original Air models, meaning that the iPad mini 2 and first-gen iPad Air could be receiving a price cut when the new 9.7-inch Pro is announced.

I recently did a roundup of the latest rumors about the iPad Air 3 and I was pretty skeptical. However, now I think most of them are more likely to happen. The option of having a smaller iPad Pro makes a lot of sense on Apple’s part as it seems like a move that will make their iPad lineup a bit cleaner and tidier. I really think a 9.7-inch Pro is coming, and if you agree, let me know in the comments.

The upcoming March keynote Apple will host will be the scene where the unveiling of the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, iPhone 5se, and new Apple Watch options will take place.

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