A new leaked rendering purports to show the long-rumored 12-plus-inch iPad, expected to be called the “iPad Pro” or “iPad Air Plus,” providing the first claimed glimpse at the device’s features. The image, supplied to French technology site NoWhereElse by a source claiming to work for Apple supplier Foxconn, reveals a new speaker grille next to the lock button, suggesting that Apple’s larger iPad won’t simply be an enlarged version of the company’s existing 9.7-inch model.
While the leaked iPad image displays only what is presumed to be the top-right corner of the device, the source revealed additional information about the iPad’s anticipated feature set. The “iPad Air Plus” is expected to be between 6.9 and 7.5mm thick (the current 9.7-inch iPad Air 2 and 7.9-inch iPad mini 3 both have a thickness of 7.5mm), utilize a 12.2-to-12.9-inch display, and feature four speakers, two on the top edge and two on the bottom edge of the chassis.
The design of the current iPad Air 2
The current iPad models only have two speakers, both on the bottom edge flanking the Lightning connector. The addition of two speakers to the top of the “iPad Air Plus” may allow users to enjoy enhanced stereo sound, improve the device’s overall volume output and quality, or offer a new feature such as virtual surround sound (Dolby is in the process of integrating the company’s immersive Atmos audio technology into smartphones and tablets, although no information about a possible relationship between Dolby and Apple is known).
This weekend’s leaked rendering supports earlier rumors, including a supposed leaked schematic, that also showed top and bottom speakers and a 12.2-inch display. It is expected that Apple will position the larger iPad as a productivity-focused device, with possible support for true side-by-side app multitasking.
A larger iPad has been rumored for several years, but has thus far failed to materialize. Industry analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reported earlier this year that Apple had initially intended to launch the “iPad Air Plus” in 2014, but that development of the device was sidetracked, first by software design issues, then by strong demand for the iPhone 6 Plus, which forced Apple to reallocate manufacturing resources to meet the demand. Continued demand for the iPhone, coupled with the impending launch of the Apple Watch, have reportedly pushed the larger iPad’s introduction back further, to the second quarter of this year.