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12.9-inch iPad Air might be Apple’s big surprise in next year’s lineup

Published Nov 13th, 2023 12:54PM EST
iPad Air (2022) Main
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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It’s mid-November 2023, and it should be clear to any iPad fan out there that Apple won’t update any iPads in its lineup this year. The iPad 11, iPad mini 7, and iPad Air 6 models won’t launch until sometime next year. That’s also when Apple will update the iPad Pro line with OLED panels and other design changes.

It might all start with the iPad Air 6 refresh, which could launch early next year. Well-known Apple insider Ming-Chi Kuo said in a new report that Apple has a surprise for buyers, prepping a 12.9-inch iPad Air model. This would be the first of its kind, and a more affordable large-screen iPad than the upcoming 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

The analyst said on Medium that the key iPad upgrades coming next year are the M3 processor and the OLED displays. However, iPad shipments in 2024 likely won’t reach 2022 figures. Kuo estimates sales to sit between 52 million and 54 million next year. Apple sold 63 million units last year and will sell about 50 million iPads this year.

It all starts with the iPad Air

The 2024 iPad Air series (iPad Air 6) will include two models, per Kuo. We’re looking at 10.9-inch and 12.9-inch sizes. The 6th-gen iPad Air will reportedly hit production in the year’s first quarter. A launch date isn’t mentioned, however.

As for the 12.9-inch iPad Air 6, Kuo says the tablet is an “all-new model” rather than a repurposed 12.9-inch iPad Pro. The tablet does not have a mini-LED screen, but it features an oxide backplane just like the mini-LED iPad Pros. The component should improve display performance compared to the current iPad Air.

Apple iPad Pro Display
iPad Pro (2022) Display Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

iPad Pro OLED

Apple will replace the current 6th-gen 12.9-inch iPad Pro and 4th-gen 11-inch iPad Pro with OLED versions. The new iPad Pros should hit production late in the first quarter of next year or in the second quarter.

The OLED panels will feature tandem designs and LTPO backplanes. Apple used the latter in the iPhone 15 Pros. The OLED screens will feature better performance and more efficient power use than the current mini-LED screens. The complexity of these designs reportedly forced Apple to push back mass production. Apple wanted to manufacture the new iPad Pros in early 2024.

Kuo also says the new tablets will feature an M3 processor and the “improved form factor designs.” It’s unclear what the redesign will bring to the table.

The insider also expects price hikes for the iPad Pros. The iPad Air 6 might be to blame for that. The 12.9-inch model should be more expensive than the 10.9-inch version. It’s unclear what sort of processor bump the iPad Airs will get. The M3 would be a great surprise, but the M2 seems like the more likely choice for the mid-range tablet.

Kuo warns that the larger iPad Air, combined with more expensive OLED iPad Pro models will reduce shipments. He expects Apple to sell between 6 million and 8 million iPad Pro OLED units.

Apple iPad Mini 2021 Front
Apple’s iPad mini 2021 sitting on a table. Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

iPad mini 7 and iPad 11

Kuo also addressed the cheaper iPads that Apple will unveil next year. According to him, the iPad mini 7 was also supposed to hit production in the first quarter of 2024. But Apple will start manufacturing it in the second half of next year.

The iPad mini 7 is the most exciting of the bunch for me due to its size. It’s the tablet I’ve been waiting for from Apple since the beginning of this year.

The iPad 11 will also hit mass production in the second half of 2024. The analyst doesn’t go over the iPad 11 upgrades, but he says that the iPad 9 will be discontinued before the end of 2024. It’s unclear if the iPad 10 will remain in Apple’s inventory at a lower price point once the iPad 11 arrives.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.