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Speculation suggests Apple could debut new 9.7-inch iPad next week

With Apple rumored to unveil new products next week, but no media event seemingly planned, onlookers have been left to guess what— if anything— the company could launch with so little fanfare. One wild guess: A new 9.7-inch iPad, potentially replacing the iPad Air 2.




Citing unnamed Japanese analysts, Macotakara reported on Wednesday that suppliers from China seem to believe that a so-called "iPad Pro 2" could be announced next week.

Specifically, it was said that the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro may feature the same specifications as the current model, with the exception of a beefier "A10X" CPU, enhanced from the A10 chip found in the iPhone 7.

Apple is rumored to unveil three new iPads this spring, one of which is said to be a new entry-level 9.7-inch model that could replace the current iPad Air 2. Currently, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro with A9X chip has an entry price of $599, while the A8X-powered iPad Air 2, also 9.7 inches, starts at $399.

Rumors have suggested that the current 9.7-inch iPad Pro could be superseded by a new 10.5-inch model featuring a slightly larger display and new design. It has been speculated that Apple could keep largely the same form factor as the 9.7-inch model by shrinking the bezels around the screen, giving users more room to work with on a bigger panel without added bulk.

With the 10.5-inch model speculated to be Apple's new flagship iPad, that could leave the 9.7-inch form factor with a minor spec bump and price cut. For Apple to launch such a minor product without a keynote presentation would not be unprecedented. However, it would be odd to quietly launch just weeks ahead of new models, considering new high-end 10.5- and 12.9-inch iPads are expected to debut imminently.




The latest guesswork about what Apple could announce next week has been driven by a somewhat vague report from MacRumors issued Monday, claiming that new products could be unveiled by the company as soon as next week. Citing "reputable supply chain analysts," that report indicated that Apple is "most likely" to launch new products between March 20 and 24, though no specific products were named.

Apple usually sends invitations to media presentations some 10 days in advance, and with no sign of a keynote next week, the launch of a new form factor 10.5-inch iPad seems highly unlikely. Subsequent reports have claimed Apple is planning an early April event to launch the new flagship iPad.