Rumor: 10.5" iPad Pro with 'A10X' CPU to ship in first quarter of 2017

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A fourth screen size is coming to Apple's iPad lineup in early 2017, supply chain rumors continue to reiterate, with the latest report claiming it will run a faster version of the A10 chip found in the iPhone 7.

Production of the rumored 10.5-inch iPad will begin in December, according to DigiTimes, ahead of a first-quarter 2017 launch. The new form factor is expected to be slightly larger than the 9.7-inch display that has been on Apple's flagship iPad model since it first debuted in 2010.

While DigiTimes has an unreliable track record on Apple hardware rumors, this week's report is just the latest in a series of claims suggesting a new 10.5-inch iPad will arrive early next year. The new larger, model is expected to be a high-end "pro" version, while a low-cost 9.7-inch iPad will also be introduced, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities.

In addition, Apple is also expected to launch a third, 12.9-inch iPad Pro update for its 2017 iPad lineup. According to DigiTimes, both the 10.5- and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models will feature an "A10X" processor.

Alleged "A10X" benchmarks appeared online back in October, showing performance levels significantly higher than the A10 chip found in the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. In years past, Apple has added "X" differentiators to iPad chips with more horsepower, intended to drive their larger displays and aided by beefier batteries.

Supply chain sources expect the new 10.5-inch iPad will see shipments of 2 million units in the first quarter of 2017. Total shipments for the year may reach as many as 5 million to 6 million units.