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February 29, 2016

Apple iPad Air 3 vs iPad Pro: What’s the difference?

by John_A

Apple is due to launch its next-generation of 9.7-inch iPad at an event in March. Both 15 March and 21 March have been suggested as the date to put in the diary and the new tablet is expected alongside a new 4-inch iPhone and new smartwatch.

The iPad Air range has not been updated for a while but it has been claimed the next 9.7-inch iPad will fall within the Pro range rather than the Air range. As this has yet to be confirmed however, for the sake of this feature we will be calling it the iPad Air 3.

How might the iPad Air 3 compare to the iPad Pro? We have put the 12.9-inch tablet against the rumoured specs for the new 9.7-inch device to see what the differences are, what features they might share and whether the iPad Air 3 will sit better within the Pro range based on the speculation.

Apple iPad Air 3 vs iPad Pro design

The Apple iPad Pro measures 305.7 x 220.6 x 6.9mm and weighs 713g for the Wi-Fi only model or 723g for the Wi-Fi and Cellular model. It offers the same aluminium design as the iPad Air 2 with the Lightning connector centralised at the bottom and Touch ID built into the home button on the front.

The iPad Pro adds four built-in stereo speakers to the iPad party though, as well as a Smart Connector. It comes in silver, gold and space grey colour options.

The Apple iPad Air 3 is rumoured to come in a similar size format as the current iPad Air 2 with its measurements claimed to be 240 x 169.6 x 6.15mm. This is of course significantly smaller than the iPad Pro but it sounds like the design will be similar, just on a smaller scale.

Speculation suggests the iPad Air 3, or smaller iPad Pro will come with the four built-in speakers like the Pro, as well as the Smart Connector. You can bet Touch ID will be on board and chances are the same gold, silver and space grey colours will be available too whether it is called Air or Pro.

Apple iPad Air 3 vs iPad Pro display

The Apple iPad Pro is the largest iPad available in the company’s line up, with a 12.9-inch display. The LED-backlit Retina display has a 2732 x 2048 resolution for a pixel density of 264ppi.

The iPad Pro’s display can measure pressure, allowing it to work with the Apple Pencil. It is thought the Apple iPad Air 3 will offer the same technology, enabling users to draw and design as they would on the iPad Pro but on a smaller, more portable device.

Rumours claim the iPad Air 3 will offer the same size display as the iPad Air 2, sticking at 9.7-inches. This of course makes it quite a bit smaller than the iPad Pro, meaning if it arrives with the Pro name, it will simply be a mini version of it rather than directly competing or replacing the larger model.

The iPad Air 2 has a resolution of 2048 x 1536 which means a pixel density of 264ppi, like the iPad Pro. It has been suggested the iPad Air 3 will up its resolution to 3112 x 2334 however, meaning a sharper and crisper pixel density than the iPad Pro of 401ppi.

Apple iPad Air 3 vs iPad Pro camera

The Apple iPad Pro has an 8-megapixel iSight camera with an f/2.4 aperture, coupled with a 1.2-megapixel front camera with an f/2.2 aperture. The rear camera is capable of 1080p video recording, while the front-facing camera will manage 720p.

The Apple iPad Air 3 is rumoured to be coming with a rear LED flash, which would make it the first iPad to offer this feature. This of course could mean a bump in megapixels too but if not then expect an 8-megapixel rear snapper and 1.2-megapixel front camera like the iPad Air 2 and iPad Pro.

Apple iPad Air 3 vs iPad Pro hardware and specs

The Apple iPad Pro comes with the A9X processor and M9 motion co-processor. It also sports 4GB of RAM and a 38.5 watt battery. The Wi-Fi only model comes in 32GB and 128GB options, while the Wi-Fi and Cellular model is only available with 128GB of internal storage.

The Apple iPad Air 3 is rumoured to be coming with either the same A9X chip as the iPad Pro, or a new chip, which will presumably be called the A10. Both 3GB and 4GB of RAM have been thrown about in speculation but storage and battery details have yet to be discussed in the claims.

Given the size difference however, you can expect a smaller battery capacity to the iPad Pro. We’d also expect to see a 128GB model and a 64GB option, but whether Apple will introduce a 32GB version or 16GB is unclear at the moment.

Apple iPad Air 3 vs iPad Pro software

The Apple iPad Pro comes with iOS 9, offering all the features you’d expect including AirDrop, AirPlay, Spotlight Search, Apple Music and Family Sharing among others as standard. It also comes complete with Pages, Numbers and Keynote, offering users the company’s productivity apps.

If the Apple iPad Air 3 arrives in March, it too will more than likely come with iOS 9 as iOS 10 isn’t due to be previewed until WWDC in June. Based on the rumours, it sounds as though you can expect the same software experience as the Pro.

Apple iPad Air 3 vs iPad Pro conclusion

If the rumours are accurate, we can see why the Apple iPad Air 3 might be named as a smaller iPad Pro instead. It is expected to feature similar design traits to the iPad Pro, even if these are on the same size scale as the Air range.

Nothing has been confirmed as yet but with a bit of luck, we will know in a couple of weeks what the next 9.7-inch iPad will bring.

For all the rumours and speculation surrounding the smaller iPad Pro, or iPad Air 3, you can read our rumour round up. We have also done a separate feature on how the iPad Air 3 compares to the iPad Air 2, based on the rumours. We will update this feature regularly as more leaks appear so keep checking back.

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