Could the iPad Air 3 be a note-taker's dream tablet? Rumors suggest that the upcoming device — which is reportedly ready to be unveiled at an Apple event in March — will come with support for the Apple Pencil stylus, which for now is exclusively compatible with the larger iPad Pro. Other upgrades might include a sharper display, faster performance and compatibility with Apple's Smart Keyboard accessory.
Here's a rundown of the features that we expect to see when Apple unveils the iPad Air 3 next month.
Apple Pencil support
Apple's 13-inch iPad Pro is more than just a megasize iPad. The other big feature that sets it apart from Apple's other slates is support for the Apple Pencil, an active stylus with full pressure sensitivity that lets you sketch and take notes on the tablet's display. The accessory provides a much smoother and more natural handwriting experience than you'll get with any third-party stylus available for other iPad models.
That's why we're excited to hear that the iPad Air 3 might ship with support for the Apple Pencil. The functionality would be a boon for workers who want improved note taking, but don't like the iPad Pro's cumbersome dimensions or steep price point.
Smart keyboard support
Alongside the Apple Pencil, Apple launched a keyboard add-on — dubbed the Smart Keyboard — for the iPad Pro, letting users transform the tablet into a pseudolaptop computer. Now, rumors suggest the company may be readying a smaller version of the accessory for the iPad Air 3. The Smart Keyboard — which has a built-in kickstand that props up your iPad while you type — could help bolster the iPad Air 3's image as a productivity machine. While it's true that there are plenty of third-party iPad keyboards already available, Apple's keys are snappier than most, making for a more comfortable typing experience.
The iPad Air 3 will likely be the most capable iPad yet, with 4GB of RAM onboard — twice as much RAM as the older iPad Air 2. Of course, we'll have to wait to see whether or not we notice a big difference in everyday performance. Still, the extra memory could go a long way toward improving the iPad Air 3's multitasking capabilities. We're crossing our fingers and hoping that this paves the way toward true split-screen multitasking on the iPad Air 3 in a future software update, though we're not getting our hopes up just yet.
The iPad Air 3 is expected to have roughly the same dimensions as the iPad Air 2, with a similar 9.7-inch display. But reports say Apple might be packing a lot more pixels into the new slate's screen, for a resolution as high as 4K. That would make it the sharpest tablet display we've seen yet. Though the difference wouldn't be that pronounced to the naked eye, a higher-res display does makes it easier to view more content on-screen at once, especially when you're working with large documents or spreadsheets. We fear that a 4K display could take a toll on the tablet's battery life, though.
Rumors say the iPad Air 3 could come with four speakers, compared to two on the previous model. Even workers who don't plan to use their iPad for movies or music could benefit from the upgrade, since the extra speakers will make videoconferencing sessions louder and clearer. That's a perk for those who want to use the slate to meet remotely with clients or colleagues.