In Brief

One-off Jony Ive iPad goes under the hammer

Unique tablet tweaked by Apple's chief designer estimated to fetch £10,000-£15,000 at London sale

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A one-of-a-kind 9iPad Pro created by Apple's chief design officer Jony Ive is to go up for auction in London with an estimate of £10,000-£15,000.

Ive, described by the Independent as a "British design guru", created the piece specifically for sale at the "exclusive" Phillips auction house on 28 April.

Under the skin, it's a normal 9.7ins iPad Pro, so whoever stumps up for it will get Apple's A9X chipset, a 12-megapixel iSight camera, a quad-speaker system, 4K-Video recording abilities, a smart connector and what Display Mate calls "a truly innovative and top performing display".

However, on the outside, the iPad features a few unique differences. Most strikingly is the colour scheme Ive has chosen: the anodised aluminium backplate is a unique yellow.

Elsewhere, it gets a blue suede-lined leather smart cover as well as a small carrying case made from orange Italian calf leather for the Apple Pencil.

Finally, the unique iPad gets some rather exclusive detailing – both the back of the tablet and the inside of its cover are laser-etched with: "Edition 1 of 1".

The Independent adds that the auction listing doesn't specify exactly which iPad Pro it is, "but if you're expected to spend £15,000 on it, you'd hope it'd be the 256GB version".

For the price, TechRadar points out that you could buy 22 of the larger, standard 12.9ins iPad Pros, "but then you wouldn't get the satisfaction of knowing you've got a truly unique slate to play around with".

The device is going under the hammer to raise funds for London's Design Museum, currently in-between its usual Tower Bridge home and a move to a new location in Kensington.

AppleInsider notes that Ive's relationship with the museum "goes back decades". It was where he displayed a prototype mobile phone in 1990, two years before taking up a full time position at Apple, and he was the recipient of the museum's inaugural "Designer of the Year" award for the iMac in 2003.

iPad Pro: Is Apple killing off the iPad Air?

22 March

Much like the highly accurate rumours surrounding the iPhone SE, suspicions of a new addition to Apple's iPad range were confirmed with the unveiling of a 9.7ins iPad Pro.

But the device's debut at the company's keynote event in Cupertino, California, also seemed to confirm the passing of the iPad Air range. According to TechRadar, it's now certain we won't be getting an iPad Air 3, as Apple "doubles down on the iPad Pro range".

Introducing the functionality of the iPad Pro into the firm's original 9.7ins size raises questions as to what Apple is hoping to achieve with its tablets now that sales are falling. Forbes says Apple's target market for the product falls into a peculiar niche – the firm is squarely aiming at the 200 million people who have already bought a 9.7ins iPad, as well as 600 million PC users using computers more than five years old. Has Apple become desperate for a "catalyst" to inspire iPad sales?

Regardless, the new iPad Pro packs all the power and functions of the larger 12.9ins model into a device with far more typical iPad dimensions.

It has the 64-bit A9X chip as well as a 2048x1536 retina display, 12-megapixel iSight camera with LED flash and 4K video-recording abilities, a five-megapixel front-facing FaceTime camera and a quad-speaker system.

While the tablet will ship with iOS 9.3 – meaning it will come with the new Night Shift feature – the tablet also gets a secondary colour-tilting function. It uses four-channel sensors to automatically adjust the backlight to match ambient lighting, the aim being to make the whites on display the same hue as paper in equivalent lighting.

It's also coming with the same accessories as on the 12.9ins version. A smaller Smart Keyboard has been developed that can be connected via the Smart Connector and the stylus-friendly pressure-sensitive display can be used with the Apple Pencil – the same drawing tool as the larger iPad, but in a more compact size. USB-Type C fast charging has been confirmed, too.

Colours will be limited to space grey, silver and a new metallic rose gold and pre-orders begin on Thursday, with the device hitting store shelves at the end of the month, alongside the iPhone SE. 

Prices will start at £499 for the 32GB option, rising to £619 for a 128GB device and £739 for the range-topping 256GB version. Cellular data models all carry a £100 premium over the wi-fi-only tablets.

iPad Pro: Prices revealed for the smaller tablet

18 March

Apple is expected to introduce a 9.7ins version of its iPad Pro on Monday, at the firm's latest keynote event, and the ever-accurate 9 to 5 Mac has reported the prices we can expect.

According to the site, sources say the new tablet will start from $599 in the US - equivalent to £413, although UK prices should be higher. That will get customers the 32GB wi-fi only model, while 128GB versions able to connect to LTE networks for 4G coverage will be offered at higher price points.

Many expected 2016's iPad reveal would be the Air 3, but 9 to 5 Mac's source claims the iPad Air 2 will continue on sale for now, at the same price of $499 – meaning the £399 price tag in the UK will also likely remain.

While smaller, the iPad Pro will come with roughly the same features as the current 12.9ins tablet.

The same A9X chip mated to 4GB is expected, as well as a quad-stereo speaker setup, a Smart Connector for use with a scaled down Apple Keyboard and a stylus-friendly display that can be used with the Apple Pencil. Recent rumours have suggested a 12-megapixel camera with 4K video recording capabilities is on the way, too, over the eight-megapixel setup on its big brother.

The tablet will be revealed alongside a new smartphone on Monday. Apple will be streaming coverage of the event via its website.

iPad Pro: Which features are coming to the new tablet? 

17 March

After talk that the next Apple tablet would be an iPad Air 3, more recent rumours and case leaks suggest that a smaller iPad Pro is coming. 

The tech giant is expected to reveal such a device at its keynote event on Monday, so what do we know so far?

iPad Pro performance

Current rumours suggest that at 9.7ins, the device will be smaller than the iPad Pro, which comes in at 12.9ins, but will probably be as powerful. It's tipped to get it's big brother's A9X chipset mated to 4GB RAM.

According to ValueWalk, this means it would match the iPad Pro in "offering laptop-like power in tablet form", and would be the most powerful 9.7ins tablet on the market.

Smart Connector

9 to 5 Mac report that Apple is going out of its own way to give the new Pro all the trimmings, with a Smart Connector as well as a smaller version of the Smart Keyboard cover attachment to turn it into a laptop.

Quad-speaker setup and Apple Pencil support

In a move that would vastly improve the sound quality over that of the iPad Air 2, a quad-speaker system providing audio output on all four corners of the device has been touted, similar to the one used on the larger iPad Pro. 

Case leaks have added fire to the rumour mill while website The iPad Guide says the speaker setup has been a "positive addition to the iPad Pro" and is a believable addition.

Additionally, to keep the tablet in line with the current Pro, the new version is expected to receive a display that supports the Apple Pencil, allowing users to "draw" on the screen.

A 12-megapixel camera with 4K video?

While most of the tablet's hardware is expected to be plucked straight from its bigger sibling, 9 to 5 Mac reports that the camera could be an area where the new model actually surpasses the current version.                              

The current iPad Pro has an eight-megapixel camera setup, but the 9.7ins version could get the 12-megapixel unit fitted to the iPhone 6S, meaning the tablet would be able to record video in 4K.

"Given that the smaller display yields a more portable form-factor, it would make sense for Apple to promote improved photography on its 9.7-inch tablet," says the site.

iPad case leak suggests smaller Pro is on the way

10 March

Should rumours turn out to be true, Apple will reveal an all new iPad at its keynote event in just less than two weeks' time.

Early rumours pointed towards an iPad Air 3 to be the company's next tablet, but more recently, the whispers have centred on a new, smaller version of the iPad Pro.

Now, in leaks similar to those hinting at the designs of Apple's 2016 smartphones, including the iPhone 7, a case has emerged that suggests a smaller, 9.7ins iPad with Pro features is on the way.

Spotted on Chinese commerce website Alibaba and picked up by MacRumors, the cover features openings for a Smart Connector with which to link a smaller version of Apple's Smart Keyboard, four speakers and an LED camera flash.

"A dummy insert provides a closer look at how the ports could be aligned on the new iPad," adds the website.

The pictures were also picked up and tweeted by Steve Hemmerstoffer of French tech site NWE.

Inside, the new iPad Pro Mini should get the same A9X processor and RAM seen on the larger model, as well as a stylus-friendly 4K display.

Set for a reveal on March 21, the new tablet is tipped to be in Apple stores only days afterwards.

iPad Air 3: Is Apple launching a smaller Pro version?

04 March

Apple is set to reveal a smaller iPad Pro at a keynote event next month, according to latest rumours.

It was originally expected the company would reveal a new iPad Air, but according to 9 to 5 Mac, it now has plans for its next 9.7ins tablet to join the newly introduced iPad Pro line.

"Much like the MacBook Pro comes in 13-inch and 15-inch sizes, the iPad Pro will soon come in 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch variations," the website says. The trend also follows Apple not giving its latest 12ins MacBook an "Air" designation despite being an obvious successor. 

Set to be revealed on 15 March, the tablet could go on sale three days later. It's expected to pack all the power and features of the bigger Pro into a smaller package, so there's more to it than just a name change.

As well as the A9X and RAM upgrades seen on the 12.9ins Pro, the tablet should get an updated display compatible with the Apple Pencil, a smaller, specially made smart keyboard, quad stereo speakers and same storage capacities and colour options as the larger model. The iPad Mini 2 and first-gen iPad Air will probably be discontinued when the iPad Pro Mini launches.

Prices are uncertain. 9 to 5 Mac believes it will cost largely the same as the outgoing Air models, but TechRadar is unsure, saying there's "no news on whether the new tablet will be more affordable than its larger sibling".

It's expected that the March event will also see some new updates for the Apple Watch, as well as a new, entry level four-inch iPhone handset called the iPhone 5SE.

Bolstering the rumours that a new iPad with better features is on the way are reports from AppleInsider saying stocks for current iPad models are beginning to run dry.

"Numerous iPad models are on backorder or simply sold out. The iPad Air and Air 2 - the two devices most likely to be supplanted - are experiencing the most serious stock outs", says the website.

According to Ewan Spence in Forbes, the impending introduction of a 9.7ins table doesn't mean there'll be deals and savings on soon-to-be phased out Air models.            

"If you're waiting for a bargain, it's unlikely that there will be a notable price cut on the units. Any remaining stock will be sold in the Apple Store or utilised as swap-outs for damaged units covered by Apple Care," he says.

Regardless of what happens to the old tablets, Apple's emphasis is strongly on the new and an overhaul and refresh of the iPad line-up with a new Pro model – the iPad Pro 2, according to ValueWalk - should help turn around sales, which is vital amid reports from MacRumors that they are due to decline to their lowest level since 2011.

iPad Air 3 to get iPad Pro features

01 February

A fresh leak hinting at several rumoured features set to come on the iPad Air 3 has been reported on Japanese Apple website Macoatakara and picked up by 9 to 5 Mac.

Images said to be of the new case for the device feature cut-outs pointing to several changes.

If true, the design suggests the iPad Air 3 could have an LED flash-equipped camera – a rumour picked up previously by MacRumors, complete with a supposed leaked drawing of the device showing an LED flash placed underneath the camera aperture.

The new image details a hole shaped like a teardrop to accommodate the new LED bulb sitting underneath the camera.

Elsewhere, the case design appears to show a cut-out for a Smart Connector, as on the iPad Pro. This can be used to mate keyboards to the tablet and, through its conductive material, provides a stronger and more reliable connection.

Finally, the images also point to another iPad Pro-inspired addition - speaker holes suggest the 9.7ins iPad Air 3 will have four speakers for improved audio, a system that will allow the sound to adjust to whichever way the device is being held.

The iPad Air 3 is expected to be revealed at an Apple event heavily rumoured to be taking place in March, at which the company will likely unveil a new four-inch iPhone, too.

The latest leak alludes to previous rumours regarding the tablet being true, but 9 to 5 Mac is not fully convinced.

"Case leaks are something that should also be taken with a hint of skepticism, as sometimes case makers build designs off of rumored features without any confirmation from Apple itself," the site says.

iPad Air 3 coming in March: what we know

29 January

The latest round of leaks and rumours surrounding the Apple iPad Air 3 have pointed to a reveal in March – alongside an updated version of the Apple Watch and possibly a new four-inch iPhone.

9 to 5 Mac reports that Apple is planning to hold a keynote event on 14 March, in which it will introduce the new hardware, "but the final date is still in flux," they add.

The tech giant has recently focussed on its Mini and Pro iPads, so the introduction of a new and refreshed mid-range Air tablet would be the first since October 2014. Some have speculated in the past that the new Air has been postponed due to a decline in the market, but new rumours suggest it is indeed coming.

What could the next iPad Air be like, though?

Design

It's rumoured that the next iPad Air will be thinner than the iPad Air 2. Hardly surprising, considering Apple tend to aim for slimmer devices with every new product they launch.

Cult Of Mac comments on rumours regarding the Air 3's size by saying the company may introduce a slimmer battery in the next model, allowing it to slim down to just 5mm thick – quite a diet considering the current iPad measures 6.1mm.

If the iPad 3 does go that slim, it could mean the chassis will be made from 7000 series aluminium, just like the iPhone 6. The recently introduced iPad Pro did not get an upgrade to the material, though, so it's not certain. It's likely the same colour options will remain.

Camera

Macworld says that some rumours have indicated the Air 3 will have an eight megapixel rear-facing camera mated to a 2.1 megapixel front facing set-up. They're unsure, though, saying: "That's a slightly odd pair of specs" considering the costlier iPad Pro only has a 1.2 megapixel FaceTime camera. They do add that iPad's front-facing camera is the more important one, as the rear-facing camera is bettered by most smartphones and the large screen makes the iPad good for video calling, so any camera upgrades could reflect this.

Apple may not want to spend time improving the actual quality of the rear aperture and instead is rumoured to be adding LED flash to prop it up rather than overhaul it completely.

Display

According to "unspecified sources within the China supply chain", the International Business Times claims the iPad Air 3 could come with a 4K resolution display. Other rumours – such as those on Chinese website MyDrivers – say the iPad Air 3 will get a screen with 401 pixels per inch.

There are problems here, though, and like most rumours regarding upgraded specs, it's to do with the larger iPad Pro. It only has a 264 PPI display and introducing a better screen on a cheaper product may not be desirable to Apple.

No 3D touch?

Apple introduced 3D touch onto its iPhone range quite recently, yet the shortcut feature seems unlikely to translate onto any tablets just yet. Early rumours have ruled out the possibility of it coming to the iPad, possibly because of supply chain issues and the difficulties in manufacturing larger displays laden with the sensors which make it possible on the iPhone.

A note leaked in December from a trusted analyst to Macrumours more or less ruled out 3D touch on the Air 3.

A stylus?

The most recent rumours suggest Apple may be interested in offering the option of a stylus with the next iPad Air model. The larger iPad Pro came with a pencil-like implement for drawing neatly on its large screen, but trying to use the same stylus to draw on the iPad Air 2 proves difficult.

A stylus-friendly iPad Air may be wishful thinking, though, and Apple doesn't want too much competition between its own devices.

Release and price

If the March rumours are true, the device will go on sale not long after. There was strong talk that Apple would reveal the product late last year, but that never translated into reality so some critics are still treating its release with a pinch of salt.

Price-wise, there seems to be consensus. Starting from £399, it will likely cost the same as the current iPad Air 2.

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