Apple may be gearing up to phase out its own proprietary Lightning port from its iPad line of tablets. A new report by a Japanese supply chain blog Mac Otakara (via MacRumors) claims that the next-gen iPad Air will swap out the Lightning port for a USB Type-C one.
Apple has so far kept the universal USB Type-C port limited to its higher-end iPad Pro series — primarily because compared to Lightning, it enables broader connectivity and compatibility with input and output accessories.
But as Apple prepares to double down on positioning the iPad as a computer alternative for most people, it could be planning to expand USB Type-C to more lower-end tablets. The company has already brought Apple Pencil and Keyboard support to non-Pro iPads and last month, a rumor also suggested the next low-cost iPad will run on the premium A12 processor.
In addition, Mac Otakara says that the new iPad Air will be based on the 11-inch iPad Pro. It’s unclear whether that means it will borrow a few design traits from the iPad Pro series, such as slimmer bezels and a more boxy, metallic exterior.
Other than that, as per an earlier leak, the fourth-gen iPad Air could feature an in-screen fingerprint sensor, Touch ID instead of Face ID, and Apple’s long-rumored mini-LED display tech which is said to offer far better contrast and range than what’s available on existing iPads today.
The upcoming iPad Mini that’s expected to land sometime next year, on the other hand, will reportedly stick to the Lightning port for now. In a research note, longtime Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has previously claimed the next iPad Mini’s display would measure in at 8.5 to 9 inches. Kuo also hinted at a new 10.8-inch iPad, although it’s yet to be confirmed whether he was referring to the Air model or an upgraded base iPad.
Apple is expected to launch a range of new iPads by 2021 including a refresh for its entry-level iPad. It’s also reportedly gearing up to release an updated Apple Pencil which this time will be available in a black color option as well.
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