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Apple may be prepping as many as three iPad Pros for launch in spring 2017

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Jessica Lee Star/Digital Trends
If the iPad Pro you bought this spring is starting to feel a bit long in the tooth, don’t fret — a new lineup is on the way. According to Japanese blog Mac Otakara, Apple’s planning a blowout presser at which multiple new iPads are set to launch.

The report, courtesy of a “reliable source,” indicates three iPads differentiated by size will launch this spring. The 12.9-inch and 9.7-inch models are reportedly due for a hardware refresh, somewhat predictably. But a new model is joining the burgeoning Pro series, too, in the form of a 7.9-inch iPad intended to succeed the aging iPad mini 4.

The new 7.9-inch model will occupy a lower pricing tier than both the 12.9-inch and 9.7-inch iPad Pro models. But despite its budget price tag, the undersized iPad Pro will inherit most, if not all, of the 9.7-inch iPad Pro’s features. A four-speaker array is reportedly in tow, along with a True Tone screen that relies on ambient light sensors to adjust display colors in response to surroundings. It reportedly packs Apple’s proprietary Smart Connector, a conductive material that enables the two-way flow of both power and data. And it likely sports an iSight camera with LED flash array, though its megapixel count and aperture remain a mystery.

The comparatively mundane new 12.9-inch iPad is expected to gain a True Tone display. It will reportedly retain the four-speaker sound array and rear-facing iSight camera of the current-generation model.

All three new iPad Pro tablets are due for a microphone upgrade, apparently — they will sport quad microphones as opposed to the dual models found on the soon-to-be-outmoded iPad 12.9-inch and 9.7-inch. And they are expected to retain the 3.5mm headphone jacks.

The new scoop corroborates some of a report published earlier this year by market researcher Ming-Chi Kuo. Kuo, who has a proven track record when it comes to Apple rumors, told investors that the Cupertino, California-based firm was planning to release 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2, 10.5-inch iPad Pro, and low-cost 9.7-inch iPad in the next few months.

On thing is for certain, though: Apple needs a tablet hit. The company’s third-quarter earnings call in July painted a grim picture of Apple’s once-thriving iPad business — overall sales declined to 10 million from 10.9 million the year prior. Its higher sticker price managed to prop up profits, but the company is likely hoping upgraded models will reinvigorate sales early next year.

Mac Rumors notes that Mac Otakara has a mixed track record when it comes to Apple rumors. It accurately reported Apple’s plans to remove the 3.5mm headphone jack on the iPhone 7, the inclusion of a Lightning-to-3.5mm audio adapter, and the move from a physical home button to touch-sensitive alternative. But the publication incorrectly pegged the launch of a new MacBook Air models with USB-C ports as “the end of June.” As of early October, Apple had yet to refresh its MacBook lineup.

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