In November of last year, reports claimed that the iPad Air 3 was still in the works despite Apple unveiling the iPad Pro, with the tablet launching as early as March of this year.
A month later in December 2015, Apple insider and KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said that the iPad Air 3 could be released within the first half of 2016, but it will not be coming with the 3D Touch feature that was introduced with the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.
Kuo said that while the iPad Air 3 is touted as the device that could bring a new dimension to the multi-touch interface, 3D Touch will not be among the tablet's features due to production issues. Kuo said that the production for the 3D touch is one of the most severe bottlenecks that Apple faced in the supply chain of the iPhone 6s. The iPad Pro does not have the feature, and so Apple will be looking to expand 3D touch into its tablets; however, it most likely will not happen with the iPad Air 3.
Apple fans were expecting to see the iPad Air 3 in Apple's Sept. 9 event last year, but the company instead unveiled the iPad Mini 4 and the iPad Pro. No mention of the iPad Air 3 was made in the event.
The decision to not include the iPad Air 3 at last year's Sept. 9 event could be because Apple did not want to release too many new versions of its tablet at once. This would give the new iPad Pro some time to grow into the market without the iPad Air 3 eating into its sales.
The latest rumors build upon the theory that the iPad Air line has not yet ended, with the iPad Air 3 planned to be launched by Apple in March. Such a launch date would be against the trend that was set by the first two versions of the iPad Air, which were both launched in autumn, but it would be a good time to tap into the casual market that could find the iPad Pro to be out of reach.
Reports are claiming that the iPad Air 3 will be powered by the A9X processor and will have an 8MP rear-facing camera, a 2.1MP front-facing camera, a fingerprint sensor and a 9.7-inch 4K display. The tablet is said to have RAM of between 2 GB and 4 GB, enclosed within a device that would have a thickness of only 5 millimeters.
Rumors also state that the iPad Air 3 will have an IP rating for water and dust resistance, which would make it Apple's second device with such a rating after the Apple Watch. However, the battery of the iPad Air 3 is said to be decreased from the 7,340 mAh battery of the iPad Air 2.
There is also the possibility that Apple could decide to put the iPad Air line on hold indefinitely, contrary to the rumors that the iPad Air 3 is ready to launch in March, with the company deciding to see first how well the iPad Mini 4 and iPad Pro 4 perform in terms of sales.