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Apple Readies iPad Air 3, Minor Apple Watch Refresh

Apple is reportedly planning to release the latest version of the iPad Air -- the iPad Air 3 -- in March. However, the same reports find that the company is only offering a few new features with its Apple Watch refresh.

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Apple is planning on releasing an updated version of its iPad tablet at an event in March that will see improved cameras, the company's latest A9X processor, enhanced screen resolution, a 3D display, and longer battery life, according to various Web reports.

The so-called iPad Air 3 is also likely to sport a 9.7-inch screen display with a 4K resolution and come in two versions, with either 2GB or 4GB of RAM. The camera will sport a 13-megapixel rear-facing primary camera and a 5-megapixel secondary front camera.

A September 2015 report from ABI Research suggests Apple will need to concentrate on a substantial marketing push in order to keep sales of it tablets up. The analyst firm predicts the installed base of tablets will decrease for the first time in 2016 as growth from first-time buyers shifts to replacement purchases.

"The global installed base of branded tablets will peak around 373 million units at the close of 2015," ABI research director Jeff Orr wrote at the time. "Led by North America at 48% of the installed base, the operating system mix is expected to be more balanced with 50% powered by Android, while 42% will use iOS."

(Image: kieferpix/iStockphoto)

(Image: kieferpix/iStockphoto)

Although the latest iPad is likely to be unveiled in March, Apple fans hoping for a major update of the company's smartwatch are likely to be disappointed. Apple-centric blog 9to5Mac, quoting a Chinese tech media site, reports that initial production runs of the Apple Watch 2 will begin later this month.

On the iPhone front, 9to5Mac had earlier reported that March could also herald the debut of the long-rumored 4-inch iPhone 6c, which would be targeted at iPhone fans who find the larger screens of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus too large.

[Read about the new features in iOS 9.3.]

A TechCrunch report indicated the Apple Watch 2 could come with a FaceTime video camera, and spoke with Creative Strategies analyst Ben Bajarin, who said a lack of movement in the Apple Watch supply chain indicated a more radical refresh was probably not on the horizon.

"We are observing some interesting new patterns in Apple's supply chain that are making the waters [murkier] than before," Bajarin told TechCrunch. "As with the current edition of the Apple Watch, no one really saw that coming via supply chain, so it is possible to not see it. However, the Apple supplier warnings of soft revenue ahead do seem to cause one's eyebrow to raise when thinking about a new product supposedly shipping in a few months."

In other Apple news, a bomb threat called into two of the company's facilities in Cork, Ireland, led to the evacuation of nearly 5,000 employees, including Apple's plant at Hollyhill, where around 4,000 people work, and the company's center of operations in Lavitt's Quay, home to around 800 Apple employees.

While no specific location for the bomb threat was specified, Garda, the country's police force, evacuated both locations as a precaution, according to a report in The Irish Times. The warning stemming from the threat has since been lifted, the paper noted.

Nathan Eddy is a freelance writer for InformationWeek. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin. View Full Bio

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User Rank: Ninja
1/19/2016 | 7:07:43 PM
Re: Smaller Screen
I do not mind have a phone with a smaller screen. I think they are more convenient than one with a much larger screen.  I think Apple is going in the right direction by going back to smaller screens.  I see people trying to read a book on a iphone 6. I think you can do it, but something tell me it is good for your eyesight in the long term. I would prefer to just get a tablet. 
User Rank: Ninja
1/18/2016 | 6:19:09 PM
Smaller Screen
I think it is interesting Apple is rumored to be releasing a phone with a smaller screen. Will that mean those devices will have better battery life? There are a number of people that i think would love to have increased battery life over a large screen. I think that would be a good compromise product for Apple to offer. Some people don't constantly need the use of a smartphone, and this is where I think a smaller screen would do well. 
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