9.7″ has been the main constant for the iPad since it was first released. This is where the original iPad started and there has never been a time in the device’s nine plus year run when this size wasn’t available. However, if growing rumors are true, that might soon change.
According to DigiTimes, Apple is preparing to replace the 9.7″ iPad that currently occupies the lowest spot in the device lineup with a new 10.2″ model. If true, the likely plan is to shrink the bezels a bit, likely on the sides, similar to the current iPads Air and Mini.
The detail that most Apple enthusiasts, myself included, find odd is that the reported size is so close to the iPad Air without matching it. It is strange that the screen for one would be 10.5″ and the other 10.2″, especially when Apple doesn’t usually miss a trick when it comes to re-purposing designs and optimizing their manufacturing and supply chain. See the already mentioned iPad Air for plenty of proof of that.
When the first reports of a 10.2″ iPad popped up earlier this year before the release of the new iPad Air and iPad Mini, I dismissed them as likely false. The oddball size just didn’t seem to add up and when the reports faded I wasn’t surprised. While it still seems strange, the fact that more reports are coming in leading up to a likely Fall refresh of the iPad lineup makes me think there is something here. It may be nothing more than someone getting their hands or eyes on a prototype, but there is something to this.
As with the iPad Pro redesign rumors last year, if this new device is real, this won’t be the last of the reports. They will continue and increase in frequency as we get closer to release day. If they are incorrect, they will fade away, as they did earlier this year. This doesn’t sell papers or prompt clicks, but the truth is, we’ll know when we know about a new iPad and what final form it will take.