Apple's 'iPad Air 4' in 2021 could sport USB-C connector, 11-inch display

Posted:
in General Discussion edited September 2020
Apple's "iPad Air 4" could be equipped with an 11-inch display and a USB-C connector and arrive in 2021, a new rumor claims.

Apple's iPad Air 3
Apple's iPad Air 3


The new iPad Air model could debut in March 2021, a full two years after the company refreshed the iPad Air lineup in March 2019. That marked the first refresh of the iPad Air lineup since the second-generation model in 2014.

According to a report from MyDrivers, the so-called "iPad Air 4" will sport a variant of Apple's A14 processor, and could also adopt a USB-C port and an 11-inch Liquid Retina display. The addition of USB-C could suggest that Apple is positioning the iPad Air lineup as a lower-priced professional device more akin to the iPad Pro, and the bump in screen size could indicate slimmer bezel design.

MyDrivers also suggests that Apple will release a new Magic Keyboard model compatible with the iPad Air 4 -- a rumor that we've also seen before. With iPadOS, current iPad Air models support trackpads and mice, though the Magic Keyboard is an iPad Pro-exclusive currently.

For reference, the previous iPad Air 3 has a 10.5-inch LCD screen and retains Apple's signature Lightning port. Apple sells a trackpad keyboard case for the iPad Air, though it's a third-party Logitech model.

The report suggests that the new iPad Air model will start at $649, an increase compared to the previous generation's $499 price tag. It's rumored to be available in 128GB, 256GB and 512GB storage configurations.

This isn't the first time we've heard rumors of the iPad Air lineup ditching Lightning. In June, a supply chain report suggested that the next generation of the device could be the first non-Pro iPad to adopt USB-C. Apple is also expected to refresh the iPad mini, though that smaller tablet is expected to retain a Lightning port and only see a small bump to display size.

MyDrivers has a mixed track record of reporting on Apple's future plans, though the company has produced accurate information in the past.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 25
    mike1mike1 Posts: 2,740member
    What would be the real or perceived benefits of changing the connector on the iPad to USB C compared to Lightning?
    Other than making the multitude of charging cables I already own useless, of course?
    razorpit
  • Reply 2 of 25
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    mike1 said:
    What would be the real or perceived benefits of changing the connector on the iPad to USB C compared to Lightning?
    Other than making the multitude of charging cables I already own useless, of course?
    Faster charging. Aside from that, not sure.

    I prefer the lightening connector because the breakable part is on the side that's cheapest to fix.
    dewmerazorpit
  • Reply 3 of 25
    USB-C makes it easier to connect other things such as hard drives
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 4 of 25
    Between this and the rumored 2021 iPhone Pro lacking any kind of socket, this looks like the beginning of the end for Lightning. Pity, it's the superior plug.

    Besides being thinner, the point of failure on either plug is the little tab with the contacts. USB-C has that tab too, it's just on the device instead of the cable (peer inside the USB-C ports on your Macbook). When that tab breaks on a lightning cable, nabd, just fish the tab out of the iPhone with some tweezers and get a new cable. When the tab breaks on USB-C, that is a non-trivial repair, if even possible.
    svanstrom
  • Reply 5 of 25
    mike1mike1 Posts: 2,740member
    Rayz2016 said:
    mike1 said:
    What would be the real or perceived benefits of changing the connector on the iPad to USB C compared to Lightning?
    Other than making the multitude of charging cables I already own useless, of course?
    Faster charging. Aside from that, not sure.

    I prefer the lightening connector because the breakable part is on the side that's cheapest to fix.

    That's why I'm confused. I thought Lightning allowed for the faster charging if the charger had a USB connector. Of course the other end of the cable would have to be USB C.
    civaGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 6 of 25
    mike1mike1 Posts: 2,740member
    Eric_WVGG said:
    Between this and the rumored 2021 iPhone Pro lacking any kind of socket, this looks like the beginning of the end for Lightning. Pity, it's the superior plug.

    Besides being thinner, the point of failure on either plug is the little tab with the contacts. USB-C has that tab too, it's just on the device instead of the cable (peer inside the USB-C ports on your Macbook). When that tab breaks on a lightning cable, nabd, just fish the tab out of the iPhone with some tweezers and get a new cable. When the tab breaks on USB-C, that is a non-trivial repair, if even possible.

    After all these years, the most involved repair I've ever had with the Lightning connector was blowing out the accumulated dust/lint from my iPhone. Never had that with my iPads since it doesn't fit in my pocket.
    thtcivadewme
  • Reply 7 of 25
    thttht Posts: 4,030member
    Looks like the same play from the current iPad Air 3. Take the small iPad Pro and defeature it to hit a price point. An A14 is mostly a side grade from the A12Z. The A14 going to have much better single core performance, about the same multicore performance. Graphics performance will be about the same. Neural and matrix multiply units will be better on the A14. RAM will be less the current iPad Pro at 4 GB. Back cam goes down to 1. Unknown on the LiDAR.

    USBC is a net plus. The back Smart Connector will provide Magic Keyboard support, so depending on what you want, that could be a plus. I assume Pencil 2 support stays.

    I would have bought 2 of this rumored iPad Air 4 if available today, without even a second thought. It looks like a great machine. Instead, I just got the 14yo a 2020 iPad Pro 11 and the 12yo a used 2018 iPad Pro, both 256 GB, mostly for remote school. The 11" versus 12.9" is a tough decision. If hand holding, 11". If desktop, 12.9". But if they do all of the above?

    Still holding on out for a iPad Pro 12.9, or the large display model, that comes with miniLED and 8 GB RAM. My iPad Pro 10.5 is still going strong. The Smart Connector really should be able to carry a USB3/4 signal. Needs 3x the contacts, but it would be great in the inevitable future when the iPad can extend its display to an external monitor. Not mirror, but extend.

    With video meetings normal or common now, I'd like to see Apple try two front cams, on opposing sides, and do some auto-fusion of the camera data to make it look like your are looking at the person you are talking on-screen, in their video feed.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 8 of 25
    civaciva Posts: 78member
    based on what we know about the new MacOS, as well as the new architecture, coupled with previous ads saying how your next computer isn't a computer, I don't know why the iPad and the Macbook don't merge, and become the next Macbook. 

    The groundwork has been set, with the introduction of trackpad and mouse input to the iPad, and all iOS apps can now be installed on the new apple silicon macs. it just seems like the logical next step. 
  • Reply 9 of 25
    civaciva Posts: 78member
    tht said:
    Looks like the same play from the current iPad Air 3. Take the small iPad Pro and defeature it to hit a price point. An A14 is mostly a side grade from the A12Z. The A14 going to have much better single core performance, about the same multicore performance. Graphics performance will be about the same. Neural and matrix multiply units will be better on the A14. RAM will be less the current iPad Pro at 4 GB. Back cam goes down to 1. Unknown on the LiDAR.

    USBC is a net plus. The back Smart Connector will provide Magic Keyboard support, so depending on what you want, that could be a plus. I assume Pencil 2 support stays.

    I would have bought 2 of this rumored iPad Air 4 if available today, without even a second thought. It looks like a great machine. Instead, I just got the 14yo a 2020 iPad Pro 11 and the 12yo a used 2018 iPad Pro, both 256 GB, mostly for remote school. The 11" versus 12.9" is a tough decision. If hand holding, 11". If desktop, 12.9". But if they do all of the above?

    Still holding on out for a iPad Pro 12.9, or the large display model, that comes with miniLED and 8 GB RAM. My iPad Pro 10.5 is still going strong. The Smart Connector really should be able to carry a USB3/4 signal. Needs 3x the contacts, but it would be great in the inevitable future when the iPad can extend its display to an external monitor. Not mirror, but extend.

    With video meetings normal or common now, I'd like to see Apple try two front cams, on opposing sides, and do some auto-fusion of the camera data to make it look like your are looking at the person you are talking on-screen, in their video feed.
    I could see why they wouldn't use USB-C, due to wanting to keep the ipad slim and lite. It would be like headphone gate, when they removed the headphone jack from the iPhone. The lightening plug is actually slimmer than the USB-C plug, thus lending itself more compatibly to a slimmer design. 
  • Reply 10 of 25
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 2,543member
    One word : PREFECT!! Just upgraded Macbook Air but with 11" screen, USB-C, must upgrade for me to iPad Air 4 from my older iPad Air 2...

    edited August 2020
  • Reply 11 of 25
    flydogflydog Posts: 1,005member
    mike1 said:
    What would be the real or perceived benefits of changing the connector on the iPad to USB C compared to Lightning?
    Other than making the multitude of charging cables I already own useless, of course?
    Reversible 

    Supports 100 watts vs 12 watts 

    Simultaneous power and video

    Double the data transmission speed

    Supports USB PD

    Common port means you can plug in external hard drives, monitors, and other devices
    edited August 2020 svanstromGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 12 of 25
    flydogflydog Posts: 1,005member

    mike1 said:
    Rayz2016 said:
    mike1 said:
    What would be the real or perceived benefits of changing the connector on the iPad to USB C compared to Lightning?
    Other than making the multitude of charging cables I already own useless, of course?
    Faster charging. Aside from that, not sure.

    I prefer the lightening connector because the breakable part is on the side that's cheapest to fix.

    That's why I'm confused. I thought Lightning allowed for the faster charging if the charger had a USB connector. Of course the other end of the cable would have to be USB C.
    No
  • Reply 13 of 25
    thttht Posts: 4,030member
    civa said:
    tht said:
    Looks like the same play from the current iPad Air 3. Take the small iPad Pro and defeature it to hit a price point. An A14 is mostly a side grade from the A12Z. The A14 going to have much better single core performance, about the same multicore performance. Graphics performance will be about the same. Neural and matrix multiply units will be better on the A14. RAM will be less the current iPad Pro at 4 GB. Back cam goes down to 1. Unknown on the LiDAR.

    USBC is a net plus. The back Smart Connector will provide Magic Keyboard support, so depending on what you want, that could be a plus. I assume Pencil 2 support stays.

    I would have bought 2 of this rumored iPad Air 4 if available today, without even a second thought. It looks like a great machine. Instead, I just got the 14yo a 2020 iPad Pro 11 and the 12yo a used 2018 iPad Pro, both 256 GB, mostly for remote school. The 11" versus 12.9" is a tough decision. If hand holding, 11". If desktop, 12.9". But if they do all of the above?

    Still holding on out for a iPad Pro 12.9, or the large display model, that comes with miniLED and 8 GB RAM. My iPad Pro 10.5 is still going strong. The Smart Connector really should be able to carry a USB3/4 signal. Needs 3x the contacts, but it would be great in the inevitable future when the iPad can extend its display to an external monitor. Not mirror, but extend.

    With video meetings normal or common now, I'd like to see Apple try two front cams, on opposing sides, and do some auto-fusion of the camera data to make it look like your are looking at the person you are talking on-screen, in their video feed.
    I could see why they wouldn't use USB-C, due to wanting to keep the ipad slim and lite. It would be like headphone gate, when they removed the headphone jack from the iPhone. The lightening plug is actually slimmer than the USB-C plug, thus lending itself more compatibly to a slimmer design. 
    I don't the thickness difference between USBC and Lightning is big enough to matter, as in they are only a few tenths of millimeter different.

    Apple does make thinness a differentiating feature though. The thinner iPads are more expensive than the thicker iPads. The iPad Pro devices are thinner than the iPad Air devices, USB-C port and all. Too bad that the camera bumps are so big though. I would trade off poorer back cam performance for a flush back cam in an iPad.

    Would be interesting if this iPad Air 4 has a camera bump.
  • Reply 14 of 25
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 1,796member
    Rayz2016 said:
    mike1 said:
    What would be the real or perceived benefits of changing the connector on the iPad to USB C compared to Lightning?
    Other than making the multitude of charging cables I already own useless, of course?
    Faster charging. Aside from that, not sure.

    I prefer the lightening connector because the breakable part is on the side that's cheapest to fix.
    Apple screwed the pooch by not working better with the USB standards committee back in the day when USB C was being developed. The inferior connector became the industry standard.
  • Reply 15 of 25
    Eric_WVGG said:
    Between this and the rumored 2021 iPhone Pro lacking any kind of socket, this looks like the beginning of the end for Lightning. Pity, it's the superior plug.

    Besides being thinner, the point of failure on either plug is the little tab with the contacts. USB-C has that tab too, it's just on the device instead of the cable (peer inside the USB-C ports on your Macbook). When that tab breaks on a lightning cable, nabd, just fish the tab out of the iPhone with some tweezers and get a new cable. When the tab breaks on USB-C, that is a non-trivial repair, if even possible.
    To be fair, if the specific USB-C connector isn't badly designed the tab can't break without either being faulty made, or there being enough force applied that the whole connector (or even the device itself) is at risk of breaking first.

    Yes, something like the tip of a screwdriver could of course get into the connector and break the tab, but those would have to be some unlikely circumstances. OTOH, USB-C on an iPhone would be at a greater risk as those get showed into pockets, where they could run straight into things like keys…
    fastasleep
  • Reply 16 of 25
    mike1 said:
    What would be the real or perceived benefits of changing the connector on the iPad to USB C compared to Lightning?
    Other than making the multitude of charging cables I already own useless, of course?
    Try to connect accessories through the USB-A to lighting dongle and you will have the answer pretty quick. 

    A Royal PITA because every accessory will likely require too much power and even if you also connect the charging side to the dongle it will still required too much power. 

    Then comes the iPad Pro and the issues with power are solved: just by having USB-C. 
  • Reply 17 of 25
    mike1 said:
    What would be the real or perceived benefits of changing the connector on the iPad to USB C compared to Lightning?
    Other than making the multitude of charging cables I already own useless, of course?

    well
    1. Fewer cables to manage
    2. Easier connectivity to dongles and peripherals (keyboard, mice, disk etc)
    The above to are good enough for me. But I guess mileage varies with every individual...


  • Reply 18 of 25
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,262member
    Rayz2016 said:
    mike1 said:
    What would be the real or perceived benefits of changing the connector on the iPad to USB C compared to Lightning?
    Other than making the multitude of charging cables I already own useless, of course?
    Faster charging. Aside from that, not sure.

    I prefer the lightening connector because the breakable part is on the side that's cheapest to fix.

    I'm not sure about that:   I bought my grandson a 2 port 30watt Anker charger and USB-C to Lightening cord and it sends all 30 watts to his iPhone (although it can only use about 2/3's of that).  It also has a USB-A port that only puts out lower power (I think its 12 watt at best).

    I think the typical power restriction is on the USB-A side of the standard cable rather than the Lightening side.
    edited August 2020
  • Reply 19 of 25
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,262member
    Eric_WVGG said:
    Between this and the rumored 2021 iPhone Pro lacking any kind of socket, this looks like the beginning of the end for Lightning. Pity, it's the superior plug.

    Besides being thinner, the point of failure on either plug is the little tab with the contacts. USB-C has that tab too, it's just on the device instead of the cable (peer inside the USB-C ports on your Macbook). When that tab breaks on a lightning cable, nabd, just fish the tab out of the iPhone with some tweezers and get a new cable. When the tab breaks on USB-C, that is a non-trivial repair, if even possible.

    Not for me!
    I've had the internal Lightening port on 2 devices fail.   For me, the internal port has failed more than any Apple Lightening cable (3 rd party cables fail a lot too though).
  • Reply 20 of 25
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,262member
    tht said:
    ...

    I would have bought 2 of this rumored iPad Air 4 if available today, without even a second thought. It looks like a great machine. Instead, I just got the 14yo a 2020 iPad Pro 11 and the 12yo a used 2018 iPad Pro, both 256 GB, mostly for remote school. The 11" versus 12.9" is a tough decision. If hand holding, 11". If desktop, 12.9". But if they do all of the above?

    ....
    With video meetings normal or common now, I'd like to see Apple try two front cams, on opposing sides, and do some auto-fusion of the camera data to make it look like your are looking at the person you are talking on-screen, in their video feed.
    I was playing with my grandson's iPad Gen6 with its bluetooth slim-folio keyboard and a bluetooth mouse and really liked it.   While it didn't work as well as a standard laptop for me, it was damn close to it with the differences very minor -- but any deficiencies were offset by it also being able to be used in tablet mode with a pencil.   And school is why I got it for him -- although he has never used it for that (i ended up buying him a MacBook).   I had anticipated his school (which is #6 in the state) would have embraced technology but it never did until this summer.   For the fall they are finally rolling out  a new cyber learning program and (at some point) providing each student with a Dell 2 in 1 -- which really sounds like a poor second cousin to his iPad!   It seems that Apple and I were just too far out front ahead of the game.

    And, I agree that Apple needs to step up its game on front facing cameras.   Video calls are no longer a novelty but an integral function of almost any computer.

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