The current Apple iPad Air (2019) tries to straddle the line between the basic iPad and the iPad Pros, but at least outwardly it has a lot more in common with the basic iPad than its pricey Pro counterparts.
If recent projections from reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo are to be believed though, that is set to change in 2021 with the iPad Air receiving a number of updates including a larger screen, Face ID, and a USB-C port, all of which have been exclusive to the iPad Pro lineup to date (via PhoneArena).
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Rumors of a number of updates to the iPad Pros in 2021 have been swirling for some time now, the most recent again confirmed miniLED displays and 5G connectivity. Viewed in light of the iPad Pro upgrades it becomes much more plausible that the iPad Air would get these updates to avoid a widening gap in the lineup.
The new iPad Air would feature a 10.8-inch screen, nearly identical to that of the current 11-inch iPad Pro and would hopefully inherent the narrower bezels to go with it.
Speaking of thinner bezels, another big move would be the inclusion of either Face ID via the TrueDepth sensor found in the 2018 and 2020 iPad Pros or an in-display fingerprint reader. The latter would seem surprising for Apple, but the technology has come a long way in the last couple of years and perhaps Apple feels it is ready.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly for those iPad fans that aren't also iPhone users, the iPad Air would move to USB-C rather than Lightning.
Unfortunately nothing on the processor, currently the iPad Air uses the A12 as compared to the A12z found in the iPad Pros, but it's possible we see the Air leapfrog the current Pros if it launches at the same time or following the revision to the Pro lineup.
Regardless it's a compelling collection of updates that we certainly hope comes to pass next year, Apple continues to dominate the tablet market and maintaining strong options at each price point has been a crucial piece of that strategy in recent years.