Apple's new tablet will be a smaller iPad Pro, not the iPad Air 3

Report claims that Apple plans a big shift in iPad branding

We went through a few iterations of the original iPad before Apple shaved off some heft and rebranded it the iPad Air. And now after a couple models and a longer-than-usual wait for the next, it might be time for another change.

Following weeks and weeks of building rumours, we fully anticipated seeing the iPad Air 3 next month at Apple's purported March event, which is expected to also showcase a 4in iPhone 5se (or iPhone 6c, as some have called it). We still should see a new 9.7in iPad next month, only it won't be called the iPad Air 3.

According to 9to5Mac, which has a great track record with Apple leaks, the new tablet will be dubbed an iPad Pro - only smaller, of course. Apple's full-sized, 12.9in iPad Pro (shown) released back in November, providing a larger, lap-sized tablet at a higher price point. And this report claims that Apple will now use that branding to sell the latest version of its core, 9.7in model as well.

It's not clear whether it will simply be dubbed the "iPad Pro" and clearly mention the size options, as Apple does with its MacBook Pro laptops, or if there will be some other naming modifier. But it sounds like the smaller Pro will be much like the full Pro in nearly every other way but size.

9to5Mac says the 9.7in iPad Pro should have Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard support, making it an ideal device for creation and productivity, and that it will have the A9X processor and increased RAM of the Pro. It should also have similar colour and storage options too, along with the four stereo speaker grills.

However, this iPad Pro will not only be smaller, but also cheaper, likely maintaining the kind of pricing scheme we've seen with the iPad Air models - although if they're planning on larger Pro-like 32GB and 128GB size options, perhaps we'll see a US$150 difference between them this time around.

Apple's event is expected to occur on 15 March, with devices ending up in stores as soon as 18 March, so stay tuned for more as it comes.

[Source: 9to5Mac]