iPad 2 front panel (One More Thing 001)

Like everyone and their brother, KGI Securities analysts Ming-Chi Kuo is counting on the release of a second-generation iPad Air by October. The device should be refreshed with Apple’s upcoming in-house designed A8 processor, the Touch ID sensor, an improved back-facing iSight camera with a new eight-megapixel sensor, the analyst reckoned in a recent note to clients.

That said, we haven’t seen much in the way of leaks concerning the iPad Air 2 – that is, until today. An image posted this morning by Dutch blog One More Thing claims to represent a front panel said to belong to the forthcoming device, revealing what appears to be an integrated display technology that should results in a thinner and lighter display assembly…

According to One More Thing [Google translation, via MacRumors], the purported front panel part (pictured top of post and below) has the Home button hole at the bottom and another one at the top for a front-facing FaceTime camera.

The biggest takeaway is a possibly integrated display technology. As you know, the iPad Air was criticized for not integrating the separate front panel and display modules into one part.

Not only would have that allowed for a thinner device, but the integrated display assembly would have enabled improved picture quality by removing a layer between the two parts to make the image appear as if painted directly on the glass.

iPad 2 front panel (One More Thing 002)iPad 2 front panel (One More Thing 003)

MacRumors spoke to iFixit co-founder Kyle Wiens about the leaked component, who suggested that Apple could be using a manufacturing process similar to that seen on the Retina MacBook Pro.

“The move to an integrated panel/display would increase repair costs, but ease of repair has not been a particularly major focus for Apple and the company already uses an integrated display on the iPhone,” he explained.

As things stand right now, it appears that the second-generation iPad Air is going to be a specs upgrade with a speedier processor, an improved camera, an up-to-date display technology and possibly a bit slimmer appearance.

The headline hardware addition should be Touch ID fingerprint sensor. Apple could also bond a thin layer of sapphire sheet to the cover glass to make the screen stronger and prone to scratches.

Would you consider ditching your iPad Air for a second-generation model?