Rumor: improved iPad Air model with A8 chip and 8MP iSight camera enters production

iPad Air back

According to a questionable report published Wednesday by ETNews, Apple in a repeat of 2013 is set to release an improved iPad Air model. It will have the same design as the current iPad Air, the story has it.

Most of the changes deal with the innards, such as a more power efficient and slightly faster A8 chip and an eight-megapixel camera on the back, a bump up from the five-megapixel iSight module on existing iPads.

The front-facing FaceTime camera should also see a resolution increase, going from a rather paltry 1.2-megapixel module on current models to a slightly better 1.5-megapixel one…

These hardware improvements in the camera department should be coupled with iOS 8, which enables panoramic and time-lapse shooting modes.

ETNews [Google translate] claims that a slightly improved iPad Air will have the same 2,048-by-1,536 pixel resolution Retina screen and will retain the current 9.7-inch form factor and design.

The second-generation iPad Air (or the sixth-generation full-size iPad, if you will) allegedly goes into production over the course of this and next month as Apple is understood to be lining up its component suppliers as we speak.

Apple is expected to refresh its iOS device lineup around Fall.

The report makes no mention of Touch ID.

If I were a betting man, I’d assume Apple would want to roll out the fingerprint sensor across entire iOS device range, as soon as possible now that it has opened Touch ID to developers.

touch id ipad 5

We’re not sure what to make of this and ETNews isn’t the most reliable of sources. Apple did something similar back in 2013, when it released the iPad 4 mere six months after putting out the iPad 3 in March 2013.

The iPad 3 filed as Apple’s first iPad with the Retina display. Putting such a high-resolution 9.7-inch panel on a tablet put a lot of strain on the battery, prompting complaints from users over problems like device overheating and disappointing graphics performance.

Realizing as much, Tim Cook & Co. have replaced the iPad 3’s A5X chip with a much faster and – most importantly – more power efficient A6X chip with souped up graphics.

The current A7 chip is being fabbed by Samsung on its high-κ metal gate (HKMG) 28nm process. Making its successor, the A8 chip, more power efficient likely stems from a new process technology, like TSMC’s 20-nanometer tech.

iPad Air promo (A7 closeup 001)
Apple’s 64-bit A7 chip inside the iPad Air.

This would result in a smaller die, notably lower heat dissipation and faster performance because the electrons travel shorter distances.

Even though the iPad Air does not suffer from the iPad 3’s teething issues, it’s possible Apple has reckoned that switching from an annual to bi-annual refresh for iPads would be a wise move to keep up with the relentless pace of technological advancements.

What do you think?

I’m eager to hear your take so sound off in the comments.