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Apple is reportedly set to begin production of its next-generation iPad Air this month with display components going into mass production in the middle of this month and components such as the processor and camera sensors going into production next month. The design of the sixth-generation full sized iPad will mimic that of the current model and the display resolution will stay at 2048 x 1536, according to ETNews.

The new iPad Air will sport a more advanced A8 processor, which sources previously noted focuses on efficiency and battery performance for the iPhone (likely for the iPad too):

Sources also say that Apple has developed a new A8 system-on-a-chip for the next iPhone that focuses on marginal speed improvements rather than core architectural changes, but adds significant performance and efficiency enhancements in order to improve the iPhone’s battery life. With a larger, higher-resolution display combined with the next iPhone’s far thinner body, the A8 chip will be essential to maintaining the seamless, fluid iPhone experience that Apple prides itself on.

The new rear-camera is expected to move from a 5 megapixel sensor to an 8 megapixel sensor (which would bring the tablet in line with the latest iPhones), and the front camera could make the jump from 1.2 megapixels to 1.5 megapixels. That’s a small jump on paper, but will likely make significant improvements in the quality of FaceTime calls and Photo Booth selfies. The iPhone still beats the iPad in the camera department with its True Tone dual-LED flash, Burst Mode, and Slow-Mo video capture mode, so perhaps Apple will also bring further parity in those areas upon launching the new Air.

While today’s report does not mention Touch ID, we’re expecting the new Air’s main selling point to be the addition of a fingerprint scanner in the Home button. As Apple launches iOS 8 with new Touch ID APIs for developers, Apple will want to spread the technology across its high-end device lineup.

On the other sides of the iPad line, Apple is also working on a new iPad mini with similar upgrades as well as a larger model with split-screen app multitasking. We’re expecting at least the new Air and Mini to hit sometime this fall, but the launch timeframe on the larger “Pro” model is not as clear.

Perhaps indicating that the new iPad Air and Mini models are hitting the marketplace sooner rather than later, the devices are already seeing some significant discounts from big name retailers. 

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