Ahead of next Thursday’s Apple event, new images purportedly showing parts for the new, full-sized iPad have emerged. Photos re-published by blog apple.club.tw show a full logic board for the new iPad Air as well as parts for the new Home button, glass screen cover, and audio control components. At first glance, the new iPad Air logic board does not reveal too much new, but adjusting the colors of the image shows a fairly unexpected addition: an A8X system-on-a-chip:
With the first-generation iPad Air last year, Apple utilized the A7 processor, the same chip used in the iPhone 5s. With Apple introducing the A8 chip with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in September of this year, it would make sense for Apple to use the same A8 component in the new iPad Air. But this new A8X chip indicates that Apple, once again, is moving to separate, more powerful processors for iPads.
With the third-generation iPad launch in early 2012 and the late-2012 launch of the fourth-generation model, Apple shipped A5X and A6X chips. These processors were variants of the iPhone’s A5 and A6 chips, but they included far stronger GPUs for better gaming performance and overall smoother operation of the iPad’s OS. The A8 chip is a powerful processor that handles the larger iPhone screens well, so it appears that the A8X, if legitimate, will bring the iPad farther ahead of the iPhone in terms of specifications for the first time in a couple of years.
Besides just making the iPad far better at graphics processing than the iPhone, there could be a couple of other reasons Apple is choosing to move to the A8X on the new iPad Air. There have been analyst reports and indications from the iOS 8.1 beta software development kit that Apple could be moving to higher-resolution Retina HD displays on the iPad Air this year. This could mean that the screen on the iPad Air is 30-40% sharper than the current 2048 x 1536 iPad Air panel. With all of those additional pixels across 9.7-inches of screen space, the iPad would likely require a stronger graphics processor to keep the device smooth during operation.
Another possibility is that the A8X chip works hand-in-hand with the rumored addition of 2GB of RAM. With additional RAM, Apple may be finally able to unleash the split-screen iPad multitasking mode it has been working on for a version of iOS 8.
Long rumored for the 2014 iPad update, these new images seem to confirm that Touch ID will be making its way to Apple’s tablet line for the first time. Above, you can see an image of the iPad’s Home button with the stainless steel detection ring found on the iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, and iPhone 6 Plus buttons.
To go with the new Home button, above is the tweaked display glass cover for the new iPad Air. Apple has been rumored to finally be moving to iPad glass that laminates the cover directly on the display, just like it has done with the iPhone since the iPhone 4 in 2010.
Also leaked today is the new volume control component. The audio volume up and down buttons can be seen on the lower-end of the image, but in line with some leaked shells, a dedicated mute switch is not seen on this particular part.
At this point, there has been a lack of leaks related to the new iPad mini, but perhaps that is due to rumored shipping constraints through 2014 for that new model. Altogether, we’re expecting at least a new iPad Air with a slightly thinner body, a gold color option, a stronger A8X chip, an improved display covering, the Touch ID fingerprint scanner, improved camera optics, and perhaps even a sharper display and a new split-screen multitasking mode. Also due at the October 16th event, which we’ll be covering: sharper iMacs and MacBooks as well as final details on OS X Yosemite.