A set of leaked photos, claimed to be of the rear shell of Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) next-generation iPad Air 2, surfaced online this weekend, suggesting minor design changes to the upcoming iPad model, which is expected to be launched alongside the iPad mini 3 later this year.
The images, uploaded to China's Sina Weibo microblogging site and later spotted by Nowhereelse.fr, showed that the new iPad Air 2 could have bigger speaker outlets, recessed volume buttons and a microphone slot moved next to the iSight camera.
The leaked photos of the iPad Air 2 chassis show a design consistent with a non-functional replica of the upcoming flagship tablet that surfaced in June, Apple Insider reported, adding that the newly leaked metal rear shell is almost identical to the dummy model of the device. The dummy iPad Air 2 showed off a Touch ID home button for the tablet, along with recessed volume buttons and a re-designed speaker grille.
Similar to the mockup, the latest photos of the purported iPad Air 2 shell suggest there is no room for a “mute/orientation lock” toggle switch, which is found on the current iPad and iPhone models. Although a small pinhole is spotted on top of the volume buttons, its purpose remains a mystery.
While not much is heard about the iPad Air 2, some earlier reports claimed that the device is expected have a 9.7-inch Retina LCD display with a resolution of 2048x1536 pixels. Reports also said that Apple is not likely to make big changes to the new iPad model's design this year, but the device could feature an 8-megapixel rear camera, compared to the 5-megapixel camera found in the current version of the device.
In addition, the new iPad Air could also feature a faster A8 processor, which is expected to improve the tablet’s performance and battery life. The processor could also help the Touch ID fingerprint sensor, which is expected to be included in the new iPad Air.
Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst at KGI Securities, recently said in a new research note that Apple could include the Touch ID feature across all new iOS devices -- except for the iPod -- in 2014, including the iPhone 6, the iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 3 with Retina display.