Apple's refreshed iPad Air and OLED iPad Pro models could borrow a camera design change from its entry-level tablet

iPad Pro 12.9-inch in iMore freelancer's office
(Image credit: Future/Lloyd Coombes)

The rumors have heavily suggested that Apple is getting ready to launch a new round of iPads within the next few weeks and it's the very top end of the lineup that's expected to receive the attention. Updates to its best iPad lineups are long overdue, and we've been told to expect some new iPad Air tablets to go with brand-new OLED iPad Pros. There's a lot to be excited about across both of those lineups, but a new report has added an interesting new twist, and it's one that you might not have expected.

The twist relates to the placement of the FaceTime camera that will adorn the new iPad Air and iPad Pro models with the suggestion being that Apple will take some design inspiration from the opposite end of the iPad lineup. If correct, Apple will use the 10th-gen iPad's FaceTime camera placement as a jumping-off point for the upcoming iPad Air and iPad Pro products.

The placement of the FaceTime camera might not initially seem all that interesting. but it's actually a rather notable aspect of a tablet's design — especially at a time when Apple is once again trying to convince potential iPad buyers that its tablets can act as laptop replacement devices. To do that, they need to be attached to a keyboard and trackpad accessory which automatically places the tablet in landscape orientation. And if people want to then place a video call, having the camera to the side of the display is less than optimal — which is why Apple might be moving it to the top of the screen in landscape (or the side when in portrait.)

FaceTime maneuvers

The placement of the FaceTime camera has long been a bone of contention for people who found that the current configuration doesn't really work well when placing a video call. Those on the other end of the call feel like the iPad owner is looking off to the side, likely because they are, in a way that doesn't seem to affect laptops with the camera at the top of the display. For this reason, Apple moved the camera on the 10th-gen iPad and it received rave reviews for that decision. Now, the same chance could be coming to other iPads as well.

That's according to a post on Chinese social network Weibo by the leaker Instant Digital that was first spotted by MacRumors. According to that report, Apple will switch the FaceTime camera of the iPad Air and iPad Pro to the top of the display when it is placed in landscape orientation.

This isn't the first time we've seen a hint that this might happen, however. A January report suggested that such a thing could be in the offing after references in iOS 17.4's beta hinted as much.

As for the new tablets, the iPad Air is expected to receive a refreshed 11-inch model while a new 12.9-inch iPad Air is expected to be added to the mix. Both tablets are likely to use M2 chips.

The iPad Pro is expected to sport a new OLED display for improved colors and contrast while the M2 or M3 chip is likely to be used. 11-inch and 12.9-inch models are expected.

Rumors have suggested that all four new tablets will debut within the next few weeks, either in March or the early part of April.

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Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.