Apple Reportedly to Unveil iPad Air 3, More Apple Watches in March

The new Apple hardware, including the 9.7-inch iPad Air 3 and a 4-inch iPhone 5se, is rumored to be announced at a March event, according to reports.

Apple, Apple Watch, iPad Air, iPad Air 3, iPhone 5se, iPhone

Apple is planning to debut a new iPad Air 3 tablet with a 9.7-inch display, a long-rumored 4-inch iPhone 5se and new Apple Watch models at a March event aimed at showing off its latest hardware.

The rumors of the new devices were based on reports from unnamed sources, according to a Jan. 27 story by While the name of the rumored iPad hasn't actually been released, it will likely be called the iPad Air 3, the story reported.

The latest Apple Watch models likely include assorted new colors for the line's rubber Sport Bands, more color choices in the Hermes bands available for the Watch, a black Milanese Loop band and a new band line that would be available in a new kind of material, the report added.

Software updates are also expected to help usher in some new features on the devices, the story said.

The rumored new iPad Air 3 could even include "a rear-facing LED flash for improved photos in low-light situations and additional speaker grills to better match the audio quality of the iPad Pro," the story reported. "Apple has also been testing versions of the 9.7-inch iPad panel that are compatible with the Apple Pencil, according to sources."

Any upcoming new devices from Apple are certainly targeting increased sales for the company, which is seeing sales slowdowns globally for some of its most popular devices, such as iPhones and iPads, according to Apple's latest quarterly sales figures, which were released Jan. 26. While Apple chalked up $75.9 billion in first-quarter revenue, a new record for the company, its sales of 74.7 million iPhones—little changed from the 74.5 million sold in the same quarter a year earlier—has analysts concerned, according to a recent eWEEK report.

First-quarter sales of iPads dropped to 16.1 million units from 21.4 million in the same quarter one year ago, while Mac sales slipped to 5.3 million this quarter, compared with 5.5 million one year ago.

The $75.9 billion in revenue for the company's fiscal 2016 first quarter, which ended Dec. 26, is up 2 percent from $74.6 billion in the same quarter one year ago, while the company's net income of $18.4 billion, which set another quarterly record, rose from $18 billion one year ago. Earnings rose to $3.28 per diluted share, up from $3.06 in the same quarter a year ago.

Recent reports about the rumored smaller iPhone 5se describe the handset as being a special edition variation of the previous 4-inch iPhone screen size and an enhanced version of the iPhone 5s. It won't be a smaller version of Apple's iPhone 6s, but is instead being built as an upgrade to the company's iPhone 5s that debuted in the fall of 2013.

According to sources, the rumored iPhone 5se will include upgrades in hardware and software as well as curved edges like those on the latest iPhone 6 and 6s devices, while the handset will retain the same 8-megapixel rear camera and 1.2-megapixel front camera systems used on the iPhone 6, the report continued. A near-field communication (NFC) chip will be incorporated to allow the phone to use Apple Pay, and it will also include camera support for larger panoramas and auto-focus for video recording. Also included will be faster and more powerful Apple A8 and M8 chips from the iPhone 6 and Bluetooth 4.2, voice over LTE (VoLTE), and 802.11ac WiFi chips from the iPhone 6s, the article reported.

Apple is planning to debut the smaller, more feature-laden phone to attract new buyers to a handset that won't take away sales from its larger flagship phones, while also encouraging iPhone 5 users to upgrade without having to move to one of the company's larger phones if they choose to carry a smaller phone, the story said.

The 4-inch iPhone 5se would be smaller than the company's existing 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhone smartphones, giving customers more options.

Rumors about the smaller 4-inch iPhone began in earnest in December 2015, according to an earlier eWEEK report, when a KGI Securities analyst wrote in a research report about the possibilities of such a device.

Apple's latest iPhone 6s and 6s Plus flagship smartphones went on sale in September 2015. The iPhone 6s includes a 4.7-inch display, while the 6s Plus has a 5.5-inch display, both of which are wrapped in a new stronger cover glass. Both new phones are built around Apple's fastest smartphone chip, the A9, which is a third-generation 64-bit chip. The cameras on the latest devices received a major upgrade with the addition of a new 12MP iSight camera that has 50 percent more pixels than earlier devices. Both phones also are now capable of 4K video, run on iOS 9 and include new 5MP FaceTime HD front cameras.

Earlier in January, reports surfaced that Apple is preparing to trim production of its iPhone 6 smartphones by about 30 percent through March due to growing stocks of unsold iPhone 6 smartphones around the world.