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The rumours are hotting up. Just a month after the iPad Air and Retina iPad mini took a bow, gossip about Apple’s next tablet is beginning to ripple across the web.

The so-called iPad Pro looks set to become the third model in Cupertino’s stable of slates, with the company clearly desperate to cling on to top spot in the tablet stakes, seeing off key rival Samsung in the process.

So, what are the key rumours? Read on and we’ll tell you the five bits of tittle tattle you need to know now.

1 Production has started

foxconn

According to a ‘local supplier’ in Korea, one of Apple’s key display producers in the country has already started work on screens for the iPad Pro.

This is a major piece of gossip, considering the last time we heard about the device from similar insiders, Apple appeared to simply be testing different size displays.

The suggestion was that this could just be a fact-finding exercise that would never see the light of day.

2 It’ll pack a 12.9-inch screen. Maybe...

iPad close-up photo app official

The same Korean source also says that the iPad Pro will rock a 12.9-inch screen.

That tallies with previous stories about Apple’s main supplier, Foxconn, testing a device with a screen that size.

However, rumours have also suggested Apple is keen on an 11.4-inch model as well.

Seeing as this would not offer much more screen real estate than the 9.7-inches on the iPad Air, the amped up 12.9-inch version appears more likely.

3 It’s coming early next year

calendar 2014

With production already underway, rumour is that the iPad Pro will be officially unveiled early next year.

That would give Apple the chance to reveal another model to compete with Samsung, which is fast gaining in the tablet space.

Its share now sits at 20.4%, with Apple’s down to just 29.6% according to IDC.

Apple needs the iPad Pro to help it maintain its position and stop Sammy from achieving its stated aim of being the world’s biggest smartphone and tablet manufacturer.

4 It’ll pack ultra HD smarts

iphone hd

The iPad Pro will need something to separate it from its smaller siblings.

Korean display suppliers are said to be readying an ultra HD screen, which would make the slate ideal of playing back video, as well as intensive work tasks like photo editing and splicing video.

It would also give Apple an edge when marketing the device against its rivals.

5 The name’s a no brainer

macbook pro

In choosing to name its new, super-slim slate the iPad Air, Apple has given a huge clue as to what this new, 12.9-inch model will be called.

Following MacBook naming conventions, Apple can easily sell the iPad Pro is a top-end device and use the same tactics it has in the laptop space, bIgging up the more high-end products for their better graphics and under-the-hood grunt.

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