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Thin naked model slips out of Apple's secretive lab ... it's an 'iPad Air 2'

Out of the lab and into the fab, we're guessing

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A fresh set of pictures from China show what could be the outer casing for the next iPad, possibly a thinner iPad Air 2.

A user on social network Weibo posted a trio of images with the claim that the pictures depict Cupertino's new fondleslab. The report does not provide any technical details on the hardware.

Screen-grab of the iPad 2

Maybe the makings of a new iThing?

The images would appear to support evidence from earlier this year of a new iPad Air, one that apparently has the same 9.7in screen as the model on sale today.

The new slab is said to feature a thinner display – allowing for a slimmer case or a larger battery – and a fresh speaker grill design.

These photos, much like the set leaked in April, would appear to have been snapped at one of the facilities in Asia contracted to manufacture and assembly the iOS slabs.

Apple, which is notoriously secretively, is likely to maintain its Fall release schedule, unveiling and releasing the tablet just in time for the holiday shopping season.

When it does arrive, the new iPad could be Apple's most important since the tablet line debuted in 2010. While the iPad has throughout its life been one of the most sought-after pieces of kit on the market, tablet sales have slowed for the company of late and Apple's last quarter showed uncharacteristically grim iPad sales.

Apple is not alone in this regard – tablet sales growth has slowed across the board – but analysts have spotted signs that the iThing maker has realized its stranglehold on the slab sector waning. ®

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