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Apple 'iPad Pro' may have smaller screen than thought, be thin as iPhone

A new rumor says the widely expected larger iPad may have a 12.2-inch display rather than the earlier rumored 12.9, and that it'll be slightly thicker than the iPad Air 2.

Apple is expected to go big with the next iPad, but according to a new rumor, maybe not as big as people have been saying.

The iPad Air 2 could get a larger sibling more geared for the workplace. CNET

The company's widely expected larger iPad, often referred to as the iPad Pro, will feature a 12.2-inch display, smaller than the rumored 12.9-inch size, according to Japanese site Macotakara, which has occasionally provided accurate rumors on Apple products. The iPad Air 2, released last month, has a 9.7-inch display.

In terms of thickness, the iPad Pro will fill out slightly compared with the iPad Air 2. Macotakara says its thickness is expected to be somewhere between an iPhone 6's 6.9 millimeter body and the iPhone 6 Plus's 7.1 millimeter body, thicker than the iPad Air 2's 6.1 millimeter frame, which is the thinnest iPad frame to date.

The new report provides the latest glimpse into the long-rumored iPad Pro, a larger, more work- and education-centric device that would compete directly against Microsoft's Surface Pro 3, which Microsoft positions as a replacement for a work PC. A jumbo-size iPad could provide a spark for Apple, which has suffered through three consecutive quarters of declining tablet sales.

Macotakara also said the iPad Pro would take some design cues from the iPad Air 2. It would feature a pair of speakers and microphones on the top and bottom sides of the device, possibly for stereo sound.

Apple is still months away from possibly unveiling a larger iPad (it hasn't yet confirmed such a device), and there have been a number of rumors about the gadget, so take the report with a grain of salt.

An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.

But a larger iPad does make sense. Apple already has an initiative focused on education and getting more tablets into schools, and the company also partnered with IBM to spur the development of enterprise apps. Rather than go with a less expensive product like the iPad Mini, an iPad Pro could make for a more profitable high-end model.

Apple could use the spark. While its iPhone business soared in the fiscal fourth quarter, sales of the iPad have waned. It was the third straight quarter of declines, and for the first time in three years, Mac sales surpassed iPad sales.

At the same time, Microsoft's Surface line gained steady traction, though it remains nowhere near the iPad in sales. In the last quarter, Microsoft saw sales of its Surface line rise 127 percent to $908 million. Apple's iPad unit generated revenue of $5.3 billion in the last quarter.

With Microsoft targeting businesses more aggressively, Apple could be looking to the iPad Pro to shore up its growing position in the workplace.