Whether or not these predictions are true, the main takeaway here is that Apple faces an increasingly difficult task differentiating its tablet lineup. As the company introduces more mobile screen sizes, it’s not clear which model is right for which consumer.
The popularity of the iPhone Plus seems to have sidelined the 7.9-inch iPad mini (last updated in 2015), but the difference between the 9.7-inch iPad Pro and 9.7-inch iPad Air 2 is not at all obvious. Introducing a new model with a 10.5-inch screen certainly doesn’t help, and other reports have suggested that the 7.9-inch mini is getting a refresh this year.
The further we get into the iOS era, the more I'm realizing that all these different devices are capable of performing the same functions, and the task at hand is having to decide "what specific size of glass and metal slab should I use for this task?". And from my experience most people just know what size of phone or tablet they want as soon as they see them all beside each other in the store. People are very opinionated about what size of screen phone they want.
Regarding the comment on whether the iPad Air 2 and smaller iPad Pro are obviously different enough, sure they almost look the same but with very little research, it's easy to understand the obvious differences between these iPads. People are not stupid.
As for me, I'm really looking forward to this new bezel-less iPad. My second generation iPad Mini is not as quick as it used to be, and it doesn't support split-screen multitasking. I'm anxious to upgrade. But I find it hard to understand how exactly they will show this off before coming out with the vastly more important iPhone 8 which will presumably share the same Home-buttonless design. Obviously the iPhone is more important to Apple's bottom line than the iPad (by a factor of like 3:1) so I can't see them wanting to spoil the iPhone 8 to announce this new iPad.
I'm also curious about how they will change iOS to accommodate an iPad with no Home button. You can pinch with five fingers to go to the Home screen from any iPad app but that's not entirely obvious. They have to have some other solution up their sleeve to replate these basic functions that most people achieve by simply pressing a button. I really hope it's something other than an on screen button like Google has on the Pixel.