Apple has been testing a giant iPad for at least three years now

For months, reports have said that Apple is preparing to release a larger iPad this year, perhaps called the iPad Pro.

While Apple has yet to confirm any plans regarding its future products, Business Insider has learned that Apple has been testing prototype iPads with bigger screens since as far back as 2012.

An iPad prototype from around that time had a screen that was larger than 12 inches, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Various reports have indicated that the so-called iPad Pro will have a screen that measures 12.2 or 12.9 inches in size, which would make it significantly larger than Apple’s current 9.7-inch iPad Air 2.

For context, a 12.9-inch iPad would be about the same size as the screen on a 13-inch MacBook. A 12.2-inch iPad would be about as large as Samsung’s Galaxy Note Pro.

We’re told this prototype from years ago was bare bones, and that Apple was likely running basic tests just to gauge how an iPad of that size would work and what kinds of use cases would be possible.

If Apple is preparing to release a larger iPad soon, the final version will likely be much different than the prototype spotted around 2012.

The new size option could help the iPad climb out of its sales slump as it might make it a better PC replacement in businesses. In an earnings call from January, Apple CEO Tim Cook already started subtly laying the foundation for why an iPad Pro would be necessary.

On the call, he talked about how there’s room for Apple to innovate in the workplace, especially now that it’s partnering with IBM.

“And so the real opportunity is to bring mobility into the enterprises and change how people work,” Cook said on the call.

Apple also recently added new features to the iPad that are meant to take advantage of its larger screen, such as the ability to view more than one app at a time on the iPad’s display. Another new capability allows you to use the iPad’s keyboard like a giant touchpad when you want to move the cursor around in an app such as Notes. Features like these, which will debut in Apple’s ohiOS 9 update this fall, could be even more useful on an iPad with a larger display.

Other than a bigger screen, some reports have suggested that the iPad Pro could come with a stylus and a slightly different design. Apple typically unveils its new iPad models in October, so there’s a chance we could see the iPad Pro launch later this year.

Apple has not responded to Business Insider’s request for comment on this story.

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