Apple iPad 3: What We Know So Far UPDATED

by Reads (22,649)

Update (3): Here is our full iPad 3rd Generation review.

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Update (2): The new Apple iPad is here! Read all about it: The ‘New Apple iPad’ Official

Also, check out our Apple iPad 2 vs ‘New’ Apple iPad comparison.

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Update: Apple has announced an iPad event scheduled for March 7. We have updated this page with the latest rumors leading up to the launch. We have also published the official TabletPCReview iPad HD/iPad 3 prediction based on the latest intel.

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All eyes are on Apple as it is expected and rumored to announce the iPad 3 in the coming months will host an event on March 7 in San Francisco to announce what is likely the next-generation iPad. While the notoriously secretive company has given no formal indication that it plans to announce its next iPad in February or March, the pictures don’t lie. Also, we are nearing the one-year anniversary of the iPad 2 launch, and two-year of the original iPad announcement. In addition, component suppliers and manufacturing partners in Asia are leaking details, and according to reports have begun ramping up production of the iPad 3.

iPad 3

The fact is that it’s time for Apple to move forward. The market-leading Apple iPad 2 is starting to show its age with its soon-to-be-outdated dual-core processor and paltry 1024 x 768 display. ASUS already has a quad-core Tegra 3 tablet on the market in the Transformer Prime, and tablets with 1920 x 1200 screen resolutions were unveiled CES 2012.  In addition, Apple is facing serious market pressure from low-priced brand-name Android tablets like the Amazon Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble NOOK Tablet, which are making a large dent in Apple’s tablet market share.

So it’s not a question of “if,” but “when” Apple will announce the device we are calling the iPad 3. Here’s what we know, based purely on speculation, rumors and leaks.

It will have a better display.

Apple disappointed many when the iPad 2 retained the same 1024 x 768 display resolution as the original iPad, especially after Apple unveiled the so-called Retina display for the iPhone 4 with a whopping 326 pixels per inch (ppi). While the iPad 2 still has one of the best displays on the market thanks to its ample brightness and excellent color reproduction, its 132 ppi will pale in comparison to the 220+ ppi featured on the ASUS Transformer Prime 700 Series and other newly-announced Android tablets.

Expect Apple to counter with a 2048 x 1536 resolution for the iPad 3/iPad 2S (more on that, later). Assuming Apple keeps the 9.7-inch display size, the next-generation iPad will have a 264 ppi count, which will likely be the highest in the 10-inch tablet market at the time of the iPad 3 launch.

Update: The Apple iPad event invitation features a picture of what appears to be a high-resolution display and the comment, “We have something you really have to see. And touch.” At this point, the Retina Display is all but confirmed. In addition, component makers have leaked purported high-resolution iPad 3 displays, which have been inspected by some in the gadget press.

Apple iPad 3

It will have a quad-core processor.
A5

The quad-core processor will essentially mean the end of the line for the original iPad, which has a single-core SoC.  There are already many new apps that the original iPad cannot handle, in particular games that were designed for the dual-core iPad 2. Apps designed for a quad-core device will be more resource intensive still, and will overwhelm the original iPad.

Update: Recent rumors reveal the existence of an Apple A5x chip, which suggests the new Apple iPad may only sport a slightly more powerful dual-core chip and not a quad-core unit. Of course, rumors have also leaked suggesting otherwise.

It will be slightly thicker.

In order to cram in a high-resolution display panel, and include a sufficient battery, Apple may have to add 1mm of thickness to the iPad 3. The iPad 2 is still one of the thinnest tablets around at 8.8mm, so an additional millimeter seems like a worthy sacrifice.

iPad

Update: The iPad 3 may also be buttonless, at least on the display. The so-called “home button” featured on the iPad and iPad 2 is not apparent on the invite picture. In addition, the phrase “And touch” suggests a completely touch-based tablet.

Update 2: It looks like M.I.C. Gadget has managed to piece together a full iPad 3 from its components, and they claim the iPad 3 will have a home button. Also, they claim the iPad 2 Smart Cover works with the new iPad.

iPad 3

It may not be called the iPad 3.

Apple may follow its iPhone naming convention and call the next generation iPad the iPad 2S, as has been rumored, iPad HD, or anything other than iPad 3. Apple did not follow up the iPhone with the iPhone 2, but rather the iPhone 3G, and the iPhone 4S came after the iPhone 4. Apple may save the name iPad 3 for what it believes to be it true next-generation device, one that redefines the market and does just feature a more powerful processor and better display.

Update: Apple iPad HD seems like a likely candidate.

It might have 4G LTE.

There is a very good chance the iPad 3 will come to both the Verizon and AT&T LTE networks, and a small chance it will also be available through Sprint, especially now that the iPhone is available on all three carriers. However, considering there is still no 4G LTE iPhone, a 4G LTE iPad 3 is not a sure bet. 

Speculation suggests that Apple is refraining from a 4G LTE smartphone until they can squeeze all-day battery life from an LTE handset. With the larger iPad battery, the LTE drain may not be as big a concern for Apple.

Update: The Wall Street Journal reported on February 14 that the iPad 3 will be coming to both AT&T’s and Verizon’s LTE network.

The iPad 2 might stick around.

Apple may keep the iPad 2 around and knock the price down to $399 or $299 (16GB, Wi-Fi) as a low-cost alternative to better compete with the Amazon Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble NOOK Tablet. Apple currently employs the same strategy with the iPhone, as users can still purchase both a discounted iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS from carriers with a contract.

It might cost the same as the iPad and iPad 2 at launch, or not.

It will have new and fun features.

Expect Apple to bring Siri to the new iPad, and also expect another unique and innovative selling point. Apple created quite a bit of buzz with the magnet-laden Smartcover during the iPad 2 launch, which many did not expect going into the announcement. There is plenty of room for improvement in the current iPad design, which still has a mediocre speaker and an extremely glossy and reflective display. Apple could really turn heads by addressing either or both with the new iPad.

TabletPCReview will have an eagle eye on the rumor mill and will update this article as new information leaks and we know more about Apple’s future iPad plans.

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