Feb. 2, 2012 at 11:16 AM ET
It's that time of the year again — that agonizing month before the next iPad launch when there seems to be a fresh rumor every hour about the hot, new, upcoming model. Though the iPhone 5 rumors of last fall amounted to very little, there is always some truth mixed in with the noise. In an effort to share the buzz, and seek out those kernels of legitimacy, we've compiled the most significant iPad 3 rumors for you here.
From the "source claiming to be in possession of an iPad 3 prototype" who provided screenshots of development data to Boy Genius Report to the steady stream of anonymous folks involved in the Apple component supply chain who whisper secrets to Digitimes, there's hardly a shortage of potential information about the next-generation iPad.
What will it be called?
So far there doesn't seem to be much disagreement regarding the name of the next-generation iPad. Most folks are sticking with the assumption that it will be called the iPad 3.
There are a handful of reports — one by iLounge, in particular — which suggest that the next-generation iPad will be so similar to the iPad 2 that it might as well be dubbed the iPad 2S or iPad 2HD though. Not likely.
When will it arrive?
The first generation iPad was announced on Jan. 27, 2010. It became available in the U.S. on April 3, 2010. The iPad 2 was announced on March 2, 2011 and became available in the U.S. on March 11, 2011.
Recent reports by MacRumors and Japanese blog Macotakara suggest that production of the next-generation iPad has begun and that the device is "targeted for shipment in early March." The folks at Bloomberg say that "three people familiar with the product" have confirmed that it will arrive in March as well.
The Wall Street Journal quotes a report analyst Richard Garner wrote for Citigroup Global Markets when it claims that the iPad 3 will be arriving a bit sooner. "The iPad 3 will be launched in February 2012," offers the publication's Simon Constable.
While I'm hoping that Garner and the Wall Street Journal are hitting the right date — sooner must be better, right? — the more persistent rumors appear to be sticking with a March shipment date. Our best bet for an Apple unveiling would be the first week in March, probably Tuesday, March 6 (as Apple generally favors Tuesday press events), with the product hitting stores by March 16.
How will it look?
iLounge's Jeremy Horwitz claims that he had the opportunity to see "what's supposedly the next-generation iPad" at the Consumer Electronics Show:
Think iPhone 4 to iPhone 4S: This device so resembles the iPad 2 that differences are only obvious when they’re placed next to each other. From the back, you could walk past this new iPad on display and have no idea that anything had changed.
Horwitz describes the device as being roughly 1 millimeter thicker than its predecessor (a barely perceptible difference). He also remarks that the rear-camera seems to be slightly bigger and resembles the rear-camera of the iPhone 4S, sans the LED flash.
Japanese blog Macotakara backed up these claims, but also noted that "tight-fitting iPad 2 cases will apparently not fit the new model but that the Smart Cover will be compatible with the new model despite an adjustment in the location of the device's magnets," according to MacRumors. (I'll assume that MacRumor's description of Macotakara's report is accurate as my Japanese translation skills are lacking.)
According to Bloomberg's sources, the new device "will sport a high-definition screen." This is widely assumed, but it's worth noting that a similar feature was reportedly coming to the iPad 2 according to last year's rumor mill. If the iPad 3 does get a high-rez screen, it will be because the costs prohibiting the upgrade last year have come down sufficiently for this year's model.
What sort of guts will it have?
Better, faster, stronger. That's the theme when it comes to rumors about the next-generation iPad's insides. And quite frankly, that's right on par with rumors about any other next-generation device.
Images supposedly showing "output from an iPad 3 using a development and debug tool" were provided to BGR recently. Those images suggest that there will be two versions of the device — one with Wi-Fi only and one with Wi-Fi and "embedded GSM/CDMA/LTE for all carriers." Based on the images it also appears that the next-generation iPad should use an A6 processor, specifically a quad-core model.
Bloomberg's got multiple sources claiming something similar, that the "tablet will use a quad-core chip," that "Apple is bringing LTE to the iPad," and that the device's "new display is capable of greater resolution than the current iPad, with more pixels on its screen than some high- definition televisions."
LTE (the technology behind Verizon's 4G network, and new networks by AT&T and Sprint as well) would be a big move for Apple, which famously rejected any 4G technology for the iPhone 4S. If the iPad 3 has LTE, it is not only a sign that Apple can keep up with the competition, but that it has accepted the technology for its next iPhone, too.
The Digitimes also offers that the iPad 3 will likely contain a higher-capacity battery than the current generation — which would particularly make sense if there is support for LTE, a known battery hog.
What did we learn?
As my colleague Wilson Rothman remarked when he rounded up iPhone rumors a while back, Keyser Soze's Law tends to apply when it comes to Apple gossip: "A rumor's not a rumor that doesn't die."
In other words, the particularly persistent rumors tend to be the ones which turn out to be true.
This means that the best guesses when it comes to the next-generation iPad — presumably called the iPad 3 — are that it will arrive in March, resemble the iPad 2 quite a bit, contain a more powerful processor, offer a higher-resolution display than the iPad 2, and support LTE connectivity. Any "sources familiar with the matter" care to dispute that?
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