Well it looks like at least one iPad 3 rumor was correct. Apple will officially announce the next generation iPad next Wednesday, March 7, at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco at 10am PST. The invite's tagline reads "We have something you really have to see. And touch."
The next generation iPad is rumored to feature a high-resolution Retina Display (2048-by-1536 pixels), an improved camera and Apple's A5X chip with improved graphics engine. There have also been reports that Apple will announce an iPad mini, but I highly doubt it.
According to a chart posted on the Chinese microblogging site Sina Weibo, the iPad 3 will cost around $80 more than the iPad 2. "The headings are labeled left to right: 'Apple iPad Model', 'iPad 2 US Price', 'iPad 3 US Price', 'iPad 3 RMB equivalent price', explained MacRumors who discovered the price comparisons. The chart lists the iPad 3 WiFi models as $80 more than the iPad 2, and $70 more for the same 3G models.
It's believed that Apple will keep the iPad 2 around at a lower price point to offer a cheaper alternative like they did with iPhone 3GS. The iPad 2 and accessories are already seeing price cuts from retailers like Best Buy, who is currently offering the 16GB WiFi model for $450.
It looks like everyone and their brother has gotten their hands on an iPad 3 part of some kind. MICGadget has done a great job of collecting all the purported leaked photographs, and they even added a few of their own iPad 3 shell snapshots. If real the images reveal that the iPad 3 will be a little thicker than the iPad 2, but it also features tapered edges that will possibly make it feel thinner. The second photo shows that the iPad 3 has a larger lens for its rumored improved camera.
An unnamed source also told MICGadget that the iPad 3 will feature volume buttons, a 9.7 inch 2048 × 1536 Retina display and a "possible" quad-core A6 processor. There have been conflicting reports about the iPad 3's chip. It's still unkown if it will be quad-core or only dual-core, but it will most likely be more powerful than its predecessor.
While most leaked iPad component photos come as no surprise, those looking forward to the next generation Apple tablet were thrown for a loop when the A5X was discovered. Until now, reports pointed to a quad-core A6 processor in the iPad 3. If the A5X actually ships inside the next iPad, what do we already know?
The jump from the A4 system on a chip (SOC) to the A5 SOC was noted by a jump in the processor codes used by Apple. The A4 was S5L8930X, while the A5 added 10 to this number: S5L8940X. The A5X label only jumps 5 digits to S5L8945X, implying the chip is a more modest improvement over its predecessor.
New research from MacRumors confirms the next generation iPad will indeed carry a higher resolution display. Researchers at the site acquired a mass produced OEM replacement screen for the iPad 3 and examined the part under a microscope.
What the microscope revealed was a screen resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels, precisely four times the number of pixels on the current 1024 x 768 iPad 2 display. Individual pixel size can be seen in the images above from MacRumors, with 16 iPad 3 pixels taking up the same space as 4 iPad 2 pixels.
Some would say the cameras on the iPad 2 could be improved by shutting them off. When Apple launched the original iPad, much speculation surrounded the question of whether or not a front-facing camera would make its way into the device. In an apparent last-minute design change Apple did not ship the first generation iPad with a camera at all.
The iPad 2 has two cameras, however despite the ability of the rear camera to record HD video, the quality of the still photos pales in comparison to other iOS devices including the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S. Some have complained about the awkward shape of the iPad 2 for taking photographs and the low resolution of the images. So what's next for Apple's tablet in the camera department?
Several sources are reporting that Apple will announce the iPad 3 on March 7. The website iMore claims that they have confirmed the next generation tablet will feature Retina display, a quad-core A6 processor, and possibly 4G LTE.
Jim Dalrymple also said Apple will announce the iPad 3 on Wednesday, March 7. Both reports line up with a previous AllThingsD rumor that claimed Apple would unveil the iPad 3 during the first week of March.
When will Apple release the iPad 3? That's the big question. According to AllThingsD, Apple will make their big announcement in the first week of March at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. The official street date is unknown, but if AllThingsD is correct you can expect the device to be available sometime mid-March.
As for specifications John Paczkowski didn't have anything new to add. Paczkowski said we can expect a "device similar in form factor to the iPad 2, but running a much faster chip, sporting an improved graphics processing unit, and featuring a 2048×1536 Retina Display"... Which has pretty much been the consensus all along.
The rumor mill went into high gear after RepairLabs posted an image featuring the back housing for the next generation iPad. The alleged iPad 3 photo shows several changes when compared to the iPad 2. Here's RepairLabs conclusions after comparing the two devices (the iPad 2 is on the left, iPad 3 on the right):
A. You can see here that the mounts for the logic board are very different, which means the logic board shape will be different allowing for . . . .
B. More battery. The width of where the logic board sits on the iPad 2 appears much larger than that of the iPad 3. We have long heard that the iPad 3 was going to provide longer battery life, and this back housing seems to support that.
C. The camera is different. It is hard to make a judgment just by looking at the casing, but what we can expect is a different camera on the iPad 3 than what we had on the 2.
D. LCD will be different than what we have had before. Whether or not it will be the super screen we have seen reported will have to wait. But the different mounting does mean that the LCD has been redesigned at the very least.
The Japanese website Macotakara claims Apple will not launch the iPad 3 in February as previously suggested. Instead blogger Danbo says Apple will hold a "strange" event this month followed by a product announcement and launch in March. Macotakara previously cited an Asian supplier and a source in the U.S. as saying Apple would announce the iPad 3 in February. Danbo's new report is more in line with other rumors that have suggested the iPad 3 will be released next month.
As for the "strange" event I can only guess Danbo is talking about a similar affair like Apple's iBooks announcement in New York. Perhaps Apple only wants to focus on its next generation iPad in March, instead of boring us with Cards apps like they did at the Let’s Talk iPhone event last year.