DisplaySearch analyst Richard Shim says production on the 2048 x 1532 iPad 3 panels has begun. "It's happening! Panel production has started [for the next-generation iPad]. There's three suppliers," Shim told CNET.
Early reports revealed Apple has already received one million displays for the iPad 3. If true, this puts the next generation iPad on course to be released as early as March 2012 like earlier rumors have suggested.
"It takes a couple of weeks for the production to go to the ODMs (the manufacturers). Then the manufacturer puts them in the housing. Then, that goes off to shipment. We could start seeing finished devices produced in December. And then being ready to be shipped in January. With volumes gearing up in February and March," Shim said.
If reports originating from parts suppliers are to be believed, Apple has already received one million 2048 x 1536 displays for the next generation iPad. LG Display, Samsung and Sharp are said to be working on an order of two million more display units for delivery this month.
The iPad 3 Retina display doubles display resolution in each direction on the 9.7-inch touch screen to 264 pixels per inch (ppi). Although the iPhone 4 Retina display comes in at 326 ppi, the smartphone is normally held closer to the eyes, requiring more resolution to eliminate the appearance of pixels. With four times the number of individual pixels the iPad 3 display will require more processing and battery power, possibly leading to a slightly thicker iPad 3.
So far the next generation iPad rumors have suggested Apple is working on a variety of smaller and thinner iPads, but a "reliable source" told iLounge a different story. The iLounge tipster said the iPhone, iPad and MacBook Pro will all be receiving redesigns in 2012.
The third-generation iPad will be thicker (0.7 mm) to accommodate the rumored dual OLED backlights, and it will be revealed in January followed by a March release. This is much a different story from the "iPad mini" and thinner iPad 2S rumors we've been hearing from other sources.
Apple is looking to improve display technology on its next generation iPad, and we're not just talking about a Retina display resolution. A patent filed by Apple in the first half of 2010 reveals designs for dual OLED backlights, as reported by Patently Apple. The diagram below shows a cross section of the OLED backlight layers.
Part of what makes this technology so impressive is its simplicity. Current LCD displays have multiple layers requiring more thickness, and as has been seen in the past on the iPad and iPhone, they can be prone to manufacturing problems. Light leaks and yellow discoloration have been reported on some defective units.
The iPad 3 will sport a quad-core A6 processor manufactured by Samsung according to a report sourced from the Korea Times. Despite Apple and Samsung's public feud over patents and competing mobile devices, Apple will continue to rely on Samsung to deliver the next generation processor.
Industry sources claim Samsung has increased production of the Apple-designed A6 quad-core chip using advanced 28-nanometer technology at its manufacturing plant in Austin, Texas. Apple is one of Samsung's largest clients, and Apple relies on Samsung's proven track record.
Time to stock up on your grains of salt, and strap yourself in for a long ride of iPad 3 and iPad 2S rumors. According to the DigiTimes, Apple is planning on launching a new thinner iPad 2 in March, not the iPad 3. The next generation iPad is currently rumored to be suffering from manufacturing problems that will push its release to Q3 of 2012. The iPad 3's rumored 2048 x 1536 Retina display is reportedly proving difficult for Samsung and LG Display to produce, and is the cause for the delay.
Analysts are also predicting Apple will release an "iPad mini" in 2012. The lower entry-level iPad could feature a 7-inch display with the same resolution as the iPad 2.
These are basically the same iPhone 5 and 4S rumors we heard in back August. Analysts and tech bloggers claimed there would be a newly designed iPhone 5 and a low priced iPhone 4S on the market in October. However, they were supposed to be released at the same time, not months apart.
Apple patents seem to be filed on a constant basis, and determining which concepts will make their way into next generation products is almost impossible. We know an iPad 3 is due for release in March 2012, but we also know that several patents relating to 3D user interfaces on mobile devices have been filed in the past two years.
PC Magazine reports that Apple may deploy an iPad gesture control that would operate using the front camera of the tablet. This would make it possible to operate the iPad from across the room, or by simply gesturing in space to control options on the screen.
Apple is planning to increase display resolution on the next generation iPad, however reports indicate that manufacturers Samsung and LG Display might not be ready to produce the parts in the quantities needed. Rumors of a fall 2011 iPad 3 launch were never verified, but display manufacturing challenges could be responsible for pushing things forward. Now the Wall Street Journal reports the iPad 3 is slated for a spring 2012 release.
Suppliers indicate the iPad 3 screen will double the current resolution of 1024 x 768, making the new Retina-style screen 2048 x 1536. This puts the number of pixels per inch on the 9.7-inch display at a formidable 264. The iPhone 4 and 4S both sport smaller Retina displays with a whopping 326 pixels per inch, although they are typically held closer to the eyes than tablets.
If the iPad 3 dock connector parts pictured below are real, then the next generation tablet will feature a slimmer, smaller connector. Although the parts have the same 30-pin configuration, the form factor is streamlined and would result in incompatibilities with current dock connector accessories. The parts were revealed by a Asian supplier website and represent an iPad 3 prototype design.
There's no telling if this iPad 3 prototype is the production model, however Macotakara claims the device is ready to be manufactured in January and could be released as early as March 2012. A change in the dock connector size would make the iPad 3 the first mobile device since the 2003 iPod not to use Apple's standard size cables.
Apple fans might not be ready to hear this news, but the recent HP TouchPad fire sale and the new Amazon Kindle have brought about a transformation in the tablet market. A lot of people view tablets as a luxury, not a necessity, and they're not willing to shell out $500 for an "oversized iPhone." The iPad may be great for business and working on the go, but the Kindle Fire is perfect for people looking to kill time at the airport or entertain their children. A tablet doesn't need all the bells and whistles for people to play Facebook games or color on Dora the Explorer.
All these reasons are why it would make sense for Apple to release a lower entry-level iPad in 2012. After talking with Taiwanese and Chinese component suppliers, Ticonderoga Securities analyst Brian White thinks that's exactly what Apple plans to do. White believes Apple will release the iPad mini in the first few months of 2012.