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.
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?
Next generation iPad cases have already begun popping up in China. The latest comes from the case manufacturer Chinee, who claims Apple will release a slightly thicker iPad, possibly called the iPad 2S, sometime this year.
Case manufacturers have already led us astray with the iPhone 5, and now they're starting to contradict each other when it comes to the next generation iPad. An unnamed iPad case designer recently told Cult of Mac that the iPad 3 would be thinner, not thicker. However, Chinee claims to have inside information from sources within Apple’s supply chain. If Chinee is correct, the new iPad will be 1mm thicker than the iPad 2.
A new report from the Japanese website Macotakara (via 9to5Mac) claims the iPad 3 will be announced in early February. This confirms Bloomberg's claim that iPad manufacturers are ramping up production for a possible March release.
Bloomberg said the next generation iPad will feature a high-definition screen, faster processor and LTE capabilities. Previous iPad 3 rumors have suggested a thicker device, HD front-facing camera, and Retina Display.
Sounds like those expecting a complete redesign of the iPad in the next generation hardware will be disappointed according to a new report. Apparently iLounge was lucky enough to get their hands on a prototype iPad, and the name iPad 2S is more appropriate than iPad 3 considering the profile of the device.
According to the report, the next iPad is barely thicker than the current iPad 2 model, to the tune of one millimeter. The only visible change to the hardware is a larger rear camera, which resembles that of the iPhone 4S. This includes a silver ring around the camera lens.
Apple is poised to release iOS devices with much faster quad-core processors later this year. The first device to feature the next generation A6 processor could be the iPad 3 this spring, however there are now rumors of an iPad 4 in the works for October 2012. Regardless, the A6 is the logical next step for Apple to take in their mobile devices.
The A4 was featured in the original iPad, and upgraded to the dual-core A5 chip in the iPad 2. According to research from 9to5 Mac the latest iOS 5.1 beta source code contains evidence that Apple is indeed working on a quad-core processor. Processing core management software has been adapted in iOS 5.1 to add "/cores/core.3" according to the report, which represents a fourth processing core.
Apple is poised to retain its dominance of the tablet market worldwide, and one leak of information after another is streaming out of Asia to reveal glimpses of what's next. Reports of more than one iPad model on the horizon are not new, however DigiTimes research indicates there could be three tiered models coming early this year.
The flagship model iPad 3 would be a high-end device featuring an updated screen with Retina-like resolution and top specs, including a next generation A6 mobile processor. A second tier A6-equipped iPad would feature the same insides however with a display matching the resolution of the iPad 2, which would reduce the price. Here's the kicker:
News of Apple's move towards IGZO (indium gallium zinc oxide) technology in the iPhone 5 display is not new, however reports have surfaced that show Apple could be using IGZO in the next generation iPad. The current iPad uses an IPS (in-plane switching) display, which provides a large viewing angle.
As seen in the diagram above from Semiconductor Portal, one advantage of an IGZO display is improved electron mobility. This means display pixels can be smaller (higher resolution) and more light passes through the IGZO display from the backlight. This reduces the brightness level needed from the backlight and saves power.
Production on the iPad 3 is moving along and the next generation device should be ready to launch in February, according to Citi analyst Richard Gardner. Gardner wrote that "several sources" have confirmed the iPad 3 will launch early next year.
The new 2048 x 1536 displays for the iPad 3 started shipping in November making earlier estimates for a release in March. The new iPad is rumored to be thicker to accommodate the new dual OLED backlights, and there may return of the curved profile we seen in the original iPad. The iPad 3 should also feature the new A6 chip which is currently being produced by Samsung.