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.
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.
After the iPhone 5/iPhone 4S fiasco I'm not convinced Apple is going to release an iPad mini this year. Apple didn't need a new low-end iPhone to compete with other smartphone manufacturers at the end of 2011 like a lot of analysts predicted they would. The iPhone 4S performed well, and the iPhone 3GS allowed them to compete in the low-to-mid end market without having to release a new affordable phone. However, some analysts still believe Apple will release an iPad mini to compete with the Kindle Fire in 2012.
A Technology Business Research analyst believes Apple plans to release an iPad mini sometime this year. "I believe that's always been in the plan," Ezra Gottheil told Computer World. "Actually that's a good form factor for some users, and although they will also charge a premium above other similar-sized tablets, they want to protect that price flank."
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.
An iPad 3 announcement is still weeks away, but there's no shortage of information on the next generation iOS device. The latest leaks from BGR confirm some important specifications we can expect to see in the iPad 3 hardware.
Screenshots have leaked to BGR of iBoot allegedly running on a prototype iPad 3. Thanks to this debug software, confirmation of several reports from the supply chain appear to be verified on the new hardware itself.
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.