The weeks leading up to a new Apple product launch are ludicrous and brilliant in equal measures. As preposterous rumours rub shoulders with hard-headed industry analysis, we delve in to try and make sense of it all.
iPad 3 release date
All signs now point to a March release. But when exactly in March is less clear.
iMore, which has broken some notable Apple news in the past, has pegged March 7th. Meanwhile, YourDailyMac has unearthed some carrier profiles for Apple’s next software update that suggest a due date of March 9th.
Price cuts for the current gen iPad 2 in the US add credence to suggestions that the iPad 3 will land imminently. As does the rise in leaks form the supply chain – something that’s entirely congruent with other big Apple product launches.
But it’s hard to shake the fact that if Apple is going to announce the tablet in the first week of March, it’d surely make some kind of announcement in February – purely to give the world’s press enough notice to haul butt to California for the launch.
Given that February is fast coming to an end, one thing seems increasingly certain, though. The iPad 3 is now looking more and more likely to land nearer the end of the month than the beginning.
iPad 3 price
Apple won plaudits and fans when it retained the price point for the original iPad for the iPad 2.
Will it be so generous this time, though? That depends on how much of an upgrade the iPad 3 represents.
For instance, screens are by some distance the most expensive part to produce. So if we do get the high density retina display, there’s a good chance we’ll be paying a premium for it.
That’s not to say that there is no incentive for Apple to hold its pricing again, though. Not least because it’s precisely that policy that helped prevent the likes of the similarly priced but less attractive Samsung Galaxy Tab from getting any traction.
iPad 3 specifications
What's under the hood? Read on to find out...
The iPad 3 will rock a quad-core processor
Word on the street is that Apple will replace the ARM A5 dual-core processor that features in the iPad 2 with an A6 quad-core number – also from the House of ARM.
Corroborating the rumour is that ARM partners have already got quad-core chipsets on the market. But perhaps the clearest indicator that this is going to happen came courtesy of Boy Genius Report.
Poring through diagnostic information pertaining to an iPad 3 prototype, the site came across something referred to as the 'DEVELOPMENTARMS5L8945X'. The plot thickened when it was discerned that the current gen ARM A4 processor is referred to with the same nomenclature followed by ‘S5L8930X’ in diagnostic gen for the A4 single core processor and S5L8940X for the current-gen dual core A5 model.
Putting two and two together, the BGR boys surmised that Apple is almost certainly doubling the iPad’s core count. And we’re very much inclined to believe them.
Retina display will be on board
Super AMOLED Plus, be damned. For our money, the iPhone 4 and 4S’s super high density retina display is the best in class.
Apple has been rumoured to be including a super high-density retina display in the iPad since the months leading up to the release of its second-gen tablet.
Latterly, however, the speculation has hit a new pitch. According to some sources, Apple is testing an iPad with screen resolution of 2048x1536. And it’s doing so on a 9.7-inch screen too apparently, suggesting that it has overcome problems it was thought to have been encountering scaling-up the tech for larger displays.
The company undertaking manufacturing duties hasn’t been established. Intriguingly, Samsung, which Apple is at loggerheads with over patent disputes is still in the frame. But LG and Sharp are also contenders, too.
They’ll be an iPad Mini too
Not long before he left the world of tech bereft last year, the late Steve Jobs categorically dismissed talk that Apple is planning a smaller tablet.
With a typical flourish and memorable turn of phrase, he said sub-nine-inch tablets were a non-starter “unless your tablet also includes sandpaper, so that the user can sand down their fingers to around one quarter of their present size".
But still the rumours persist. In recent months, we’ve heard talk of iPad sizes that range from seven inches, to 7.85-inches to eight inches. And if we believe what we’re told, the smaller version will sit alongside a revamped iSlate with the now standard 9.7-inch version.
There are plenty of reasons why Apple might have had a change of heart. But perhaps the most pertinent is the success of the compact Amazon Kindle Fire.
Since launching in mid-November, the loss-leading seven-inch slate is estimated to have racked up a whopping six million sales. And for us that’s more than enough to have Apple concerned that it might have a viable iPad challenger to deal with.
With that in mind, it’s hardly stretching credulity to imagine that Apple will bring a smaller tablet of its own to market. If only to see off the challenge of Amazon’s kit before it gets a chance to grab a foothold.
Apple has held fire on Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. And the reason for that is surely that there’s currently no universal standard for the tech.
That said, we also know that Apple has been experimenting with NFC. So you can’t totally rule it out just yet.
iPad 3 will offer better battery life
A leaked iPad 3 case and the extra space it afforded a larger logic board was interpreted as a fairly solid indicator that the tablet will feature a more substantial, longer-lasting battery.
Assuming it does get a resource-hungry super-high density retina display and quad-core processor, it’s fair to say that Apple’s next-gen iPad could really do with some extra juice. So this one seems highly likely to us.
Apple will buck form and opt for a beefier design
The iPad 3 is a gym bunny, we’re told. It’ll be 0.7mm thicker than the iPad 2, so as to make room for a twin-bar light system that a high density retina display requires.
Although that makes logistical sense, we can’t see Apple compromising on design and usability to incorporate the high-res screen. That’s just not the Cupertino way.
In keeping with earlier iPad and iPhone refreshes, the iPad 3 is expected to offer twice as much memory. That’d mean that the costliest top of the range iPad would pack a whopping 128GB of internal storage.
MicroSD card support
This was seen by many as a dead-cert for the iPad 2. But like the retina display, it failed to make the cut. Given that there’s been little mention of expandable memory coming to the iPad 3, we think it’s a no-on this time too.