Well, the iPad 3 release is just around the corner. Probably.
Maybe the iPad 2S release is just around the corner. Maybe everything significant that is known has been known for 6 months to a year already, and it amounts to the same ambiguous guesses — or, as Wired’s Christina Bonnington points out, “The lack of significant change is now worthy of rumor and speculation.”
In other words, we now have a solid base of rumors to base our wild speculation upon. What do we truly know right now, what is most likely, and what can we safely count out?
Safe Guesses About The iPad 3
As of Feb 25, we have a picture of something being loaded at Chengdu International Airport (near the Foxconn plant that makes the iPad 2) for delivery to O’Hare, JFK, and LAX. According to 9to5 Mac’s source, “iPad 3 (or whatever Apple chooses to call it) shipments are already coming from China for delivery to three of America’s biggest airports…initial deliveries would begin March 9. In typical Apple fashion, the cargo flight organizers are demanding unusual security for the cargo.”
This dovetails with The Almost-Certain Release Date of Wednesday March 7. iMore cited “sources who have been reliable in the past,” and 9to5 Mac in turn assures us that “iMore provided correct iPhone 4S launch and feature information” several months in advance. All of which supports the less specific but more informative sources quoted by All Things Digital report, saying that Apple “has chosen the first week in March to debut the successor to the iPad 2, and will do so at one of its trademark special events.”
What’s Inside The iPad3?
Again, there are a full spectrum of speculations, from educated near-certainties all the way to wild guesses:
The CPU: it’s definitely a quad-core A6, unless it’s a quad-core A5X, or possibly both. An updated A5 chip may increase the likelihood that we’ll see an ‘iPad 2S’ in March, rather than a full-on iPad 3 (which, if that’s the case, may or may not come later in the year).
The screen: a Retina display at 2048×1536 is virtually a foregone conclusion, now that we have an in-depth physical examination. “While these iPad 3 screens weren’t directly sourced from Apple, they are labeled as OEM replacement parts for the iPad 3 and are apparently in mass production,” said Mac Rumors. “The difficulties of any 3rd party in mass producing 2048×1536 9.7in Retina displays make us quite confident that these represent legitimate iPad 3 parts.”
Form factor: nobody knows whether it will be slightly thicker or slightly thinner, but the 10″ display is 99.9% confirmed (see above). Still, but the 8″ display rumor is very popular (and even semi-substantiated), and there could be TWO new products coming out in March, or maybe one iPad in March and one later in the year. Sure, Steve Jobs famously dismissed 7″ tablets, but after all 8″ is ONE INCH BIGGER. Plus, the 7″ Kindle Fire did make a slight dent in Apple’s market share, which I’m sure Apple considers to be one slight dent too many.
Will The New iPad Improves Old Flaws?
Better cam: People are convinced that the sub-par iPad camera needs to be upgraded. Ironically, many people are also convinced that tablets aren’t really suited for taking pictures. Nevertheless, we can pretty much count on the third generation of Apple’s fish getting a better bicycle, with 5 megapixels being a popular figure, and 8 MP now the odds-on favorite.
Better front-facing cam: personally, “a FaceTime HD front camera” doesn’t strike me as particularly likely, but it comes from “sources who have been reliable in the past”.
LTE: “‘Verizon Communications Inc. and AT&T Inc. will sell a version of the coming iPad that runs on their newest fourth-generation wireless networks, according to people familiar with the matter,’” wrote the Wall Street Journal, by way of MacRumors. “‘Whether other carriers will also sell the device couldn’t be learned.’ The WSJ noted that the devices will fall back to a “slower network technology” when LTE isn’t available…there is no indication if the AT&T and Verizon iPads would be one model that can operate on both networks or separate units with individual SKUs, as they are currently.” If you’re keeping track, you’re now three steps away from unnamed sources purple monkey dishwasher.
The dock connector saga:
Apple may be moving toward a dock connector with something a little more space-conscious, according to iMore. However, iMore also observes that space really isn’t as big an issue on the iPad (well, the likely 10” rather than the dubious 8” model, anyway, or at least the certain next-gen iPhone). Ironically, if Apple really listened to what consumers want, you could bet on USB — which as we all know won’t be on the next iPad, or on any Apple product ever.
The iPad 3 will make Risotto:
No, not really. But it makes for a funny headline.