In just one month, the iPad 2 will be a year old. That milestone means just one thing when it comes to Apple‘s (NASDAQ:AAPL) goods: New model. The Cupertino, Calif., company hasn’t officially started talking about the third-generation version of its popular tablet PC, but as tends to happen with its product releases, sources within its supply chain have given rise to numerous rumors about just what features and upgrades are likely to define the iPad 3.
Retina Display-quality high-resolution screen
The most consistent rumor surrounding the iPad 3 is that the new tablet will feature a high-resolution 2048-by-1536-pixel Retina Display, similar, in relation to screen size, to the 960-by-640-pixel resolution in the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S. Talk began in May 2011 of Samsung (PINK:SSNLF) preparing a new 10-inch screen for the device that was comparable in resolution to the Retina Display. Other rumors suggested that Apple would introduce a no-need-for-glasses stereoscopic 3D display in the iPad 3, similar to the one used in Nintendo‘s (PINK:NTDOY) Nintendo 3DS gaming device.
New front and rear cameras
iLounge‘s Jeremy Horowitz reported on Jan. 10 that he had actually seen prototype components of the iPad 3. While he said that the new tablet will, like the iPad 2, be more of an incremental upgrade than a major overhaul, the new device will feature brand new front and rear cameras. Considering that the iPhone 4S introduced new, HD-quality cameras when it released in October, it seems likely that Apple will bring those cameras to the new iPad as well. The one other significant detail from Horowitz’s report is that the iPad 3 will be slightly thicker than the iPad 2.
The popularity of Apple’s voice-operated personal assistant, Siri, has helped make the iPhone 4S an unprecedented success since its release in April, so its inclusion in the latest iPad seems like a guarantee. That said, it will likely be featured only in those models with 3G capability. As Cult of Mac smartly suggested in a Jan. 16 report, Siri itself is wholly reliant on Internet access to function, so Apple will likely only ship 3G (or, should Apple make the iPad 3 an LTE device, 4G) tablets with Siri on board.
The iPad 3 may in fact be the first Apple device to support LTE 4G networks like those run by Verizon (NYSE:VZ) and AT&T (NYSE:T). (LTE stands for Long Term Evolution, a high-speed wireless technology that supports roaming Internet access on mobile devices.) Citing three people familiar with the new tablet, Bloomberg reported on Jan. 13 that Apple would include LTE compatibility in the latest iPad. LTE networks are growing quickly and will likely replace current 3G networks in many markets by 2013-14. Apple has been rumored to be building LTE compatible smartphones and tablets for some time. It seems strange that Apple would introduce new mobile communications technology in a product other than the iPhone but it’s not impossible.