Apple will launch its latest tablet -- the iPad 3 -- in February 2012, according a a Citi analyst. The launch will likely precede the Apple's highly-anticipated release of the iPhone 5, which most observers think will come in the summer of 2012.

Citing several sources, Citi analyst Richard Gardner said in a note that the iPad 3 will launch in February with a screen that has double the resolution of Apple's most recent model, the iPad 2. Such a screen enhancement would improve the iPad's graphics to sharpness levels available on Apple's popular iPhone 4 and 4S, according to CNET.

Rumors for the iPad 3 features suggest that Siri will be available, and possibly 4G.

Gardner said in the note there do not appear to be any significant technical hurdles remaining to delay Apple's launch of the iPad 3 beyond February. Apple's iPad is the world's bestselling tablet, easily dominating the market. Yet, iPad sales appeared to have slowed slightly due to increased competition from the lower-priced Amazon Kindle Fire, released in October.

Apple is expected to sell from 12 to 14 million iPads in the current quarter, yet new research suggests that the Kindle Fire will grab almost 20 percent of the tablet market in 2012, becoming the first legitimate contender for the iPad. Thus, Apple is expected to hurry the iPad 3 to market to maintain its dominant position as reports suggest that Sharp and Samsung have already started to ship Retina Displays to manufacturers in Asia for the iPad 3 for production.

If Apple launches the iPad 3 in February, as Gardner predicts, that paves the way for a summer release of the iPhone 5, with new features including a larger 4-inch display and possible LTE 4G capability. A report from ComputerWorld recently suggested that Apple's new iPhone, said to be last big project for the late Steve Jobs, will feature a quad-core processor A6 boosting power.