Apple will finally release its third-generation iPad, simply called the new iPad, starting at 8 a.m. local time on Friday, March 16. Assuming Apple continues its record-breaking ways, the company will experience unprecedented foot traffic at each of its 362 Apple Stores worldwide.
The new iPad will be sold in two different models, including a Wi-Fi only edition, and a version with Wi-Fi and 4G LTE capability. AT&T and Verizon Wireless will be ready to sell the new iPad at their stores come Friday, but they will only sell the 4G LTE models. Apple -- and possibly other big box retailers like Best Buy and Target -- will sell the Wi-Fi only models.
Pre-orders for the new iPad were available for some time, but most retailers like Radio Shack have sold out of the new tablet. If you want an iPad on day one, it's best to simply stand on line. Otherwise, if you want your brand-new iPad delivered to you, Apple will ship you the new iPad, but you'll have to wait between two to three weeks to get it.
For those who don't want to visit a nearby Apple Store, there will be plenty of other stores selling the new iPad on March 16. Here's the guide to getting one.
Online Apple Store: Don't bother with the online store if you want to be holding a new iPad on March 16. The shipping estimates from Apple's website say customers can expect their tablets between two to three weeks, which means those who buy it now won't have it until April.
Physical Apple Stores: Breaking away from company tradition, which used to sell new iPads in the afternoon on the release date, Apple will start to sell the new iPad at 8 a.m. on March 16. Expect long lines, as many customers love buying their new iDevices in person for the experience. The Apple Store is the one of the only places that will sell the Wi-Fi-only models of the new iPad.
AT&T Stores: While AT&T Stores typically open earlier than Apple Stores, the company will still have iPads ready to sell on March 16. The company has not yet received instructions from Apple, but expects to begin selling the device at 8 a.m. AT&T will only have the 4G LTE models available to sell.
Verizon Wireless Stores: Verizon Wireless will open a bit later than the Apple Stores, but the company might make an exception for this Friday, in order to release the new iPad at the same time as everyone else. One store employee told me that he and others are willing to take reservations for an iPad and hold onto it for an in-store pick-up on Friday, but you'll have to call your local Verizon Wireless store to arrange such a deal. Again, Verizon Wireless will only sell the 4G LTE version of the new iPad.
Best Buy: Even though some Best Buy stores are open 24 hours, the big box retailer still plans to sell the new iPad on Friday morning. The company has not heard from Apple whether it will sell 4G LTE models, the Wi-Fi-only model, or both, and the company is not taking any pre-orders or reservations. If you get in line here, however, there's a good chance you'll walk away with a new iPad, as other stores will carry fewer numbers and also must accommodate their pre-orders first.
Target: Similar to Best Buy's situation, Target also plans to sell the new iPad on Friday, but does not have any information as to the number of iPads available, or whether it will sell Wi-Fi-only models or 4G LTE ones too. Target is not accepting pre-orders, so the best thing to do, again, is get in line.
Sam's Club: While Apple's official statement says the new iPad will be available at Sam's Club, the retail chain still doesn't know which iPads it will sell, either the Wi-Fi option or the 4G LTE model. The store is not taking pre-orders.
Radio Shack: The Shack will sell the new iPad on its launch date, but each store is handling sales differently. All stores started accepting online and in-store pre-orders for the new tablet last week, but many of those stores have sold out of their pre-orders. Some larger Radio Shack stores are also accommodating lines of people, while others plan on only completing their pre-order sales. It's best to call your local Radio Shack and ask if they're still taking pre-orders, and if not, ask if the store will be taking lines of people for extra iPads.
The new iPad features improved front and rear cameras, the same 10-hour battery life, and a dual-LED backlit system that powers the 2048 x 1536 true HD Retina Display, which displays 3.1 million total pixels. The display features 44 percent greater saturation of colors than its predecessor, and includes one million more pixels than an HDTV. Apple's dual-LED solution makes the iPad's screen noticeably brighter, but it also apparently solved several puzzling issues with heat dissipation and battery consumption.
AT&T and Verizon have different plans ready for the 4G LTE models of the new iPad. Users receive 250 MB of data (don't laugh) for $14.99 a month, 3 GB for $30 a month, and 5 GB for $50 a month. Verizon Wireless sells 1 GB for $20 a month, 2 GB for $30 a month, and 5 GB for $50 a month.
If you want to buy an Apple Care+ plan for your new iPad, which is highly recommended, you'll have to visit an Apple Store or order a plan online.