Apple's next-generation tablet, presumably called the iPad 3, could cost about $70 to $80 more than the current price of an iPad 2, if the newest report from MacRumors proves true.
The rumors site points to a single user of Sina Weibo, a Chinese networking site similar to both Twitter and Facebook, who uploaded an image that shows a pricing comparison of the iPad 3 to the iPad 2. The spreadsheet is in Chinese, but the headlings labeled from left to right read: Apple iPad Model, iPad 2 US Price, iPad 3 US Price, and iPad 3 RMB equivalent price. The final column is calculated based on the exchange rate.
Compared to the U.S. price of the iPad 2, which starts at $499 for the 16 GB Wi-Fi-only model, the starting price of the iPad 3 is listed at $579 and goes as high as $899 for the model with 64GB, Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity.
Traditionally, when Apple launches a new product, the company will preserve the price but lower the prices of the older models. According to this chart, however, the iPad 3 with Wi-Fi will cost $80 more than the equivalent iPad 2 model, and the iPad 3 with 3G will cost about $70 more than the 3G iPad 2. If the chart is true, the iPad 3 would be the first instance of Apple deviating from its original price scheme.
The release of a new iPad would presumably mean that Apple's previous iPads would experience price cuts. If the iPad 3's starting price is $579, the iPad 2 could be reduced to $399, while the two-year-old iPad could be given a $299 price tag. Apple could surprise tablet fans, however, if it chose to price its original iPad at $249 or even $199. At such a low price, Apple's lowest tier tablet could easily surpass new e-reader tablets released by Amazon (Kindle Fire) and Barnes & Noble (Nook Tablet), which are both priced at $199.
Whether or not the iPad 3 gets a price hike from its predecessor will be known within a few weeks. Apple will reportedly unveil the iPad 3 on March 7, according to a report from iMore's editor-in-chief Rene Ritchie, who cites sources who have been reliable in the past. Ritchie has a solid track record for accurate reporting, particularly with Apple news and release dates. Last August, Ritchie correctly reported Apple's next iPhone would be unveiled in the first week of October and would be called iPhone 4S. At the time, all other reports called the speculative device the iPhone 5.
Ritchie's report aligns well with previous reports, including John Paczkowski's AllThingsD report that said Apple would launch the iPad 3 in the first week of March. It looks like the tablets are on their way: 9 to 5 Mac released a photo from yet another Sina Weibo user, which depicted cargo being loaded onto a cargo plane. The user claims the enormous boxes of cargo are filled with iPad 3 units.
Another post from Sina Weibo shared an image -- which has since been removed -- showing a detailed flight log for a series of high-security cargo flights from Chengdu, China -- where Apple assembles its iPads -- to Shanghai. Once in Shanghai, the iPad 3 units will reportedly take a total of six flights to the United States. Three of those six flights are reportedly headed to Chicago's O'Hare airport, two will head to Los Angeles International (LAX), and one will arrive at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport. The first batch of iPad 3s should be delivered to the three major U.S. cities by March 9.
Paczkowski's Feb. 9 report said that Apple will unveil the iPad 3 in San Francisco, presumably at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Apple's preferred location for big events like these. If Apple holds true to tradition, it will make the tablet available for purchase roughly a week or so after the unveiling. presumably at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Apple's preferred location for big events like these. If Apple holds true to tradition, it will make the tablet available for purchase roughly a week or so after the unveiling.
The iPad 3 is said to feature an improved camera, a bigger battery, and a dual-LED backlit system to power an 2048 x 1536 true HD display that looks, according to a source who spoke to The New York Times, truly amazing. 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.
There is an ongoing dispute over whether the iPad 3 will be powered by a dual-core A5X chip or a quad-core A6 chip. Code found within the iOS 5.1 beta release showed references to both chips, which indicates that Apple has built both and will wait until the last minute to decide which chip will go into which device. If Apple also releases a new Apple TV box like it is expected to, the Apple TV could be powered by the A5X while the iPad 3 could run on the more powerful A6.
The iPad 3 will also apparently be the first Apple iOS device to feature the high-speed LTE network. The Wall Street Journal confirms that AT&T and Verizon Wireless are getting ready to sell an LTE-capable iPad, which could achieve faster download and upload speeds compared to 3G technologies.
Apple hoped to include LTE in the iPhone 4S, but the current implementations of LTE in phones caused very short battery life, which was a major complaint by users. Apple CEO Tim Cook, in a company earnings conference call in April 2011, said first-generation LTE chipsets force a lot of design compromises.
The iPhone 4 PCB [printed circuit board] is already incredibly small, not leaving any room for an extra chip to enable LTE without shrinking the size of the battery, said Anand Shimpi, a chip expert and CEO of Anandtech.
Fortunately, Qualcomm recently unveiled the fifth iteration of its new chip, which supports TD-SCDMA, TD-LTE, HSPA+, EV-DO, embedded GPS, and LTE on TDD and FDD networks worldwide. The chip works with Android and Windows 8 devices, but by targeting so many different carriers, there's a high degree of likelihood that this will be the same chip inside the iPhone 5.
Apple has also reportedly upgraded its front and rear cameras for better Facetime and pictures. This is no surprise -- the camera system on the iPad 2 is now considered low-end, given that it only records up to 720p HD and requires tapping to focus. Assuming Apple outfitted the iPad 3 to shoot stills and video like the iPhone 4S, expect autofocus, video stabilization and full 1080p HD video recording.
Another reason to believe the iPad 3 can shoot 1080p video: Starting late last year, Apple reportedly asked several movie studios to submit content to the iTunes Store in 1080p.
Thus far, 1080p HD content has largely eluded users of Apple products, with HD versions of videos on the company's digital download service maxing out 720p (1280 x 720) and chief executive Steve Jobs balking at adoption of Blu-ray on Macs due to licensing complications and other challenges that he said threatened to translate into a 'bag of hurt.' But that could begin to change later this year, as a handful of feature films being submitted to the iTunes Store for a release in the September and October timeframe are being sent with documentation for an optional 1920 x 1080 resolution, according to people familiar with the matter.
Apple is expected to launch a new version of its operating system, iOS 5.1, along with the iPad 3. If this is true, iOS 5.1 could offer support for 1080p HD videos. The update would also apply to the Apple TV, which currently maxes out at 720p HD. Assuming iOS 5.1 releases alongside a new iPad and Apple TV device, users could start watching full HD videos on their Apple TVs, Mac computers and new iPad 3s starting in early March.