Apple is busy prepping its next iPad, presumably called the iPad 3, for an early March unveiling and release. But even though this will be Apple's third iPad, there's a good chance the hype machine is actually promoting an iPad 2S.
It's October's iPhone announcement all over again. Everyone expected an iPhone 5, but when Apple unveiled an iPhone 4S, there was immediate and extreme disappointment, even though Apple never told the media to call its next smartphone the iPhone 5. The disappointment quickly wore off, however; the iPhone 4S helped Apple sell a record-high 37 million iPhones last quarter.
But if you look at the facts, it's easy to see why an iPad 3 could easily be an iPad 2S.
Is the Upgrade Drastic Enough?
The iPad 2 is a spectacular device, and while most of its important features will receive upgrades, it doesn't look like Apple overhauled anything for its third iPad.
The iPad 3 is said to feature improved battery life, better front and rear cameras, and also double the pixel density of its predecessor, with a full HD display resolution somewhere in the ballpark of 2,048 x 1,536 pixels. Apple reportedly achieved a greater and brighter display in its next iPad by adding two LED bars instead of one, which also apparently solved several puzzles involving heat dissipation and battery consumption.
An unnamed source who claims to be in possession of the iPad 3 also says Apple has built two different versions of the device, including a tablet that only uses Wi-Fi and one that is capable of Wi-Fi, embedded GSM, CDMA, and global LTE connections. The unnamed source procured the data using a development and debugging tool on the tablet called iBoot, which revealed model numbers J1 and J2, which had confirmed earlier reports that Apple's next-gen tablets would be codenamed J1 and J2.
Like the iPad 2, Apple has reportedly assembled two versions of its device -- one with Wi-Fi only capabilities, and one with Wi-Fi, 3G, and global LTE options, which would make it the first Apple device using the high-speed long-term evolution network. Apple had hoped to include LTE in the iPhone 4S, but due to its short battery life, CEO Tim Cook said LTE was nixed from the smartphone because first generation LTE chipsets force a lot of design compromises. Since then, however, Apple has reportedly found its LTE solution thanks to a new, thinner Qualcomm chip.
Earlier reports said Apple's next iPad would feature an upgraded processor, a quad-core chip called the A6, which would double the power and speed of the A5 chip that currently powers the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S. However, newer reports have refuted those rumors, stating that the chip will still be dual core, although it will likely feature a significantly more powerful graphics processor.
Besides an enhanced display and upgraded innards, not much will be changed in the next iPad. After all, if it ain't broke, why fix it?
Looks Matter to Apple
For one, Apple's third iPad closely mirrors the iPad 2 design, which has been confirmed by various leaked photos of the tablet. Besides a larger camera lens and a space for a bigger battery, the overall form factor of the iPad looks to have remained unchanged.
Examining Apple's track record, the company doesn't often dole out a new iOS device number (iPad 2, iPhone 4, etc.) unless the exterior design is different from prior models. The iPad 2 was drastically thinner than the iPad, so it deserved a new name. The iPhone 4 was different from the iPhone 3GS, and so on. On the flip side, Apple's October 2011 iPhone had an identical form factor to the iPhone 4, which ended up being called the iPhone 4S instead of 5.
If the leaked photos of the device are accurate, in the same way people can't distinguish an iPhone 4 from an iPhone 4S, a identical-looking iPad 2 could easily earn the name 2S.
Many would quickly argue, Why would Apple do that? Why would they disappoint their customers like that? Correction: Apple isn't disappointing anyone. As its spokespeople always say, Apple does not comment on rumors or speculation. They never have, and they never will. Apple lets the hype machine build up around its products -- based off supply chain rumors, bogus photos and phony reports -- but then assumes the blame when they release something other than what was expected.
Regardless of the name, whatever Apple's next iPad is called -- iPad 3, 2S, or 2LMNOP, users will be sure to enjoy an excellent experience. Apple wouldn't settle for anything less.