Apple is rumored to be kicking off the trial production of iPad 3, the next-generation model of its best-selling tablet iPad, in October, and gearing up for a full-fledged launch in early 2012. But what features will it have?
The Cupertino, Calif.-based company is reportedly planning to fit the iPad 3 with a retina display that will double the screen resolution from 1024x768 to 2048x1536.
This isn't altogether surprising, since the latest generation iPhone 4 comes with retina display.
Moreover, the rumor that the iPad 3 will be released in early 2012 falls in line with an earlier report from DigiTimes that the iPad 3's release has been delayed from Fall 2011 to the first quarter of 2012 because Apple's retina display suppliers are finding it difficult in reaching the target numbers.
Furthermore, a release in early 2012 would coincide with the launch schedules of the previous two iPads. The original iPad was launched on April 3, 2010, with its successor arriving less than a year later on March 2, 2011.
The Wall Street Journal was the first to report the latest iPad 3 rumor. Citing unnamed sources, the venerable newspaper said the iPad 3 will be hitting stores early in 2012 and testing of the device will commence this year in October.
An Apple component supplier told WSJ that Apple has already placed orders for parts of 1.5 million iPad 3s in the fourth quarter.
Suppliers will ramp up production and try to improve the yield rate for the new iPad in the fourth quarter before its official launch in early 2012, a person at the supplier told the Journal.
The rumors on iPad 3 making rounds about the Web say the tablet will be thinner, lighter and faster than existing models and will be equipped with a better screen.
Apple's iPad is a huge success. As of early August, an estimated 29 million iPads have been sold since the tablet went on sale in April 2010, which will help the tablet own 61 percent of the market by the end of the year. The technology giant also said it sold 9.25 million units of the tablet in the fiscal third quarter or nearly a triple of what it sold a year earlier.
However, Apple is feeling the heat from rival tablets such as Motorola Xoom and Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. The latter, which is slightly thinner and lighter, particularly is threatening to end iPad's dream run. Though similarly priced, the Galaxy Tab is equipped with more user-freindly front-facing and rear-facing cameras and a bigger screen.
While ZTE Corp, Toshiba Corp, Lenovo, Sony and ASUS have launched tablets with specs similar to iPad, online retail giant Amazon is also expected to launch a new Kindle-type tablet that will threaten the iPad.
Amidst this growing competition, iPad needs to distinguish itself from the pack if it is to retain its control over the market.
Of course, Apple has one less competitor to worry about now that HP has dropped out of the tablet race -- but it can't afford to wait for its rivals to catch up, or worse, surpass it with features and performance.
While it's not known for sure what features the iPad 3 will have, here are the top 10 features that we think would make the Apple's next generation 9.7-inch tablet a world-beater. Start the slideshow to find out.