The design of the 9.7-inch iPad has remained static since its debut in March 2011, even with the release of the iPad 2. Two-and-a half years and two iPad models later, Apple is expected to unveil a newly-redesigned iPad that more closely resembles its "mini" counterpart.
But what can users specifically expect from this year's iPad release? We've been closely following the rumors for months, and we believe we have an accurate picture of what Apple plans to reveal and release later this month. Here are the 5 biggest features we're looking forward to seeing at this month's Apple event before the release date of the iPad 5, which we believe will be Friday, Nov. 1.
1. iPad Mini-Like Form Factor: Apple wants to make the full-size iPad look and feel more like the successful iPad mini, which is why Apple has reportedly chosen to release the iPad 5 with the same thickness, thin side bezels and symmetrical speaker grilles as the iPad mini, as well as a similar aluminum unibody and less-tapered back for an easier grip. With this new form factor, we're also expecting Apple to release the iPad 5 as a significantly lighter tablet than its predecessors: The iPad 4 weighs 1.46 pounds and the iPad mini weighs 0.69 pounds, so we're expecting Apple to release the iPad 5 somewhere between those two measurements, possibly at 1.08 pounds, or 490 grams.
2. Enhanced Specs: The iPad 4, whose release date a year ago was eight only short months after the release of the iPad 3, was powered by a dual-core A6X chip with quad-core graphics. For the release of the iPad 5, we believe Apple may implement its A7 chip from the iPhone 5s, but we're more likely to see Apple push the limits yet again with an A7X chip, which would perform similarly to the A7 chip but be optimized for iPad. If the A7X chip is anything at all like the A7 chip, that may mean Apple could release the iPad 5 with the same M7 co-processor found in the iPhone 5s (which isn't really essential, but it would be a test-run before the chip's mass implementation in the iWatch) as well as Touch ID -- more on that later.
3. Better Cameras: Most people don't use their iPad as their main camera, but it's about time the iPad got an upgrade in the camera department. The iPad 4 featured a 1.2-megapixel FaceTime HD camera with 720p HD video and a 5-megapixel rear-side camera with 1080p HD video, and we expect to give tweaks to both cameras. Corroborating the rumors, we believe Apple will release the iPad 5 with an 8-megapixel camera for the first time, and we also believe Apple will release the iPad 5 with a slightly-improved FaceTime HD camera, likely a 2-megapixel camera with 1080p HD video.
4. Touch ID: It may be a little early for Apple to implement Touch ID so soon after its initial release within the iPhone 5s, which was only two weeks ago, but assuming the iPad 5 features an upgrade in the processor department, Apple will release the iPad 5 with either an A7 or A7X chip. What's different about the A7 chip is that it's specifically designed for Touch ID: Apple designed the A7 so fingerprint information can be stored safely and securely within a cordoned-off region of the chip, which only communicates with other parts of the same chip with simple "yes" or "no" responses to make sure fingerprint information can never be reached and therefore compromised. So, if the iPad 5 runs on any variant of the A7 chip, consumers might expect to see a small metallic ring around the tablet's home button when the iPad 5 is released later this year.
5. New Colors: The iPad 4 and iPad mini are currently sold in two colors -- black and white. For the iPad 5, we believe Apple will introduce at least one new color option, since we've already seen the "space grey" and "typical silver" iPad 5 leaked by Sonny Dickson. But what about gold? The color proved extremely successful for the iPhone 5s, so it's possible Apple may release the iPad 5 with a similar gold option, although we've also heard Apple may reserve that color for the new iPad mini.
Considering how Apple is planning an event in October to reveal and release a handful of new hardware and software products, including new Macs, OS X Mavericks, new iPads and possibly even new Apple TV hardware, we believe Apple has chosen Tuesday, Oct. 22, to hold its media event, as it's far enough away from last month's iPhone event but gives Apple an opportunity to release all its products by Nov. 1. In fact, given this event date, we believe Apple will release its iPad 5 and iPad mini 2 one week after the event on Friday, Nov. 1.
What do you think about the iPad 5? Do you hope Apple includes more features or better specs in the iPad 5 its release date is announced later this month? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.