April has been a busy month for iPad news, but especially so for Tactus. After publishing images of alleged iPhone 6 shells and iPad 5 cases last week, the British blogger on Monday evening leaked the alleged rear shell for the next-generation full-sized iPad. The photo is embedded below.
Tactus didn't detail any differences between the alleged new iPad shell and the iPad shells Apple has previously released, but the photo reveals a new dark aluminum form factor, similar to the iPad mini's.
The photo is consistent with previously alleged iPad 5 leaks, including the first photos that surfaced in January via 9to5Mac revealing the new form factor, which is inspired by the iPad mini's tapered backplate with thinner side bezels that shrink the overall tablet without affecting the 9.7-inch screen size.
Tactus did not release any images of the iPad 5's front face, but French site Nowhereelse.fr on April 10 claimed to post the first photos of the iPad 5's screen, which does reveal the iPad 5's thinner side bezels, among its other specs.
In December, Apple blog Macotakara pegged the iPad 5 to be 4mm shorter and 17mm narrower than the iPad 4, which would be about as thin as the first-generation iPad Mini. These dimensions have aligned well across all our previous iPad 5 leaks, which range from external shells to third-party cases and accessories.
iPad 5 Release Coming: A Thinner Tablet Needs A Thinner Screen
Though Tactus had no details about the specific dimensions of his alleged iPad 5 photo, he did say the iPad 5 would introduce Sharp's proprietary IGZO technology, which had been previously rumored to replace the current screens that house Apple's popular Retina display.
"IGZO displays use up to 90 percent less power than previous generation iPad displays, which means a smaller battery that reduces the overall weight and thickness," Tactus said in a blog post. "Everything’s slimming even more with every leak and rumour, I even think with the use of the IGZO display, Apple will be able to use a much slimmer LED backlight. I’m inclined to think the iPad 5 will shape up to be just 7.2mm thick because of the above points!"
If Tactus' prediction turns out true, Apple's iPad 5 will be exactly as thin as its first-generation iPad mini.
Taiwan-based Innolux Corp. (TPE:3481), which is one of Apple’s key component suppliers, has reportedly licensed Sharp's proprietary IGZO display technology, so it's possible for Apple to implement IGZO technology into its next-generation of iPhones and iPads. A December note from Asymco analyst Horace Dediu also points to the likelihood Apple will implement Sharp's ultrathin display technology, given Apple's $2.3 billion investment in the Japanese display maker.
Besides the external features, however, we don’t know much about the specs and software features in the iPad 5, but we have seen a few interesting iPad patents, including a built-in stand and backside controls for gaming.
iPad 5 Release Date Coming, But When?
As for the release date for the iPad 5, some sources like Digitimes believe Apple will introduce the fifth-generation iPad between July and August, while many more reliable Apple sources say the iPad 5 release date will arrive much sooner than that, as early as this month.
“I've been hearing rumblings of an April event for sometime now, as I'm sure we all have,” Fox anchor Clayton Morris said in a Branch chat with several other prominent Apple reporters. “But so many factors could be in play. The spring has traditionally been iPad season and we're hearing about cutbacks in larger iPad supply.”
“I've heard from several sources that there was/is an event planned for April, new 9.7 inch iPad if it's ready,” said iMore editor-in-chief Rene Ritchie.
“I've also heard April, but never in conjunction with iPhone, only iPad,” said TNW managing editor Matthew Panzarino.
“I've heard nothing, but I'd think Apple would like to introduce the new Mini-style full-size iPad in April,” said Daring Fireball’s John Gruber. “If we don't see it in April, I'd guess that it's late. And if it's late, I think they'd do a standalone event in May rather than hold it until WWDC in (I presume) June.”
Despite many reports mentioning Apple, we expect Apple to release the iPad 5 around June, which would coincide with the launch of its newest laptops, and precede the company's major iPhone launch in August or September, which is said to see two new models introduced. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted a similar timeline, and DigiTimes in November said Apple would release its next generation of iOS devices, including a new iPhone and a new iPad, “around the middle of 2013.” Given the number of iPad 5 leaks all essentially confirming each other, it's possible Apple is ready to launch its newest full-size tablet sooner rather than later.