The rumors about iPad 3, or Apple's next generation tablet, has touched a fever-pitch with expectations growing that the tablet will launch in late February or early March.
iPad 3 did not surface at MacWorld-iWorld event and, with Apple keeping tightlipped, it's difficult to say whether all or any of the rumors will turn out to be true, including those about its specs. While some rumors appear plausible, some are too far-fetched or too good to be true.
From a better camera and Retina Display to a quad-core processor and NFC technology, here's a rundown of the features Tech & Trend thinks iPad 3 will boast of (and not boast of).
WHAT TO EXPECT IN IPAD 3:
DESIGN: Apple is anticipated to adopt a teardrop design for iPad 3 with an aluminum plate casing (as aluminum could be the consistent material used in the upcoming iPad, iPhone and iPod lineups).
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However, don't expect iPad 3 to be slimmer than iPad 2 - in fact, the next generation tablet could be a tad thicker especially if Apple improves the device's battery life and amps up the display resolution.
SIRI: Siri, the voice-command personal assistant, which helps a user get things done, has grown to become the most popular feature of iPhone 4S. The iPad 3 is rumored to come with an upgraded version of the voice command technology, that will have additional languages including Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Italian and Spanish.
DISPLAY: Apple most certainly will adopt QXGA 2048x1536 pixel resolution display or Retina Display in iPad 3. The existing display in iPad 2 is good for viewing basic videos and photos but can't handle architectural 3D renderings and full-HD graphics and videos well.
An improved display will be a major hit with developers as they can create applications and games that are demanding and can match console-class or desktop-PC type ones.
PROCESSOR: Apple is expected to feature A6 quad-core processor, especially if the company amps up the display resolution and adopts an improved Siri.
According to 9to5Mac, the latest iOS 5.1 beta contains updated processing-core management software that supports both dual-core processing enabled by the A5 iPhone and iPad chip and quad-core processing.
The report stated, citing an extremely reliable and knowledgeable people familiar with iOS's inner workings, that references to quad-core iPhone and iPad chips were found in a hidden panel that describes cores that are supported by iOS device hardware.
iPad 2 comes with A5 chipset that is powered by 1 GHz dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 CPU with NEON SIMD accelerator and a dual core PowerVR SGX543MP2 GPU. The A5 package contains 512 MB of low-power DDR2 RAM clocked at 533 MHz. It is expected that iPad 3 will integrate a fast 1.2-to-1.5 GHz quad-core A6 chip, with probably 1GB or more of RAM.
A report by CNET, citing sources familiar with Apple's chip strategy, also stated that Apple is going quad-core with its next A6 chip. According to the sources, Samsung will make (or is making) that processor either in South Korea or at its Austin, Texas facility.
However, adopting the quad-core processor may delay the tablet's launch. Apple's next iPad will be faster and more power-efficient thanks to its new, quad-core A6 processor, but the new tablet may not be ready to ship until next June, Linley Gwennap, founder and principal analyst at The Linley Group, told the PCWorld.
CAMERA: The iPad 2 comes with a 0.7 megapixel with 720p video capture capabilities and a secondary front-facing VGA one for video chat. However, that's not enough as competitors are shipping tablets with 3 megapixel and 5 megapixel camera and therefore, Apple needs to do better.
Apple is expected to bump up the camera specs in iPad 3 - the rear-facing camera is expected to be 5 megapixel or 8 megapixel with a dual LED flash. The flash unit is expected to be separated from the camera sensor. The camera sould be able to capture videos at 1080p. The front-facing video chat camera may be bumped up to 2 megapixel.
BATTERY: A better display, a more powerful processor and improved Siri means iPad 3 is going to become a power hungry tablet. So naturally, Apple has to ship iPad 3 with an improved battery life. Currently, iPad 2's battery lasts up to 10 hours.
DigiTimes reported that Apple is bumping up the battery to as high as 14,000 mAH (or more than double the present battery) and that Simplo Technology and Dynapack International Technology had both secured orders for batteries.
Even if taken with a pinch of salt, Jeffries analyst Peter Misek expects iPad 3 to have better battery life that should be longer, and the overall experience for users should be meaningfully improved.
4G LTE CONNECTIVITY: Apple has refused to adopt 4G LTE (Long-Term Evolution) technology in iPhone 4S as the first first generation LTE chipsets forced a lot of design compromises with its devices and that the company was not willing to make those compromises.
However, as more and more people are becoming used to 4G, which offers significantly faster download and upload speeds compared to 3G technologies, and as Qualcomm is reportedly developing a new, thinner LTE chipset that would answer most, if not all, of Apple's concerns, expect iPad 3 to support blazing 4G speed.
But be warned - the new LTE chip is expected to debut in the second or third quarter of 2012. So, if Apple adopts the chip in iPad 3, the launch could get delayed.
NFC: iPhone 4S does not support NFC (Near Field Communication) technology but Apple could break the barrier by adopting NFC technology in iPad 3.
NFC allows simplified transactions, data exchange, and connections with a touch. if NFC comes to iPad 3, you'll be able to use the tablet to make a credit card payment or use it as a keycard or ID card.
Face Recognition: iPad has grown to become a thief magnet. Apple is expected to bump up the security features of iPad 3 by making the device adopt face recognition technology. According to MacRumors, a patent was filed by Apple in 2010 that says a user profile would be immediately accessed once the iPad recognizes a user's face.
The face detection system could be a low-power system that is always active, allowing face detection to be the primary method to unlock the iOS device.
OPERATING SYSTEM: iPad 3 will run on iOS 5 or the latest version of it. Which means you get all the goodies of iOS 5, including iCloud.
PRICING: The price of iPad 3 is expected to range in $499 to $699 as did its predecessors at the time of their debut.
However, expect the price of iPad 2 to slip in the $199-$299 ballpark so that the company will effectively be able to compete with cheaper-priced tablets such as Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet.
WHAT NOT TO EXPECT IN IPAD 3:
Thunderbolt Port and SD Slot: Thunderbolt, or the super-fast docking port which can transfer data 20 times faster than USB 2.0, has come to the Apple Mac family but don't expect it to appear in iPad 3.
Same with SD card slot. Apple has always offered its iPads with fixed storage space and it's unlikely that it will deviate this time.
SMALLER SCREEN / BIGGER SCREEN: There are rumors that Apple will launch two new iPads in late-February or early March. While one will have the same 9.7-inch screen, the other will boast of a smaller 7.85-inch screen to compete with similarly sized tablets such as Kindle Fire.
However, we think that it's unlikely because iPad 3's predecessors have only been offered in only one screen size - 9.7-inch.
The same goes for rumors that claim iPad 3 may come with bigger screen size.
ADOBE FLASH SUPPORT AND REPLACEABLE BATTERY: I'll eat your hat and mine if the next generation iPad will support Adobe Flash. The same goes for user- replaceable battery.
ICS-esque OS: Jefferies analyst Peter Misek expects Apple to merge iOS (iPhone/iPad) and OS X (Mac) into a single platform for apps and cloud services starting either in 2012 or 2013 and complete in 2016.
No doubt, this will enable seamless syncing and transfer of data among different Apple products but don't expect the new Ice Cream Sandwich-esque OS to debut with iPad 3.
Have you heard of any preposterous rumors about iPad 3? Share it with us. Leave your comments below.