Apple iPad 3 comes this week and the latest hoopla surrounding the release of Apple's next generation iPad is perhaps so overwhelming that even the current U.S. Presidential election has taken a backseat!

Is iPad 3 worth the madness? The answer will be revealed only after the unveiling of the much-anticipated device, rumored to be released on March 7 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. All eyes will be on Tim Cook as this would be his first major consumer announcement in the new post-Jobs era in Apple.

As soon as the news of the iPad 3 release hit the market, Apple enthusiasts were back at the rumor mills, calculating the expected features and the prospective price tag of the device. Since we have followed all the rumors on the iPad 3 closely and as the final day is almost upon us, let's check out all the speculations, starting from the name to the price and features of the device.

Speculated Features of the iPad 3

All the specifications of the iPad 3 are still based on rumors, so readers should take them with a pinch of salt! But the definite pattern of rumors suggest that all the features mentioned below have the highest probability of being incorporated in the latest Apple device.

1.  Retina Display - The market buzz is that Apple this time will pack a revolutionary retina display featuring double-resolution screen with 2048×1536 pixels and modified IGZO (indium, gallium, zinc) technology that will provide an improved pixel density of 330 ppi. This is a major upgrade on iPad 2's display of 1024x768 pixels and a pixel density of 132 ppi.

2. 14,000 mAH Battery - If rumors are to be believed, the iPad 3 will have a battery as high as 14,000 mAH to support the anticipated HD screen and a more powerful processor. Currently, the iPad 2 packs a Li-Po 6930 mAh battery but speculations suggest that to increase the pace and efficiency of the iPad 3, Apple will design a much better battery this time.

3. Quad-core Processor - Rumors and even 'leaked' images of the back panel of the iPad 3 suggest that Apple has changed the shape of the tablet to allow installation of a new and better A6 processor ditching the current A5 processor-based logic board. Reports even suggest that Apple is in talks with Samsung for manufacturing a quad-core processor for iPad 3. However, Apple might also decide to include a S5L8945X chip on the iPad 3, which may be an upgrade on the dual-core A5 processor but not A6 quad-core processor. In fact, that can be a level between dual and quad-core processor.

4. 4G LTE - Up until now, the Apple iPad has only provided WiFi-only and WiFi+3G support, but the iPad 3 this time is expected to support long-term evolution (LTE). Recent reports suggest that Apple has been working on making the iPad compatible with LTE.

5. 8 MP Camera - Days of 0.7 MP and VGA camera will end with the launch of iPad 3 as rumors are rife that Apple will provide an 8 megapixel camera on the iPad 3. Some leaked images of iPad 3 backpanel also show some changes in the housing of the camera, which gives momentum to the speculation of a better camera for the iPad 3.

7. Siri - The iPad 3 will also have Siri - Apple's revolutionary voice assistance.  Although the present version of Siri is not perfect, tablet users are expecting to receive an updated version of the feature in the iPad 3 that will have additional language support such as Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Italian and Spanish.

6. Near Field Communication Technology (NFC) - According to various rumors, Apple's software engineers are heavy into NFC and are creating an app compatible with NFC facilities for their new iPhone 5 and iPad 3.

Rumors of Two iPads - iPad Mini

The market is abuzz with expectations that Apple will release two versions of the iPad 3, with two different price tags. One is a small (called the iPad Mini) 7-inch (or 7.85-inch) version, targeting budget-minded tablet lovers, with decent features and a price tag similar to the Kindle Fire ($199) that can keep its chief competitors on their toes, while the other is a 9-inch tab, packing all the rumored features such as Retina Display, 4G LTE, quad-core processor, 8 MP rear camera and a higher price tag to attract Apple lovers belonging to the upper echelon. Digitimes earlier reported that the smaller version of the iPad 3 will come with a price tag of $249-$299 and Apple will crank up the volume for their all-new 7.85-inch iPad model sometime in Q3 2012.

According to a Chinese version of Twitter, the iPad 3 will see an increase of $80 for WiFi-only models and $70 for WiFi+3G models over the current iPad 2. That means the WiFi model will cost $579. It would be better if this remains just a rumor!

Apple iPad 3 Release Date

The news of the release of the iPad 3 created quite a stir in the last six months. With every passing day, different news of the iPad 3 release kept pouring in. But most of the speculations indicated a March or April 2012 release.

Apple news site iMore, citing reliable sources, had already confirmed the date ahead of any official announcement from Cupertino. Other reports that came in the last week of February also confirmed that the iPad 3 was ready to ship from Foxconn in China and a shipment would reach the U.S. on March 9.

In late November, Digitimes also reported that panel makers had already started shipping panels for the new iPad 3 - a million in October and two million in November.

Apple's troubled manufacturing partner Foxconn has reportedly begun production of the iPad 3 in January, according to a source in Bloomberg report. The company planned to reach full volume in February.

Rumors on iPad 3 Names

The credit for name-related rumors should go to Apple. Had Apple released the iPhone 4S as iPhone 5, the speculations about the name of the iPad 3 would not have gained much of a traction. Apple enthusiasts are now busy deciding on the name of the latest Apple device which can either be iPad 3, or iPad 2S or even iPad Mini.

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