Apple Flags 3-M New iPads Sold So Far, Reveals Planned Dividends, Share Buybacks
Apple reported on Monday that it has so far sold three million units of the new iPad, barely a week after the device was released. REUTERS

In three short days, Apple has sold off more three million copies of its third-generation iPad, simply called the new iPad, the company said in a statement released Monday. The new iPad features a gorgeous new Retina Display, which many critics say is the best screen to ever grace a tablet, the speeds of 4G LTE connectivity, an improved 5-megapixel iSight rear camera, and a bigger battery to power 10 hours of life.

The new iPad is a blockbuster with three million sold-the strongest iPad launch yet, said Phil Schiller, Apple's senior VP of marketing. Customers are loving the incredible new features of iPad, including the stunning Retina display, and we can't wait to get it into the hands of even more customers around the world this Friday.

On Friday, Apple will release the iPad in 24 more countries starting at 8:00 a.m. local time, including Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macau, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

The hype around the new iPad is really centered around the Retina Display, which many were skeptical Apple could pull off. But they did: The brilliant 2048 x 1536 display boasts 3.1 million total pixels, which is about 1 million more than an HDTV, and 44 percent greater saturation than its predecessor, the iPad 2. A new A5X chip with quad-core graphics makes videos and games really come alive, and along with the familiarity of multi-touch gestures, users feel more immersed in their content than ever before on the new iPad.

The new iPad is also the first Apple iOS device to feature the high-speed 4G LTE network. AT&T and Verizon Wireless are getting ready to sell an LTE-capable iPad, which could achieve faster download and upload speeds compared to 3G technologies.

Furthermore, the new iPad can act as a personal hotspot, which can host up to five devices. The iPad is also 3G world ready, meaning the user can roam around the world and pick up 3G with no problems.

Apple originally hoped to include LTE in the iPhone 4S, but the current implementations of LTE in phones caused very short battery life, which was a major complaint by users. Apple CEO Tim Cook, in a company earnings conference call in April 2011, said first-generation LTE chipsets force a lot of design compromises.

The iPhone 4 PCB [printed circuit board] is already incredibly small, not leaving any room for an extra chip to enable LTE without shrinking the size of the battery, said Anand Shimpi, a chip expert and CEO of Anandtech.

Fortunately, Qualcomm recently unveiled the fifth iteration of its new chip, which supports TD-SCDMA, TD-LTE, HSPA+, EV-DO, embedded GPS, and LTE on TDD and FDD networks worldwide. The chip works with Android and Windows 8 devices, but by targeting so many different carriers, there's a high degree of likelihood that this will be the same chip inside the iPhone 5.

Apple also upgraded its front and rear cameras for better photos and Facetime. This is no surprise -- the camera system on the iPad 2 was considered low-end, given that it only recorded up to 720p HD and required tapping to focus. However, Apple's new iSight camera only features 5-megapixels on the backside, and includes face detection, white balanace, and an infrared filter with advanced optics. And, of course, Apple outfitted the iPad HD with auto-focus, video stabilization and full 1080p HD video recording.

Apple didn't add Siri, but did add one of the iPhone AI's most popular features: voice dictation. The iPad keyboard was fitted with a new microphone button, which records whatever you say out loud and dictates your words into text in seconds.

The new iPad is sold in two different models, including a Wi-Fi only edition, and a version with Wi-Fi and 4G LTE capability. The new iPad is currently being sold by several retailers, including Apple, the AT&T Store, Verizon Wireless, Best Buy, Target, Sam's Club and Radio Shack. AT&T and Verizon Wireless will only sell the 4G LTE models; Apple, and possibly other big box retailers like Best Buy and Target, will sell the Wi-Fi only models.

AT&T and Verizon have different plans ready for the 4G LTE models of the new iPad. AT&T customers can opt to receive 250 MB of data (don't laugh) for $14.99 a month, 3 GB for $30 a month, or 5 GB for $50 a month. Verizon Wireless sells 1 GB for $20 a month, 2 GB for $30 a month, and 5 GB for $50 a month.

If you want to buy an Apple Care+ plan for your new iPad, which is highly recommended, you'll have to visit an Apple Store or order a plan online.