Rumor roundup: ‘iPad 3’ release date, specs

February 8, 2012

As February ticks away, the rumors surrounding the next iPad are flowing fast and furious. Apple has the habit of pushing out its tablets in the spring, releasing the iPad 2 in March 2011 and the original model in April 2010. Here’s a general look at the rumors that are out there about the tablet — remember to take all with a healthy pinch of salt.

Release date: Conventional wisdom would say that the next iPad is coming this spring, as it has in the past. There had been rumors that Apple was planning a February event to show off a tablet — courtesy of the Japanese Apple blog Macotakara — but those were quickly squashed by The Loop’s Jim Dalrymple and, later, by the blog itself.

Most people in the speculation game seem to be leaning toward a release in March or April, based on reports from casemakers and accessory companies showing off their wares at January’s Consumer Electronics Show.

Display: The biggest expected change to the next iPad is its display. In fact, iLounge’s Jeremy Horwitz said in January that could be the only major difference.

As he wrote in January: “Think iPhone 4 to iPhone 4S: this device so resembles the iPad 2 that differences are only obvious when they’re placed next to each other. From the back, you could walk past this new iPad on display and have no idea that anything had changed.”

The display itself is supposed to have a better, clearer screen. That rumor’s been around for about six months, since This Is My Next (now The Verge) reported that Apple was planning to release a tablet with the iPhone 4S in the fall.

Lately, the rumor mill has been throwing out the possibility that the new iPad will have an IGZO (indium gallium zinc oxide) display from Sharp. The displays allow for more light to come through the screen from the backlight, which CNET reported could reduce production costs.

Thickness: Horwitz said that the iPad body is a little bit thicker — about 1 mm thicker, which could create some trouble for case makers. The camera is also supposed to be bigger, and is similar to the iPhone 4S camera, the report said.

iLounge had previously reported the possibility of a thicker iPad in November, saying that a higher-resolution display required an extra light behind the screen, adding to the iPad’s girth.

Speed: The iPad is also supposed to have an A6 chip and, according to Boy Genius Report, could have support for 4G networks. The report is based on a very shaky source — photos of a debug screen from someone claiming to have a prototype iPad. BGR said that the screenshots mention two new iPad models — which could indicate support for WiFi and cellular networks — and a quad-core chip.

4G support has been on the iPad owner’s wishlist for a while now, especially as Android tablets begin supporting the faster networks.

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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