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iPad 3 Rumor Roundup: Latest on Features, Pricing, Release Date

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Right now, we sit less than 24 hours out from the Apple event that will likely be the launch pad for the company’s next tablet which will likely be called either iPad 3 or iPad HD. And, as you might imagine, there are more than a few rumors out there about the hardware, the software that will supposedly be on board the hardware, the iPad 3′s release date, the pricing, and more.

It’s a lot to digest, we know.

So, we have decided to put up one last rumor roundup that should encompass everything that we currently think that the next iPad will be. From its name, to the possible pricing, to the carriers, to the software, to the hardware, it’s all here.

Of course, you’re going to have to wait until tomorrow to find out what’s true and what’s complete rubbish but until then, here is what we think we know about Apple’s next tablet.

Name

Believe or not, the next iPad may not have a number following it. Up until a few days ago, many believed that the device would follow in line and be called the iPad 3. However, there is a new front-runner.

iPad HD.

Multiple sources have revealed that this will be the name of the next iPad and there is even evidence from accessory makers Belkin and Griffin that seems to back up the claims.

Read: iPad HD Beating iPad 3 for Name of New iPad.

The HD likely refers to the high-definition Retina Display that the device is said to have on board.

Another possible name, although not rumored, is the iPad 2S.

The iPad 3/HD is expected to be an upgraded iPad 2 and if you recall, the iPhone 4S was an upgraded iPhone 4.

Hardware

Apple does an extremely good job of keeping its products under wraps. What this means is that while we think we have a pretty good grasp on what Apple will probably be including with the iPad 3, it’s possible that we could see something different launch in San Francisco tomorrow.

Remember the build-up to the iPhone 4S?

There was talk about a re-design, two models, and more, and Apple surprised a lot of people by introducing an upgraded iPhone 4. Point is, the iPad 3 is less of a mystery, but it’s still a mystery nonetheless.

That being said, let’s run down the features that we think will be on board the iPad 3 (or iPad HD) when it arrives, presumably tomorrow.

Retina Display

The iPad 3 is said to employ a high-resolution Retina Display that will likely bring 2048×1536 pixel resolution, quadruple the resolution that is found on the previous iPad models, the iPad and iPad 2.

To give you an idea about the power of the Retina Display, here is a photo of a game on the iPad 2′s screen:

Food Run iPad 2

Food Run on the iPad 2.

And here is how it would look on a Retina Display:

Food Run iPad 3

Food Run on a Retina Display

The difference is incredible.

Here’s a video showing the Retina Display we expect to see in the iPad HD. Unfortunately, you can’t see it in action, but Apple will surely show this off tomorrow.

Read: Retina Display Explained: Why the Retina Display Matters

So, if  true, expect an iPad that offers an incredible viewing and reading experience with crisp images and text.

4G LTE

Can a 4G LTE iPad 3 Catch on With Consumers?One of the more heavily rumored features is 4G LTE connectivity.

4G LTE, for those that don’t know, is a next-generation cellular network employed by several carriers around the world, that offers speeds up to 10 times faster than the data speeds found on regular old 3G.

There have been numerous confirmations that have come out in the last few days in favor of 4G LTE being on board the new iPad and at this point, it seems to be all but confirmed.

Improved Camera

iPad 3 vs. iPad 2 camera and back

Comparison of the iPad 3 camera and back to the iPad 2.

I think most of us will agree that while the iPad 2 is a stellar device, the rear camera left a lot to be desired. Yeah, the iPad isn’t exactly a photographer’s dream, but it would be nice to have an above camera on board.

Well, while we haven’t heard anything specific in regards to the camera, leaked parts point to Apple possibly including an upgraded sensor.

Powerful A5X Processor

There has been a lot of back and forth about the processor on board the iPad 3/iPad HD.

Apple A5X processorPreviously, there had been whispers about a quad-core A6 processor being the chip that would power the new iPad. Others have been saying that the device would feature a dual-core chip.

Both camps do seem to agree on one thing though.

That the processor will be more powerful than the processor found on the iPad 2. The iPad 3 will likely also feature a better GPU, which will bring better performance to, among other things, gaming.

Earlier today, we heard that the processor would be called the Apple A5X and that it will be dual-core. In addition, the iPad 3 is said to offer more RAM -amount currently unknown – then the iPad 2.

Similar Design

All signs point to the iPad 3 featuring a similar design to the iPad 2. It’s possible that it might be a little thicker – possibly because of the 4G LTE radio, the technology needed for the Retina Display and the camera sensor – but it likely won’t be much.

iPad 3 vs iPad 2

The iPad 3 is slightly thicker and has more tapered edges.

The device is also rumored to feature a tapered edge. You can see the what the iPad 3 or iPad HD might look like in the video below.

So, those expecting an overhauled design will likely be sorely disappointed by Apple’s announcement tomorrow.

Software

In addition to the all of the new hardware that is said to be arriving with the new iPad, Apple is also expected to launch a brand new piece of mobile software in the form of iOS 5.1.

Read: Ultimate iOS 5.1 Guide: Features, What’s New for iPhone 4S and iPad 3, Release Date.

iOS 5.1 will be the first major software release since the arrival of iOS 5 back in October of 2011 and it’s rumored to be bringing quite a bit along with it.

iOS 5.1 pre-launch logoHere are the rumored features:

  • New Mail Keyboard
  • New Camera Lock Screen Slider
  • Enhanced Notes App
  • Return of 3G Toggle
  • Siri Dictation
  • Better Battery Life
  • iTunes Match Over 3G
  • Improved PhotoStream

The software is also said to include two surprise features that haven’t been released to the public just yet. We have speculated that these might be new Siri options, possibly the ability to capture a photo or video and the ability to disable Bluetooth or Wi-Fi using voice, but as of right now, they are unknown.

Like iOS 5 and the iPhone 4S, we expect iOS 5.1 to be released before the new hardware. Right now, the release date is currently pegged for March 9th.

As for the devices that will be able to take advantage of the update, we fully expect it to be available to all of the usual suspects. That means:

  • iPhone 3GS, 4, 4S
  • iPad 1, 2, HD (3)
  • iPod touch 3rd and 4th gen

Carriers

As we’ve said, the iPad 3 is expect to include 4G LTE capabilities. And it just so happens that the two largest service providers, the same providers that have played host to the iPad before, AT&T and Verizon, both have 4G LTE networks in place.

There have also been numerous reports claiming that AT&T and Verizon will get the iPad 3 and iPad HD.

Now, does that mean that they will be the only carriers to offer the new iPad?

Maybe, maybe not.

Sprint, the U.S.’s third largest carrier, expects to get its 4G LTE network in place by the middle of 2012. In fact, it may arrive as soon as April. And with the carrier now carrying Apple’s iPhone 4S, it’s possible that we might see the iPad 3 arrive somewhere down the road.

After all, Sprint is the only carrier left that offers true unlimited data and that would be extremely enticing to consumers that like to devour data. Especially high-speed, 4G LTE data.

Pricing

iPad 3 PriceRight now, we fully expect Apple to offer up the same pricing on the iPad 3 that it does for the iPad 2, 4G LTE connectivity and all.

There was a rumor, supported by what appeared to be solid evidence, stating that Apple would indeed be boosting up the prices on the iPad 3 across the board. $70 on the Wi-Fi + 3G models and an $80 boost on the Wi-Fi only models, but that has since been disputed.

Apple will likely introduce a familiar price point for its new iPad which means that a 16GB Wi-Fi only model will likely cost $499 and the most expensive iPad that you can buy, the 64GB Wi-Fi + 3G version will cost the usual $829.

Those 4G LTE models will likely come with the same pay as you go, no-contract data plans that AT&T and Verizon offered with the iPad 2.

Verizon offers up 1GB of data for $20 while AT&T offers a variety of choices:

  • 250MB of data for $15/mo
  • 3GB of data for $30/mo
  • 5GB of data for $50/mo

Release Date

iPad HD Release DateWhile the launch date of the iPad 3/iPad HD is set in stone for 10am PST on March 7th, we still don’t know when Apple will be releasing the gadget to rabid consumers.

We do, however, have a pretty good lead.

Last year, Apple announced the iPad 2 on March 2nd and released it to consumers on March 11th. That’s a nine day turnaround.

We’ve heard that Apple might be doing something similar with the new iPad.

It seems Apple is gearing up to launch two new Apple stores on March 16th, one in London and the other in Texas. The Texas opening mysteriously got bumped up to March 16th, a Friday, a date that falls exactly nine days after the March 7th event that will take place tomorrow.

We also heard another report claiming that Apple is gearing up for a major event at Apple Stores on March 16th all but confirming the device’s release date.

It’s unclear if Apple will be taking pre-orders for the iPad 3, it didn’t for the iPad 2, and that means that those looking to get it on launch day are going to put in an order for one in a swift manner.

Apps and Accessories

Because the iPad 3 is rumored to have a new, high-definition display, it will likely have specific applications that it, and only it, will support. Apple has a penchant for introducing new applications with its new hardware and we expect the iPad 3′s launch to be no different.

As far as accessories are concerned, the one major one that we’ve been talking about is the case.

Well, we should say, cases.

Read: 5 Awesome iPad 3 Accessories We Want at Launch.

The new iPad may feature a slightly different design from the iPad 2 and that has people worried about whether the new one will fit inside an old case. We have heard that the iPad 2′s Smart Cover will likely fit the iPad 3, but, at this point, it’s impossible to know for sure.

We do know that several case makers already have cases primed and ready to go for the iPad 3 launch, so there will be no shortage of options when the next iPad arrives tomorrow morning.

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