Well, we’re just a day away from Apple’s big event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, where the company will unveil its third generation iPad. Rumors have been flying for the last week, so at this point, it’s hard to tell what we’re going to see in the new iPad.
Will it come with LTE? Is it going to feature iOS 6? What about Siri integration? A lower price point? A higher price point? It’s all up in the air until 10 a.m. tomorrow, but let’s take a look at some of the features that seem the most plausible.
Retina Display – I would bet every dollar in my piggy bank that the iPad 3 will come equipped with a 2048 x 1536 high definition display. This is by far the most consistent rumor we’ve heard, and you know the saying – where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Even Apple’s event invitation appears to portray a higher resolution screen than what’s in the current iPad, so I’d say this is a sure thing.
Quad-core Processor/More RAM – A higher resolution display puts more of a strain on the iPad’s processor. The new iPad is most likely sporting an A6 processor, but no one is sure if it’s dual-core or quad-core. While an upgraded dual-core processor might be sufficient, there’s already been an Android tablet with a quad-core processor (the Transformer Prime), and Apple is rarely behind the times technologically. We haven’t heard many rumors about the RAM in the iPad 3, but due to the high resolution display, we may also get an upgrade from the current iPad’s 512.
Improved Cameras – Pictures of the alleged iPad 3 panels have shown a redesigned (and larger) camera hole, plus a higher resolution almost certainly calls for an upgraded camera. The iPad 2 has woefully inadequate cameras, so really, all Apple can do is improve upon them. The rather impressive camera in the iPhone 4S proved that Apple is dedicated to providing quality optics, and I think we’re going to see some iPhone 4S like camera upgrades (up to 3 megapixels in the front and 8 megapixels in the back). There’s also a good chance that the front-facing camera will be able to work with iChat’s 720p video.
LTE – There’s been a lot of speculation about 4G LTE and the iPad 3, but it looks like the iPad 3 may just be Apple’s first 4G device. The LTE Qualcomm chipset is available on the market, and phone carriers (AT&T and Verizon) have been making a serious push for 4G LTE connectivity. Current rumors state that the aforementioned carriers will be getting a 4G iPad, but that Sprint, the only U.S. iDevice network without 4G support, will be stuck with 3G. There’s been no mention of an international 4G LTE iPad, so that’s an unknown.
Siri Integration – There’s simply no reason not to add Siri to the next generation iPad, and even though we haven’t heard a lot about it, I think it’s safe to say the iPad 3 will be getting Siri, along with some iPad-only functionality to make up for the lack of smartphone features. Actually, Wednesday’s launch is the perfect time to announce increased functionality for the personal assistant. Will Siri finally be able to open third-party apps? Will developers have access to a Siri API?
Slightly Different Form Factor – According to leaked parts, the iPad 3 is going to look a whole lot like the iPad 2. This is unsurprisingly, because at this point, it’s hard to imagine what Apple could change without drastically new hardware. The iPad 3 will be thicker to accommodate both the higher resolution display and the larger battery needed to power it, but to compensate, it will have more tapered edges. This means the majority of your iPad 2 cases likely won’t fit the iPad 3.
Same Pricing - We’ve heard rumors that the iPad 3 is going to cost more because of the Retina Display, and we’ve also heard rumors that there’s going to be a lower cost, low end version of the tablet too. Apple’s really hit the sweet spot with its current pricing, and it’s unlikely that there will be a price hike or a price decrease on the new iPads. I’m not discounting a lower cost iPad 2 though.
iOS 5.1 – Ars Technica recently mentioned that it had devices running iOS 6 accessing its site, but it’s unlikely that the new iPad will be sporting such a significant upgrade, since we haven’t even seen iOS 5.1 yet. Instead, the iPad 3 release is the perfect time to launch the update, which has been in beta for some time now.
Home Button – The iPad portrayed in Apple’s elusive event invitation seemed to be lacking a home button where it should have been, leading to speculation that the iPad 3 would lack a physical button. While it’s not unheard of for Apple to forgo buttons (see the Mighty Mouse), it’s more likely that the missing home button was due to the angle or the orientation of the photo. The home button might look different, but it’s going to be somewhere on the iPad.
March 16th Release Date – I know this isn’t technically an iPad 3 component, but it’s an important addition. The event date is set, and if Apple uses the same timeline as last year, March 16th is the date the iPad will go on sale (last year, it was announced on March 2nd and on sale March 11th). There have been some rumors that Apple might be accepting iPad pre-orders this time, but that’s probably just wishful thinking. Apple doesn’t have a history of allowing iPad pre-orders, and why would the company pass up all that free long-line publicity?
Is there anything on this list that seems too far-fetched? Have I missed anything? What features are you expecting in the iPad 3? Also, are you as excited as I am about the iPad 3? It’s like Christmas in March!