It’s just a few short weeks until Apple decides to show the world what it’s got in store for us with the iPad 3. While both consumers and Apple’s rivals wait to see what emerges, we thought we’d best assess all the rumours and gossip to see what we’re likely to end up with.

This is all you need to know ahead of the iPad 3 launch.

iPad 2S?

Word from iLounge early this year pointed to a pretty modest update to the current iPad. The website’s editor claimed to have been shown a tiny glimpse of the device, which was being touted as more of an iPad 2S than an iPad 3. Weirdly, iLounge suggested that the iPad sequel is actually thicker than the current model.

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Separate reports seemed to confirm this. The minor update that would be the iPad 2S/3 would come ahead of a full on sequel in October – the iPad 4. We’re not sure what to make of it. While there’s probably not an awful lot of scope for tremendous change year on year, the idea of two separate iPads launching in the same year seems unlikely.

iPad 3 specs

The spec rumours pertain to four main areas: the camera, the display, the battery and the processor. The rear-facing camera, as noted by many separate sources, is believed to be jumping up to the same quality as found on the iPhone 4S – that’s an 8-Megapixel sensor, for those counting.

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The display remains a point of contention. We reported last year that source code in iOS 5 points to a Retina Display, many conflicting reports have been throwing up something altogether different. The consensus to be drawn from all the noise is that the iPad 3 is likely to double the current model’s screen resolution from 1024×768 pixels to 2048×1536.

This will dramatically improve clarity, but it won’t quite let Apple file it under ‘Retina Display’ territory.

The battery is likely to either be boosted or made thinner. MacRumours suggests that the battery will probably stay the same in terms of capacity, but shave some thickness off to make way for the bulkier, better display. The downside? Slimmer batteries are being estimated to cost Apple around 20 to 30 per cent more.

iPad 3 with quad-core powers?

The processor is likely to receive a boost up to quad-core standards. The general thinking says that Apple will unveil an ‘A6’ chip for the device which will then be used in the iPhone 5, mirroring last year’s turn of events.

The quad-core ARM A6 processor is believed to bring gaming prowess 20 times that of the iPad 2. Likely? We’re not sure. The processor will almost certainly be better, but that’s all we know.

iPad 3 design

We’ve had the usual raft of people claiming to have pictures of the iPad 3 case or shell or what have you. As mentioned, there’s a dirty rumour floating about that the iPad 3 will be about 1mm thicker than the iPad 2. If that’s true it’ll be to accommodate either a denser display or a larger battery. Or both.

Other than that, as explained by iLounge, you wouldn’t be able to tell it from the iPad 2 on first glance.

iPad 3 software

Apple normally launches some new apps or software with each iPad launch. Last year it shoved GarageBand into its tablety mouth, for example. This year we’ve already had a big software announcement: the debut of iBooks 2 with advanced iPad textbooks.

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So can we expect anything new? Probably, although we’re not sure what. One major problem dogging the iPad is the limitations with file management. Importing pictures to Keynote or Pages can be a right chore if you don’t have it already stored in your albums. We’d love to see Apple launch a fully-fledged file manager for the iPad 3.

iPad 3: 8-inch model?

This is where it gets interesting. Recent reports from the normally very accurate Wll Street Journal suggest that Apple’s been testing displays for an 8-inch iPad. That’s not a huge departure from the current 9.7-inch size, so why bother?

For one, it may be the case that a smaller display could have a resolution high enough to fall into the ‘Retina Display’ branding. Another angle is that Apple might be about to start selling the smaller device alongside the larger iPad to try and tempt people away from rivals like the Amazon Kindle Fire.

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Is it really likely, though? Apple has a history of saying “this is the optimum size for this device,” and sticking to that forever. That’s not to mention Apple CEO Tim Cook’s opinion on budget devices: “Price is rarely the most important thing. A cheap product might sell some units. Somebody gets it home and they feel great when they pay the money, but then they get it home and use it, and the joy is gone.”

That, to us, suggests that making a smaller, lesser-specced iPad to sell at a cheaper price goes against Apple’s basic principles. We’re willing to be proved wrong on that one, though.

iPad 3 launch and release

When’s this out, then? That’s the key question. The best info we have is that Apple will hold an event in ‘Early March’. No official invite’s been sent out to confirm this, but the current favourite is Wednesday 7th of March, based on an unconfirmed source.

If you know your Apple, you’ll know that it rarely announces a product without having it ready to ship soon thereafter. It’s normally a couple of weeks until newly announced Apple kit hits store shelves, so you can expect to be able to pick up an iPad 3 around mid-late March.

  • iPad Accessories

    The rising success of the cheap 7 inch tablets sucj as Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet makes this upcoming Apple event one of the most interesting and unpredictable in years. Will there be a cheaper iPad released as well, will the size remain the same, will the price remain the same? It will be an interesting event on March 7. 

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