iPad 3: Everything we know

Features Richard Goodwin 15:15, 2 Feb 2012

We detail everything we know so far about Apple’s iPad 3, which is expected to get a release date in March of this year

The first quarter of any new year always features the following things: CES 2012, MWC 2012, iPhone rumours and, at least for the last couple of years, iPad launches. Q1 of 2012, as you’d expect, was no different. CES 2012 has been and gone, we’ve already heard plenty of iPhone 5 rumours, MWC 2012 is just around the corner and an iPad 3 launch looks all set for March.

Picking up where the iPad 2 left off, Apple’s third-generation slate is expected to introduce some new hardware in the form of a 9.7-inch Retina Display, an A6 CPU and, no doubt, an overhauled imagining setup - at least, that’s what we’d expect. During the past six months or so quite a bit of information regarding the iPad 3 has leaked through to the press, although pictures or the device, we admit, have been pretty thin on the ground.

Yet despite this lack of image-based intel about the iPad 3, we’ve still got a pretty good idea about what to expect - at least in terms of generic specs and hardware, anyway. No doubt there’ll be a few surprises announced during the keynote. But besides these we think we’ve got a pretty good idea about what Apple’s iPad 3 will entail.

Design & Display
We can’t see Apple messing around with the iPad 3’s form factor that much, if we’re honest. It’s a distinctive product and while there’s scope for change, such as making it smaller, larger, thinner or wider, the general modus operandi will no doubt remain the same. What else could you do to a tablet’s form factor, short of adding a handle or a whistle?

One distinction that does keep rearing its head, however, is that the iPad 3 will be thicker than the iPad 2. The reason for this is the iPad 3’s alleged Retina Display, which will be double the iPad 2’s display resolution at 2048x1536 pixels. But how solid are these reports? Is it time to start getting excited about iPhone 4S-like visuals on a 9.7-inch display?

In a note to investors, Citi analyst Richard Gardner said: ‘There do not appear to be any significant technical hurdles remaining.’

Speaking with CNET, Richard Shim, an analyst at DisplaySearch, said: ‘It's happening--QXGA, 2048x1536. Panel production has started [for the next-generation iPad].’ Shim also confirmed that Apple is using three companies - Samsung, Sharp and LG - to product the Retina Displays.

Apple’s iPad 3 Retina Display will be based on Apple’s long-preferred IPS panels and not, as previously reported, Samsung’s AMOLED setups.

Shim added: ‘I would imagine there would be concerns about [adequate] supply given the resolution of the display but you've got three different suppliers at this point. They should have enough to launch the product.’

What’s in a name? Quite a bit as it goes. Just look at the kerfuffle Apple caused when it launched the iPhone 4S instead of the iPhone 5. But could Tim Cook’s crew do it again with the iPad 3? According to reports, it could, as some believe the iPad 3 will in fact be called the iPad 2S when it’s officially launched.

According to a report on 9to5 Mac, ‘Case producer “Chinee” of China has begun selling cases for a device that it calls the “iPad 2S". The name obviously stems from the name iPhone 4S, where the S notes an internal technical specification update rather than a re-design.’

Personally, we think this one smells like bull-something. That said, you never know. Case makers have been known to get it bang on the money in the past - last year’s iPhone 5 debacle being a notable exception to the rule.

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