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iPad 3 Expectations

The original iPad and iPad 2 were released on April 3 and March 11, respectively.  For the discernable future, iPads will be released in March and new iPhones will be released in October.

In the months leading up to a new product, there is "rumor season" which is the 3 months leading up to a announcement and "leak season" which starts 1 month before the announcement.  After announcement, Apple products are typically released 1-2 weeks later.  This means we are certainly in iPad 3 rumor season and approaching iPad 3 leak season.  

In rumor season we can expect reports based on hearsay and industry sources.  We usually don't get any hard evidence and there will be many conflicting reports and ridiculous claims such as an iPad 4 coming in October (ha!).  So far there has only been one credible rumor in my eyes.  It comes from who has a history of being slightly far fetched, but this one lines up perfectly with my expectations:

  1. A few next-gen iPad notes, ahead of the show. Both cameras are getting upgrades. Front goes HD, rear becomes iPhone 4/4S-like (bigger).
  2. Body of the next iPad is, as we previously reported, getting just a little thicker to accommodate new parts - little = 1mm give or take.
  3. Curve radiuses on the body will change only a little to accommodate the added thickness, not dramatically. Think iPad 2 Pro, not a redesign.
  4. Looks likely that iPad 2 will stick around at lower price point, say $399, and next iPad with high-def screen + cameras will sit atop it.
  5. Incidentally, our source believes that the next iPad’s rear camera will be the same as iPhone 4S’s, b/c camera hole is very similar.
  6. If Apple is in fact moving the front camera to FaceTime HD, calls from the next iPad to current Macs + vice-versa will look _much_ better.
  7. Source thinks date will be similar to iPad 2’s. Correctly says a January launch (never likely) would anger holiday 2011 iPad 2 recipients.

I agree with every point, except I'm not so sure the camera upgrade will be that much. 

In leak season we can expect small parts and components from the supply chain to start leaking which lets us put together a mental image of the iPad 3.  When we start to see multiple parts leaking (such as the display, buttons, back covers, etc) then we know we are getting close to announcement.  An even better indicator is the same part leaked through multiple web sites.  There has already been one credible leak so far which points towards a retina display (double the resolution of the current iPad 2 from 1024 x 768 to 2048 x 1536 pixels!).

 As you can see there are 3 brown ribbon cables leading from the screen itself to the circuit board. The small brown cable to the far left is the power cable, while the other two wide cables are for display data. This configuration matches with the top display in the leaked photo (though the power cable is missing). 

The claimed iPad 3 photo shows 3 wide ribbon cables that might be used for data. The iPad 3 is expected to carry a high resolution screen of 2048x1536 which is four times the number of pixels of the current iPad 2, so the need for additional data bandwidth would be understandable. 

At this point I expect a March release, A6 processor, retina display, and iPad 2-like form factor.