The iPad 3 is expected to build on the specs that debuted on the iPad 2. Photo: Jim Merithew/Wired.com
We know. You’re excited about the iPad 3. We are too. And so is just about everyone else who follows consumer tech hardware. Rumors about Apple’s upcoming tablet have been pouring in for months, and we’ve been following them just like everyone else.
But as the iPad 3 announcement day ticks closer — let’s just agree it’s Mar. 7 — the pace of rumor-mongering has increased. And there’s a curious element to the furious onslaught of “new” iPad 3 rumors: They’re all saying essentially the same thing.
The latest rumor, for example, is that the iPad 3 will have a 1080p rear-facing camera with image stabilization, a dual-core A5X processor, and Siri built in, according to Apple Insider, which picked up the story from a “Chinese microblogging site” called Apple.pro.
A 1080p camera? Check. A processor named A5? Check. Siri capability? Check. We’ve heard all this before. Let’s look at how these and other iPad 3 rumors first surfaced, and how they’ve evolved and been repackaged. You may be surprised by how much you haven’t learned.
Perhaps the most oft-repeated rumor concerns the iPad 3′s display. The basic scuttlebutt says Apple will include a super-high-resolution, Retina Display-quality screen.
The iPad 2 display compared to a purported iPad 3 display. Image: MacRumors
This rumor is about as tired as they come. It’s been rehashed in essentially the same form, plus or minus a few details, for about eight months.
We backtracked all the way to July 2011, and found that ThisIsMyNext, the progenitor of The Verge, was one of the first to report that Apple’s next iPad would sport a 2048×1536 display.
Now flash-foward to the first two months of 2012. Images of hardware reported to be the iPad 3′s display popped up on overseas sources like a Korean blog and a Japanese repair site. Both sites reported the screens were Retina Displays, but the claims weren’t substantiated. Then, last Friday, MacRumors says it got its hands on one of these far-eastern screens, and reported that its specimen features four times the pixels of the screen in the current iPad 2 — in other words, a 2048 x 1536 resolution across 9.7 diagonal inches.
So how many essentially identical — though completely untested — rumors do we need to read before concluding the iPad 3 will indeed include a Retina Display?
Don’t answer. That was a rhetorical question.
With an HD-quality Retina Display, it would make sense for Apple to increase the quality of its onboard camera to HD quality, too. And so the rumors commenced. Late last December, Digitimes began reporting the new iPad would sport an 8-megapixel camera along with rumors that Apple would be debuting two iPad models: a high-end tablet and a mid-range version.
On Feb. 8, a blog called RepairLabs showed off images of what it reported to be the iPad 3′s rear chassis. Based on the chassis construction, the website drew the conclusion that the new tablet’s camera will be different from what’s featured inside Apple’s current iteration, but stopped short of declaring the new camera an 8-megapixel model.
The last camera rumor occurred on Feb. 19. A Hong Kong-based site called Apple Daily reported it had possession of an iPad 3, and using side-by-side photos, compared it to an iPad 2. The key takeaway? The iPad 3 (or whatever it was) had a bigger rear camera lens, so the publication deemed it an 8-megapixel model.
Once again, photographic evidence solves a nagging question. Just one problem: No one reblogging this story could substantiate Apple Daily’s photographic evidence.
Consumers have been itching for a 4G iPad since before the iPad 2 debuted, so this rumor has popped over and over and over again, making an original “source” nigh on impossible to pinpoint.
However, BGR recently found evidence, supposedly straight from an iPad 3 running a debug tool, that the new tablet will be available with LTE. Then The Wall Street Journal, of all sources, corroborated these 4G iPad rumors on Feb. 14, reporting that Apple’s next tablet will be available on both AT&T and Verizon’s LTE networks.
The Form Factor
The iPad 3 looks like it will be slightly larger and thicker than the iPad 2. Image: M.I.C. Gadget
No site or pundit has posited the next iPad will feature a dramatically different shape. Instead, the rumor mill has been forced to report on the likelihood that the next iPad’s form factor will remain essentially unchanged — maybe a bit thicker, maybe a bit thinner.
Back in November, iLounge said that the iPad 3 would be “modestly thicker” than the iPad 2, contrary to many rumors that it would be a wee bit thinner than its predecessor. A Feb. 9 report from The New York Times then quoted an unnamed Apple employee as saying the iPad 3 will be “essentially the same size and shape as the iPad 2.” From the looks of photos floated today on a blog called M.I.C. Gadget, the Times story would appear to be true.
Yes, it’s come to that. The lack of significant change is now worthy of rumor and speculation.