It’s mid-February, when every true geek’s heart turns to rumors of the upcoming Apple iPad. Here’s Tuesday’s scoop: the iPad 3, set to launch next month, will run on AT&T and Verizon’s superfast 4G networks.
According to the Wall Street Journal, which cites the usual “people familiar with the matter,” the hotly anticipated tablet will be sold with 4G versions that are capable of picking up LTE signals from one of the nation’s two top carriers. Verizon and AT&T both currently sell 3G versions of the iPad 2 that are equipped to run on their networks.
LTE technology is hardly ubiquitous; it’ll take until the end of 2013 for 80% of the U.S. to be covered. But the report suggests the iPad 3 will revert to 3G signal when there’s no LTE available, which makes a lot of sense. (We also expect Apple will continue to sell cheaper Wi-Fi-only versions of the tablet.)
The other problem with LTE, known to just about anyone who has used a 4G smartphone, is that it’s a battery hog. We’ll be very curious to find out if Apple has figured a way to maintain the much-prized 10-hour battery life — fast becoming the industry standard for good tablets, not to mention smartphones — while still running LTE. If so, we expect a 4G iPhone — the iPhone 5, most likely — is not far off.
If anything, the news will be a boon to Verizon. The carrier may be playing catch-up to AT&T overall, but when it comes to LTE, they’re streets ahead. Some 200 million American consumers are in the Verizon LTE coverage zone, while AT&T only covers 74 million with the 4G technology. AT&T has been late to the LTE game, having made a bet on a rival 4G technology, HSPA+. But it’s catching up fast.
That may be way too many acronyms for one paragraph, so let us state it again more plainly: the iPad 3 is coming, likely within a month. The version that sells with pay-as-you-go Internet access should be much faster in most areas, especially if you buy it from Verizon. As for whether it will have a better battery life: stay tuned.
1. Minor Upgrades
iLounge recently reported that it saw a prototype of the next-generation iPad at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and that it looks just like the iPad 2, only thicker by about 1 mm. The camera in the top left corner is expected to be a bit larger than the iPad 2 and similar to the improved camera featured on the iPhone 4S.
It’s also been rumored that the next-generation iPad will have a high-resolution screen – possibly even double dpi -- and a stronger interior. However, the updates seen by iLounge seem to be more cosmetic than structural. Could the next-generation device be an upgrade similar to that of the iPhone 4 to the iPhone 4S?