The Apple iPad 2 has been out since early 2011, so it's nearly time to say hello to iPad 3.
The web is teeming with rumours about the new iPad 3 processor, cameras and display, so we've gathered together as many details as we can on its possible specifications.
Of course, some of these can be taken with a pinch of salt, but there's definite patterns occuring and we'd say the final iPad 3 release won't be that far removed from many of these rumours
So what's the word on the street about the next iPad?
Apple iPad 3 release date
On 1 July 2011, Digitimes reported that Taiwanese-based component suppliers were gearing up for production of the iPad 3. This was followed in October by a suggestion that production would begin before the end of the year.
Digitimes reported in late November 2011 that panel makers had already started shipping panels for the new iPad 3 - a million in October and two million in November.
Foxconn, Apple's major manufacturing partner, is said to have started production of the iPad 3 in January. 2012. A source at one of Apple's partners also told Bloomberg that the company began production of the iPad 3 in January, with a view to reaching full volumes in February.
Digitimes says the new model is expected to meet the heady heights of 9.5 to 9.8 million units over the course of Q1 2012.
The iPad 3 release date looks set for Spring 2012, with Citi analyst Richard Gardner even predicting it could be as early as February.
However, we'd expect the iPad 3 announcement to be in February, with the iPad 3 US release date in early March and the iPad 3 UK release date in late March.
The Apple iPad 3 will have a quad-core processor
It's probable that the iPad 3 will have a brand spanking new processor, Apple's A6 - which will surely be a quad-core ARM-based processor. Quad-core designs are coming from various ARM partners and the Tegra 3 has already been launched by Nvidia, as well as the Snapdragon S4 from Qualcomm.
According to the Korea Times in November 2011, the A6 processors are to be manufactured by Samsung, despite the companies' ongoing patent battles.
Apple iPad 3 display
A retina display was widely predicted for the iPad 2, but of course the current iPad doesn't have a double-resolution display: for now, that's something you'll only get in the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S. Could an iPad 3 Retina Display be on the way? It's the very first thing on our iPad 3 wish list.
However, according to the Wall Street Journal in late November 2011, Sharp will manufacture panels for the device. Apparently Apple is investing in infrastructure at Sharp's LCD plant. Further rumours said that Apple is looking to implement some nifty dual LED lightbar technology into the iPad 3, apparently in a bid to counter-balance the brightness issue that the Apple tablet may have, due to its super-high pixel density.
A part leak in early December again pointed to a Sharp-manufactured 2048x1536 retina display and dual lightbar.
iPAD 2:We wanted a retina screen, but didn't get it- what about for iPad 3?
There may be an iPad 3 LTE version
Persistent rumours suggest LTE support will be provided for the US. Great for the US, though it will leave the UK behind as there's no 4G connectivity as yet. Cnet.com believes that the new iPad may feature a Qualcomm 4G LTE Gobi 4000 chip.
The iPad 3 will usher in iOS 5.1
Alongside the much anticipated iPad 3, Macotakara sources seem convinced we'll see iOS 5.1 come out of beta in March too.
Will the iPad 3 have a smaller dock connector?
Parts previewed on some websites indicate that, although the iPad 3 will still have a 30 pin dock connector, the packaging is streamlined. Well, if this is true, we knew it would happen sooner or later.
The iPad 3 specifications will include more storage
The iPad 2 has the familiar 16/32/64GB storage options. A 128GB option for the iPad 3 isn't impossible - although that might depend on the situation in Asia, where natural disasters caused chaos in parts of the electronics industry last year.
The iPad 3 features could include a Thunderbolt port
Two generations of USB-free iPads suggest that Apple just isn't interested in adding one, but the new Thunderbolt port found in the 2011 MacBook Pro and MacBook Air could be another story: it's a combined accessory/display connector with astonishingly fast performance.
There could be more than one iPad 3
TUAW says the iOS 5 code features new code files for USB devices in the iOS 5 firmware, Through this, TUAW found references to an iPad 3,1 and an iPad 3,2. Is this latter variant the LTE version?