The iPad 2 is out, and the rumour factory has already moved on: it's predicting iPad 3 specifications including chips, cameras and retina displays - with a little bit of help from mysterious, unnamed people who can't possibly be identified.
How very convenient. So what's the word on the street about the next iPad?
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iPad 3 release date
Although numerous sources such asReutersreportedthat the new iPad 3 is due in the fourth quarter of 2011, the signs are it will be early in 2012. However, another rumour believes it could well be November.
However, during August, a rumour broke that Apple was set to delay the launch of the iPad 3, due to a shortage of retina displays from its suppliers LG and Samsung.
The exciting news is that it looks as though we will get our Retina Display iPad at last, with Apple reportedly testing suppliers' current shipments of 2048 x 1536 resolution 9.7-inch displays.
The iPad 3 UK release date is a mystery
With Apple unable to meet initial demand for iPad 2, we'd expect a staggered release date for the iPad 3 too: Apple will most likely follow the pattern it has with the previous two iPad launches and do it all in the new year.
The iPad 3 specs include a dual-core processor...
It's possible that the iPad 3 will have a brand spanking new processor, Apple's A6, but if the rumoured release date is correct then time is awfully tight: we'd certainly expect to see an A5, not an A6, in the iPhone 5 when it turns up.
Apple may well surprise us, of course, but we'd expect to see the same processor and graphics as the iPad 2 in the iPad 3: an A5 processor with PowerVR SGX543MP2 graphics. This one comes down to the iPad 3 release date: if it's 2011, expect an A5. If it's 2012, see below.
...unless iPad 3 has a quad-core processor
If the A6 is the next stage in the line - and we don't see a new iPad until 2012 - we could also be looking at a quad-core chip from Apple. Quad-core designs will be coming from all ARM partners late this year.
Speaking on 26 August, an analyst said that an A6 couldn't appear in a future iPad until later in 2012.
iPad 3 rumoured display and hardware specs
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. Could an iPad 3 Retina Display be on the way? It's the very first thing on our iPad 3 wish list.
Rumours of an HD screen on the iPad 3 gathered pace on 12 April 2011 when Digitimes reported that Apple is asking panel makers to provide screens that are capable of displaying higher image quality than the iPad 2.
Apple's very interested in Near Field Communications, and one particularly tasty rumour at Cult of Mac suggests that the iPhone 5 will use NFC to take over nearby Macs, enabling you to use your data and settings with a flick of the wrist. Since the iPad 3 will follow the iPhone 5, if NFC's in one it'll probably be in the other too.
The iPad 3 specifications will include more storage
The iPad 2 has the familiar 16/32/64GB storage options, but as flash storage comes down in price a 128GB option for the iPad 3 isn't impossible - although that might depend on the current horrible situation in Asia, where the tsunami has caused chaos in parts of the electronics industry.
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 iPad3,1 and an iPad 3,2.
The iPad 3 could be made by someone other than Foxconn
Apple was said to be in talks with another Far Eastern manufacturer as the release of the iPad 3 nears. Digitimes says that as there was a fire at usual supplier Foxconn in May, Quanta Computer and Pegatron Technology could benefit.
On 1 August it was reported that a contract had definitely gone to Pegatron rather than Foxconn.
The iPad 3 specs might include an SD card slot
This was widely predicted for iPad 2 and, like the retina display, didn't materialise. One for version 3, perhaps? Using a separate adapter to read camera cards is rather inelegant and clunky.
The iPad 3 specification should include a better camera
The rear-facing camera on the iPad 2 isn't brilliant: an iPhone 4 camera and flash would do nicely.
The iPad 3 could feature a carbon fibre case
Apple has hired a carbon fibre expert, senior composites engineer Kevin Kenney, fuelling speculation that the next iPad could be encased in the lightweight material.
The iPad 3 price might be higher than the iPad 2...
The iPad 2 didn't herald a price hike, but if the iPad 3's coming in September we don't think a massive iPad 2 price cut is very likely - which suggests that if the iPad 3 does appear then, it might be more of an iPad Pro - with a price to match.
...or maybe lower?
It has also been suggested that the pricing of the iPad 3 could be lower. As it's already cheaper than most other new tablets, we call trash on this one.
Could the iPad 3 actually be an iPad 2 Plus?
An analyst has suggested that we could see an iPad 2 Plus on our Christmas wishlists. The so-called iPad 2 Plus isn't set to be a radical departure from the current iPad 2, with supply chain sources tipping an improved display (250-300 ppi as opposed to the current 132 ppi).