Though Apple fans were surprised by the announcement of the iPad 4 during Apple's recent big event, one expert predicts the company will turn around and release a thinner, lighter iPad 5 in early 2013.
During the event, Apple announced a host of new products, including an iPad mini along with the fourth generation full-sized iPad. But according to Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst for KGI Securities, that might not be enough to fend off Microsoft's new Surface tablet.
Kuo wrote in a note to investors, reported by AppleInsider, that Apple may feel pressured to launch a 9.7-inch iPad 5 to cement its lead in the tablet business.
"Though the iPad mini is expected to be successful, we think launching the lighter, thinner 9.7-inch iPad as quickly as possible matters more for Apple strategically," Kuo wrote.
On Nov.19, Digitimes reported that the iPad 5 release date would be "around the middle of 2013."
The Surface surfaces
The Surface may challenge Apple's tablet dominance as Microsoft tries to move into the post-PC world.
Championing the new touch-friendly OS, Windows RT, the Surface boasts a 10.6-inch screen and is pretty light and thin. It can also be magnetically attached to a keyboard/cover for a more laptop feel.
Microsoft's Surface might just have the mojo needed to wrestle the tablet crown from the iPad. But according to Kuo, Apple is looking to hedge its bets.
iPad 5 features
Considering the iPad 4 is the same weight, thickness and price point as its predecessor, it's very possible Apple is looking to produce a slimmed-down version.
Apple did give the iPad 4 a new A6X processor system-on-a-chip, which claims to be twice as fast as the last iPad.
It also gained the new lightning connector and better LTE support. But that's all the new features iPad fans will get with the fourth-gen tablet.
Kuo expects Apple to pack "GF DITO" (or GF2) touchscreen technology into the speculative iPad 5. GF2 is already used in the new iPad mini, which helps to make it 23 percent thinner and 53 percent lighter than its bigger brother.
On 14 December, Macworld cited a report in Digitimes that claims that one way Apple will reduce the weight of the new iPad will be by using one LED light bar instead of the two that are found in the current iPad (and that were first introduced in the iPad 3). Macworld points out that this would also mean that the iPad 5 would consume less power and could therefore run on a smaller, thinner battery.