Though Apple fans were surprised by the announcement of the iPad 4 during Apple's October 2012 event, one expert soon predicted that the company would turn around and release a thinner, lighter iPad 5 in early 2013.
During the October 2012 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 15 February, as reported by AppleInsider, investment bank Piper Jaffray repeated the notion of a spring 2013 launch for the new iPad. "The history of time between Apple product launch events suggests that the company will introduce something new in March or April," said analyst Gene Munster, adding: "Over the past two years, the spring event has been iPad updates."
Just to throw an extra release date into the mix, accessory manufacturer MiniSuit reckons the new iPad will be released in June.
Want another possible release date for the new iPad? Apparently knowledgeable sources have revealed to iMore that the iPad 5 will be available in April.
So in summary, the iPad 5 will be released in either March, April, June, September or October. Surely there are sources out there willing to bet on May and July?
The early release dates mentioned above could now be in question if you believe a Digitimes report of 7 March, which says that there's a shortage of touch sensors for the iPad mini (the same sensors that are expected to be used in the next iPad). Japanese firm Nishha - Apple's main supplier of the sensors - is reportedly boosting its output to meet demand but Digitime's sources reckon the iPad mini 2 and iPad 5 could still be fighting over this component when they go into production, causing one of them to be delayed.
iPad 5 features and specifications
Considering the current iPad 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 it 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 got with the fourth-gen tablet.
Kuo expects Apple to pack "GF DITO" (or GF2) touchscreen technology into the speculative new 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 2012, 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.
iLounge's Jeremy Horwitz claimed in January 2013 that the iPad 5 has virtually no left or right bezels in portrait mode, with just enough space above and below the display for the home button, sensors and front camera.
iPad 5 case clues
It seems that case manufacturers believe that the iPad 5 will take its design cues from the iPad mini, being thinner than the current iPad, and with smaller side bezels, which fits with Horwitz's observations.
Accessory maker Minisuit supplied MacRumors with pictures of iPad 5 cases that it has created based on what it believes to be the correct iPad 5 dimensions. The cases are slightly smaller than the iPad 4 ones and feature a hole on the back for the supposedly relocated microphone.
And as we reported on 26 February 2013, another third party case manufacturer - this time Shenzhen Sinofly Electronic Company Limited - has also begun to produce iPad 5 cases with a form factor more in line with the iPad mini.
iPad 5 wireless charging?
A patent first filed by Apple in September 2011 that AppleInsider discovered on 14 March 2013 reveals that Apple is looking into equipping its iPad Smart Covers with induction coils so that you'll be able to charge your iPad simply by closing the cover.
The patent, called "Integrated inductive charging in protective cover," talks of "an inductive power transmitter arranged to wirelessly pass power to a corresponding inductive power receiver unit disposed within the tablet device."
There are two ways this technology could work. One is that the cover is charged from the mains and it transfers this power to your iPad. The other, as theorised by Mark Hattersley at MacWorld, is that the cover "takes power wirelessly from a plugged-in iPad and stores it in an internal battery. It then sends it wirelessly in the other direction when you use the device."
iPad 5 mockups
Federico Ciccarese of CiccareseDesign has produced some renders for MacRumors showing how the new iPad might look, with its smaller bezel allowing a shrunken case with the same screen size as the current iPad.
The mockups were based on leaked images of a supposed iPad 5 shell which were posted to 9to5Mac on 28 January 2013.