The announcement of the iPad 4 during Apple's October 2012 event came as a surprise to many, but one expert quickly predicted that the company would release a thinner, lighter iPad 5 in early 2013.
According to Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst for KGI Securities, the fourth generation full-sized iPad (and the iPad mini, which was launched at the same event) might not be enough to fend off competitors. Kuo cited Microsoft's Surface tablet as posing a particular risk to Apple''s dominance. Hey, don't laugh, Surface has grabbed 7.5 per cent of recent market share.
Shortly after the iPad 4 launch, 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.
That incorrect March release date was repeated by Brian White of Topeka Capital Markets on 12 January 2013 and by Gene Munster of investment bank Piper Jaffray on 15 February. White was citing supposed industry insiders at the CES expo in Las Vegas, while also writing in a note to investors that Apple is moving to a bi-annual iPad refresh schedule. Munster, as reported by AppleInsider, reckoned: "The history of time between Apple product launch events suggests that the company will introduce something new in March or April. Over the past two years, the spring event has been iPad updates."
Also citing an April release date, apparently knowledgeable sources revealed to iMore in March that the iPad 5 would be available in April. Given the date now, those sources might want to re-label themselves as "not at all knowledgeable".
Just to throw an extra release date into the mix, accessory manufacturer MiniSuit reckons the new iPad will be released in June. Gizmorati also reckons the iPad 5 will be shown off in June - specifically on June 29, six years to the day from the launch of the original iPhone. Citing an "inside source from Apple", Gizmorati claimed on 19 March that an event, called 'Original Passion, New Ideas', will see the launch not just of the new iPad but also of the iPhone 5S. However, given that June 29 is a Saturday, we're filing this particular rumor in the 'Probably Total BS' file.
So in summary, the iPad 5 will be released in either March (wrong!), April (wrong again!), June, September or October. Surely there are sources out there willing to bet on May and July?
The early release dates mentioned above could have slipped if you believe a Digitimes report of 7 March, which said 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 - was reportedly boosting its output to meet demand but Digitime's sources reckoned 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.
However, there's a vague sign that a new iPad may be waiting in the wings. When retailers start to cut prices that's sometimes because they're clearing out stock to make way for a newer model, and as Cult of Mac notes, in the US that's just what Wal-Mart, Best Buy and MacMall all did on Wednesday 3 April, reducing prices of the iPad 3 and iPad mini prices by about 30%. So are the April release date rumours correct after all? Er, probably not.
Back to rumour-magnet Digitimes. The Taiwanese site now reckons, as per a report of 9 April 2013, that iPad 5 production will not begin until the "July-August" period of this year, which will no doubt please those analysts who are predicting an autumn release.
iPad 5 features and specifications
Apple gave the iPad 4 a new A6X processor system-on-a-chip, which it claims to be twice as fast as the previous 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.
And 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.
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.
Another way that the new iPad may slim down is by reducing the size of the LED backlight. In an 11 April 2013 email to CNET, Paul Semenza, analyst at NPD DisplaySearch, wrote: "It's likely that part of the thinner/lighter design will be reducing the size of the LED backlight, partly by making the display more efficient and partly by using more efficient LEDs."
And on a 17 April, Ming-Chi Kuo wrote a new note, summarised by MacRumors. In his note, Kuo wrote that he expected the new iPad to be 15% thinner and 25% lighter than the iPad 4, that weight reduction coming in part from a battery which is "25-30% smaller" and "15-20% thinner".
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. The iPad case designs that subsequently leaked in February and April suggest that this claim could be correct.
iPad 5 display
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.
Those screens may make the move to a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio if Los Angeles industry analyst Paul Mueller is correct. "I have talked to at least three people close to Apple who say that there are new iPad prototypes that have a 16:9 aspect ratio," Mueller told The Examiner in September 2012. That change would ideal for watching movies but as it would make the iPad taller and narrower, holding it in portrait mode would be a little awkward.
But who will be producing the display for the new iPad? Not Samsung, reckons GottaBe Mobile, claiming that Apple is "actively moving away from Samsung for the next generation of mobile products." According to a rumour the site picked up from etnews, when Apple sent out a request to parts manufacturers for estimates, Samsung was not a recipient of the request. The same GottaBe Mobile report claims that Samsung is falling out of favour as manufacturer of the A7 processor, too.
Brian White, who incorrectly pegged the iPad 5 launch as March 2013 and who reckons that there will now be a new iPad every six months, also wrote in his January 2013 note to investors that the iPad 5 would feature an improved A6X processor.
Patently Apple lent weight to the notion of Apple taking its processor manufacturing business away from its best buddy Samsung, citing a report published on 10 April 2013. According to the report: the "chasm between Samsung Electronics and Apple is expected to widen further as Apple has excluded its Korean rival from a project to develop A7 application processors due to be released in the first half of next year."
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reckons that the Apple/Samsung partnership has some life left, though. As picked up by MacRumors on 17 April, Kuo wrote that the iPad 4 would be powered by an A7X processor and that Apple would be staying with Samsung for this chip at least.
Other iPad 5 features
It's possible that the new iPad will feature a vibrating mode for message alerts and haptic feedback (within games, for example). This news comes courtesy of Patently Apple, which reported on March 21 that Apple has applied for a patent for "an audio codec with vibrator support". Click the image on the left to view full size.
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.
What may or may not be actual Apple iPad 5 cases appeared online on 10 April. If genuine, these cases also show that the iPad 5 will have thinner bezels, as well as retaining the home button and front-facing camera. And as the case is white, we can assume that the white edition of the iPad isn't going anywhere.
On 16 April 2013, supposed iPad 5 cases appeared again, this time at the Hong Kong Electronics Fair. As posted on engadget, these third-party cases, apparently based on leaked specs, also suggest an upcoming iPad that'll be slimmer than the iPad 4 as well as featuring thinner, iPad mini-like left and right side bezels when in portrait mode.
Want to see the rear casing for the new iPad? Then you're in luck. On 22 April, accessory maker Tactus posted a photo to its blog, showing what it says is the rear shell for the iPad 5. It's not the most fascinating picture we've seen but it does suggest that the new tablet will retain the 9.7-inch screen size that was introduced with the original iPad. The blog post also claims that the iPad 5 will be 7.2mm thick, slimming down from the current-generation's 9.4mm.
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 accessories
The iPad 5 may launch with an official Apple gaming joypad if a report by Pocket Gamer is to be believed. According to the report, Apple held secret meetings with developers at GDC 2013, where it discussed the games that would support the controller at launch.
Should this device exist, it could also launch alongside the rumoured Apple iTV. As Pocket Gamer notes: "Given the opportunities a dedicated controller would provide in the living room, we'd expect it to be part of a large announcement also revealing Apple's wide TV strategy, including a direct assault on the console businesses of Sony and Microsoft."
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.