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 Apple Insider, 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.
iPad 5 features
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, 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.
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.
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.