Apple is set to announce the iPad 3 on March 7th. With the announcement will come loads of new specs on Apple's latest tablet. As with every Apple device, the rumor mill is rolling ahead at full speed. Some of those rumors seem entirely possible, but with those come a lot of bunk to sort through.
Let's take a look at some of the loudest iPad 3 rumors we've been hearing, and separate the plausible from the silly.
1) The iPad 3 Will Have a Retina Display
It's been rumored for a while now that the iPad 3 will be equipped with a Retina display. The Retina display is the high-resolution screen found on the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S as well as the current generation iPod touch. The screen is so sharp that it's difficult for the human eye to distinguish individual pixels.
If rumors are accurate, the iPad 3 should have a resolution of 1536x2048, which is twice the resolution of the current model's 768x1026 within the same amount of screen space.
- Probability: Very likely.
2) The iPad 3 Will Feature 4G LTE Support
The iPad 3 is going to bring Apple into the world of 4G LTE. At least, that's what rumors have been saying. This will allow for faster data connections to carrier networks -- at least in the US, as it is unclear whether or not it will be supported in other territories.
The Wall Street Journal reported on this in February (and their sources tend to be pretty reliable) and iMore more recently reported that the iPad 3 will be LTE-enabled. iMore's rumor is worth noting, because they were the first to accurately report the date of the forthcoming iPad 3 event (i.e. March 7).
- Probability: Very likely given the sources, and necessary if Apple wants to remain competitive with rival tablets this year.
3) The iPad 3 Will Have a Higher Resolution Camera
There's no question about this. The iPad 2 camera is notoriously ... well, not so good. I've heard some rumors saying that it will feature the same 8MP camera sensor as the iPhone 4S. This would make for an amazing camera on the tablet. That said, I don't imagine many folks using a 10-inch tablet as a point-and-shoot, but I'm sure it has its place.
- Probability: Definitely happening. Though I do wonder if it will be iPhone 4S quality or slightly downgraded.
4) The iPad 3 Will Be Similar in Form-factor to the iPad 2, Perhaps Thicker
This is another reasonable rumor. It's said that the iPad 3 will be very similar to the iPad 2 in form factor. If anything, the tablet will be just a hair thicker. Some reports say it's about .81mm thicker (about 0.032 inches). In other words, most of us probably won't even notice.
This rumor isn't far from the truth, and the added thickness isn't significant enough to discourage any potential iPad 3 buyers.
- Probability: Likely. Again, any added thickness will go unnoticed by most users.
5) The iPad 3 Will Have an A5X Processor
This one came to be because some images leaked on the internet of what is supposedly an internal component of the iPad 3. The A5X would likely be a dual-core chip that is an upgrade from the A5, but not quite the boost many of us expected in the form of an A6 processor.
- Probability: Likely true. Sorry, no quad-core crunching for the iPad this time.
6) The iPad 3 Will Have Siri Support
This is possible, but I'm not as willing to bet on it as I am LTE and a Retina display. It makes sense given that Apple will likely want Siri on all their devices in the future as they continue to create a uniform environment across their operating systems. With the iPhone 4S, Siri was introduced, and is still in beta. Whether they are ready to roll her out on the iPad remains to be seen.
- Probability: More than likely yes, but I wouldn't put all my money on it.
7) Apple Will Introduce an iPad Mini
This rumor has been around ever since Apple released the original iPad. We've heard time and time again that Apple wants to release a 7-inch tablet. This rumor probably emerged because it's entirely plausible that Apple has been testing iPads of various sizes. Perhaps at some point they tested, or continue to test, smaller-form iPad models, but it doesn't necessarily mean they are going to release such a device.
Others believe that the smaller 'iPad mini' is likely. Apple now sees the potential in smaller tablet devices, now that (for instance) Amazon has entered the market with the $199 Kindle Fire. The iPad seems to be doing just fine without Apple having to worry much about the competition.
- Probability: If Apple announces such a device, I will let Larry Seltzer smack me across the face with an iPad mini on launch day.
[Editor: If I can't get an iPad Mini can I smack you with a Kindle Fire?]
8) The iPad 3 Will Get an $80 Price Hike
File another one under "not happening." Apple knows that the iPad's price has hit a sweet spot with consumers. There was speculation about this because some leaked image from a Chinese microblogging service said that the tablet would get a slight price boost.
The reasoning? The Retina display costs more.
My take? Apple waited a year for the Retina display rather than put it in the iPad 2, because they wanted to keep the iPad pricing at $500. Keeping the price down is more feasible now.
- Probability: Forget about it. It's not happening.
Apple's event is set to take place March 7th at their usual venue, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. It couldn't come any sooner. Not because we are anticipating Apple's next tablet, but because we want analysts to shut up about the iPad mini. That's reason enough to anticipate Wednesday's press event.