What’s the timetable and how do we know?
Apple has just announced a press event for March 7th, teasing journalists with the line “We have something you really have to see. And touch.” If this is the launch of the iPad 3, the device would likely be on sale within a few weeks.
Is this definitely a new iPad?
That’s the most likely explanation. It’s unlikely to be a new iPhone given the last model only came out a few months back. One other possibility could be a rumored new device that’s around the five to seven inch mark, though most analysts believe this would be a poor compromise between a smartphone and tablet.
What are the most likely changes in the new iPad?
One likelihood is a quad-core processor. That means a chip that can literally do four things instantaneously. This means the device will be able to do a much better job of carrying out demanding tasks without slowing down other features. For example, the iPad could use three of the cores to carry out video editing while still letting the user access the web. Quad-core would allow more intensive gaming and other tasks previously thought of as restricted to full-blown computers.
Another expected change is a screen with a 2048 x 1536 resolution, nearly double that of a full-HD screen. Taking account of the bigger screen size, this would be similar to the “retina” display on the latest iPhones. Apple uses this name with the argument that, at an ordinary viewing distance, such a resolution means the human eye can’t distinguish individual pixels, effectively making the image identical to reality.
What other new features could debut?
It’s thought the US model will support LTE, one of the new generation or 4G mobile data technologies. When it works to its full potential, 4G allows users to get the same speeds as home broadband from anywhere with a good mobile signal. Unfortunately LTE is still in the test stages in the UK.
The new iPad could also have a Near Field Communications chip, a technology similar to Bluetooth that only works over a few centimetres but connects almost instantly. It’s mainly used for contactless smartphone payments at the moment, but it could allow quick wireless syncing with compatible computers.
Less likely-sounding rumors include a 128GB model (double the current highest capacity) and a change to the Apple-specific charger and data socket.
How certain is all of this?
You can never be 100% certain about Apple rumours. The company loves to keep an air of mystery about its plans and techies tend to get caught up in their imagination and dreams when predicting what’s going to happen, the most embarrassing recent example being when the widely-hyped iPhone 5 turned out to simply be the slightly tweaked iPhone 4S. That said, there are a lot of credible sources, including in the South East Asia electrical engineering industry where large component orders by Apple often uncover its future plans.