While we know virtually everything about the iPad 2, the iPad 3 is still in rumor territory, so you should consider the things we’ll talk later on as non official. But considering that many of them come from Apple insiders, we might consider them at least as guidelines for understanding the actual features that the next slate will have.
While the first iPad was camera-less, the iPad 2 came with a HD camera that failed to impress critics and fans. Actually, people use the camera more in order to have material for experimenting with Apple’s suite of photo and video editors, that let you manipulate pics in pretty trippy ways. The iPad 3, however, is said to come with a camera that’s not only a home improvement tool, but an actual component of a multimedia environment, which Apple tries to constantly perfect with their apps, iTunes and more. Rumors claim that the iPad 3 will have a Flash camera, which will give users the chance to take better photos and videos, something most of them missed on the iPad 2.
Retina. Retina. Retina. Everyone is expecting Apple to finally put a hi res display on iPads and apparently the iPad 3 will be the first to pack one of these. The first two entries had a 1024 x 768 display, which was good enough to run tailored iOS apps, but HD playback and other HD apps were not truly, madly, deeply supported. The Retina Display, currently used on the iPhone 4, has a astonishing resolution of 2058 x 1536, which is almost double than what the competitors offer.
The iPad 2 runs on a in house A5 processor, which is built on the Cortex A9 standard. It’s a dual core processor currently better than the Tegra 2, and the third iPad might feature an even better chip, namely a quad core A6 processor with superior graphics- after all, there are 4 times the pixels to decode on the Retina Display, right? Alternatively, the iPad 3 might use the same processor as the iPad 2, as a recent report claimed that Apple couldn’t develop the new chip fast enough. The source claims that the A6 will be fully operational only in late 2012, which means it will be used on the iPad 4, in 2013, if such a device will ever be released.
Even so, the iPad 2 is a pretty fast and capable slate, and if the novelties in terms of UI and UX are awesome enough, you won’t really notice or care that the same SOC is on board. Also, the iPad 3 might come with a NFC chip (Near Field Communications), already used in the iPhone 4, which would allow to control data from nearby Apple computers from your tablet.
Apparently, the iPad 3 will run on iOS 5, with the current iPad 2 running on iOS 4. Also, if the iPad 3 will feature a quad core chip after all, Apple would offer OS X Lion as a mobile operating system as well.
While the iPad 2 has the familiar 16 to 64 GB storage standard, some are claiming the the iPad 3 might have a 128 GB version. Apple will want to offer the iPad 3 at a price similar to that of the iPad 2, and considering that Flash storage is cheaper by the day, more storage for the same buck is not an absurd supposition. Also, considering the influence Apple has in Asian supply and manufacturing chains, it’s not impossible to think that the company will get a great deal not available to other players in the tablet market.
Unlike the iPad 2, the iPad 3 might have an SD card slot. Currently, users have to use an adapter to read data from SD cards, an effort not really in tone with Apple’s zen approach to seamlessly moving data and connecting computers without too many intermediaries. Of course, USB is kind out of the question, and the iPad 3 will almost certainly feature a Thunderbolt port, which is a proprietary display/data transfer port you’ll be able to use in conjunction with other Apple machines. Already used on Apple laptops, the Thunderbolt offers great speeds and seems to be very reliable.
Other rumors claim that the iPad 3 will also feature a HDMI port. HDMI output is currently available on the iPad 2, but only via a rather expensive adapter. Having a HDMI/miniHDMI port directly on the tablet would be a very welcomed new feature.
Apple kept the same price range for their new tablets and there’s no reason to think this will change. Even if the new tablet will offer many new features, Apple will keep the asking price relatively low, as users will not upgrade immediately if they have to pay too much for it. In this case, the base iPad 3 will probably go for around 400 bucks, give or take, while top configurations, including maximum storage and 3G, will cost almost double. Another interesting rumor says that, unlike the first two iPads, the third might be offered subsidized by carriers if you’ll agree to a two year data plan.
These are the most common rumors flying around about the iPad 3 and most of them seem pretty safe things to say. After all, having a new tablet with a better processor, better screen and better connectivity is perfectly normal. Apple will probably offer these features if they want to stay ahead, but the true spice comes from those perks and features that might be too under the radar to be picked up by rumor posses. Even so, the perspective of a Retina Display screen and better camera is cozy enough to keep us dreaming until March of 2012.