Let’s be clear from the start, no-one writing in newspapers, online or anywhere other than on confidential internal Apple memos has any idea what the next iPad will contain. That doesn’t stop anyone (including me) from speculating in the hope that some of it might come true.
The current iPad is outstanding, the original iPad in fact is still a great device, and while the next generation might have some new features or improvements, it’s almost certain that all the apps and functions produced in the coming years will still work on your iPad 2. The only reason to wait is that in the next four weeks your authorised Apple resellers will likely start to run low on stock as it tries to clear space for the new model.
So, what will the new iPad be all about? Perhaps I will break it down into parts.
There is no doubt Apple will stick with the 10-inch size of the iPad. Any movement from this would be far too radical a change for the device in the market.
However, the recent rumours that Apple may be prototyping a smaller device are quite interesting. As reported elsewhere of course they would prototype different sizes but rarely out ‘in the wild’. Apple would be wise to bring out an ‘iPad Mini’ at this time – it would give them a broader market and possibly a wider price range too, allowing them to appeal to even more consumers. Apple has done this before of course with the iPods, creating nanos, shuffles, touch and more – so a product evolution of this kind is not out of the question.
If they did release a smaller version, they would have to include a display matching the resolution of the current iPad 2 to ensure compatability for the thousands of apps already in the App Store.
Key to the evolution of the iPad given its already tight form factor will be enhancements to the product as it stands. The main area this can happen is the screen by increasing screen resolution to a retina display as amazing as the iPhone. This is a logical step forward, however the cost of production will be the main hurdle for Apple. They need to ensure device improvements don’t drive the price up, so this is a tough one to get over the line.
That said, you have to look at all these possible changes and suggest this one is hot to trot.
Design is something you would think we’d get some indications on because of the number of third party case makers. However the ‘iPhone 5’ experience of last year shows that you simply can’t trust those rumours. Top of the list for the next iPad is actually to retain the basic design of the iPad 2, likely if the screen or other technology is enhanced it will be slightly thicker – but you won’t notice!
Apple has its own processor power in its devices now, and while quad-core is all the rage today, many of the quad-core phones aren’t even making good use of those cores, so it’s more likely that Apple will look at continuing its dual-core processors for this iteration of the device.
The iPad has an outstanding battery life – however if you change other features like screen or processor you will need something better. Question is can it pack more time into the battery? If so, will it offer that as extended life overall, or use it to off-set the improved features.
Will the next iPad support 4G? No. 4G is very new. In the USA coverage is rare and patchy, in Australia it is limited, and the technologies between the two are different. Might it support HSPA+ Dual Channel, maybe, but in reality, the next wireless advance will come to the iPad in 2013.
iPad 3? There is a big case to be made for the iPad 2S being released in March this year. We’ve seen Apple make evolutionary improvements to devices before (3G-3GS, 4-4S) and this third iPad might just be that evolution not revolution.
Number of Devices
Imagine Apple announce the iPad 2S. $499 US starting point. Now imagine (like it did with the latest iPhone) the iPad 2 remains available as an 8GB or 16GB only model at $399 or $450 US. Best case for Australians is that the iPad 2 is a $499 AUD product, and the new iPad (2S?) is $579. In terms of the tablet market, this would put immense pressure on the other players to drop their prices dramatically. Imagine again the addition of that smaller device, the iPad Mini at $399. That puts an iPad in every price bracket from $400 to $1000. Sounds like market dominance.
Ahh, the million dollar question. Early March is likely, first week even, with availability by end of March or early April at the latest.
So, there you go, almost 1000 words of pure speculation, to add to the billions of similar words online already.