According to a report by AllThingsD this morning, Apple will hold an event in San Francisco early in March to reveal the next iPad model.
Last year the iPad 2 was revealed in March at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and the original iPad announcement in January 2010 took place in the same venue, leading AllThingsD’s John Paczkowski to speculate that the 3rd generation iPad hardware may also be announced there.
The hardware specs and capabilities of the next generation iPad are not yet known, however a series of interesting leaks have shed some light on Apple’s plans.
Back in January, it was discovered that the unreleased iOS 5.1 beta contained references to a quad core processor, which would line up nicely with earlier rumors about the A6 processor being a quad core design. The A5 chip found in the iPhone 4S and iPad 2 is a dual core design.
Rumors have also been circulating for over a year that the next iPad would join the iPhone in sporting a Retina display, with conventional wisdom suggesting a 2048*1536 resolution (exactly double the iPad 2 screen) in order to make existing applications work seamlessly by doubling the size of each on screen pixel.
There are also questions about how much RAM the hardware will ship with, something Apple rarely even acknowledges in public. The iPad 1 shipped with 256mb ram, the iPad 2 has 512mb just like the iPhone 4/4S. Unless there are specific problems getting 768mb-1gb integrated into the chip package on the A6, expect to see a bump of that sort in the iPad 3 which will give the device and the applications running on it more headroom for things like OpenGL textures, rendered webpages and so on.
We do expect the iPad 3 to be a universal 3G device much like the iPhone 4S, with support for “world” coverage on the GSM + CDMA bands. What we don’t know yet is Apple’s plan for 4G/LTE support on the iPad, which may come after a potential 4G iPhone as late as March 2013.
And last but not least, the name of the device itself. We’ve been calling it the iPad 3 for quite some time now, but we’ve heard a few mentions of the name “iPad HD” and “iPad 2S”, with the latter appearing more likely than the former.
Since this is a major change in screen resolution moving to a Retina panel, the 2S name would seem unfitting, given Apple’s use of that particular naming scheme for devices that are simply faster than the previous generation. The iPhone 3GS was faster than the iPhone 3G but otherwise not very different. The iPhone 4S is faster and includes a handful of capabilities the iPhone 4 does not have, but it is not fundamentally different. However the jump from the iPhone 3GS to the iPhone 4 was significant, and we may see a similar jump with the iPad 3.