It’s been quite a week for Apple leaks: First, confirmation that the big-screen Apple iTV is being tested and prepared for deployment — and now, if “sources” are to be believed, it appears that the iPad 3 will arrive in as little as three weeks. Apple will hold a special event in San Francisco in the first week of March, and the iPad 3 should be released a week after.
The same sources went on to add that the iPad 3 will indeed have the droolworthy 9.7-inch 2048×1536 Retina-class display — but unfortunately, that’s where the insider information dries up. What about the processor, RAM, and mobile radios?
There are two options as far as the SoC goes: Apple will either die shrink the A5 from 45nm to 28nm for increased battery life (important with the new, power-hungry display), or it will launch the A6. The A6 will likely be a 45nm (or 28nm) quad-core Cortex-A9 chip, or a 28nm dual-core Cortex-A15. There are hints that iOS 5.1, which should accompany the iPad 3 when it’s released, will support quad-core processors — but my bets are on a more power-efficient dual-core chip. iOS 5.1 should also bring some updates to Siri and a fix to the ongoing battery issues that some users are experiencing.
The GPU found in the current A5, the PowerVR SGX543MP2, is technically capable of pushing pixels to a 2048×1536 display, but in all likelihood the iPad 3 will have something newer and faster, the SGX554 perhaps. Bear in mind that 2048×1536 is a higher resolution than most desktop or laptop displays: Delivering games at a decent frame rate will be quite a challenge — and a battery-draining one at that. We can only speculate about the RAM, too; 512MB or 1GB are both possible. Likewise, the iPad 3′s cameras will probably receive an upgrade, but whether the backwards-facing unit will match up to the iPhone 4S remains to be seen.
And now the important bit: Battery life! Rumors point fairly strongly towards a larger battery in the iPad 3, both to make up for the larger screen (which will draw a lot more power than the 1024×768 display in the iPad 2) and the possible inclusion of 4G/LTE radios (though I think this is unlikely; LTE modems aren’t mature enough yet). The iPad 3 should have Bluetooth 4.0, too.
Finally, we should add that there’s one other nagging rumor that just won’t die: There’s an iPad Mini in the works. This is meant to be a 7-inch device that competes with the Kindle Fire, but this seems very unlikely while Apple is enjoying record-breaking revenues on the back of the iPhone 4S and 9.7-inch iPad 2.