In a report on the next-generation iPad from February 9, the New York Times wrote that "[i]t’s unclear whether the product will be called the iPad 3."
Could it be that this iPad will be not the iPad 3, but the iPad 4G?
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that, "according to people familiar with the matter," the newest iPad will feature 4G LTE technology, enabling the tablet to connect to the faster networks on AT&T and Verizon.
The iPad 3 -- or whatever it's called -- is widely rumored to be announced on March 7th, according to a report from Rene Ritchie at Apple blog iMore. Reporters from The New York Times, The Next Web, and Wall Street Journal-owned All Things Digital have all pegged the first week of March as the timeframe in which Apple will unveil its new iPad.
Most rumors about the specifics of the next iPad have side-stepped 4G and have focused on the tablet's display: Apple is widely expected to be aiming for a so-called Retina Display, with a resolution so crisp that a user is unable to make out the individual pixels on the screen before him. Several reports have cited troubles on the supply chain in mass producing these displays, but Apple is still supposedly on track to include the Retina Display in its product launch next month.
Though many Apple pundits have suggested that the next iPad will feature 4G technology, the Journal's report is the most definitive and persuasive evidence yet that 2012's iPad will indeed be 4G compatible.
By wide margins, Apple makes both the most popular smartphone and the most popular tablet in the United States; neither the iPhone 4S nor the iPad 2 are 4G connective. The inclusion of 4G in Apple's popular slate computer would be a huge boon to both AT&T and Verizon: The battling mobile giants are the two largest carriers in the United States in terms of customers, and the two have been spending billions of dollars to bolster their 4G networks. Both companies have launched nationwide advertisements attempting to lure new customers with the high speeds of their new fourth-generation cellular networks -- all the while doing so without a 4G Apple product.
Indeed, for Apple, a 4G iPad would be the company's first device with the capability to hook up to a faster 4G network. Despite months of speculation that the "iPhone 5" would feature a 4G chipset, what Apple actually introduced in October 2011 (the iPhone 4S) was a 3G phone. When Apple introduced the iPhone 4 for Verizon in January 2011, then COO Tim Cook dismissed 4G for his company's devices at the time, saying that the thicker chip "would force design compromises we're not willing to make."
Verizon has since stated, in January 2012, that all of its smartphones will feature 4G LTE; this proclamation of 4G dedication, in addition to the WSJ's report of a 4G iPad arriving in March, have fueled speculation that the next iPhone (the iPhone 5? The iPhone 6?) will be the first 4G iPhone. As for "design compromises": The iPad 2 is actually a few millimeters thinner than the iPhone 4S, and rumors suggest that the iPad 3 will be a millimeter or two thicker than the iPad 2.
Apple declined to comment to HuffPost on the rumors, but Jordan Golson of MacRumors notes that, given Apple's history of "controlled leaks" to the press, this one appears legit. 4G technology may finally be heading to the iPad, and to Apple.
The WSJ also reported on another persistent Apple rumor Tuesday morning, claiming that Apple was testing a smaller 8-inch iPad to compete with Amazon's insurgent Kindle Fire. Head on over to the Journal to read more about the possibility of a smaller iPad.
For more Apple rumors, check out the latest in our This Week In Apple Rumors series here. Then, flick through the slideshow (below) to see 5 reasons why it's a terrible idea to buy an iPad 2 this month.
This past week, no less than four news outlets with super trustworthy sources -- The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal's All Things Digital blog, The Next Web, and Jim Dalrymple of The Loop -- independently confirmed that Apple would be holding an iPad event in San Francisco during the first week of March, with Apple blog iMore pinning March 7 as the date. John Paczkowski of All Things Digital was the first to report on the early March announcement; Paczkowski was also the first to correctly report that the iPhone 4S would be announced in October 2011, and that the event would be held on Oct. 4, 2011, with Tim Cook presenting. In other words, the man has strong sources inside Apple. Whoever is whispering in Paczkowski's ear is whispering the truth. Apple isn't commenting, as it doesn't "respond to rumors," but you better believe that the folks in Cupertino are all but putting the finishing touches on their iPad 3 event invitations. Those invitations, by the way, will probably read March 7, if you need an exact date for your iCal. Apple blog iMore got the scoop, with another confirmation by Dalrymple).
Once the iPad 3 (or iPad 2S, or whatever it's called) is unveiled, expect it to go on sale about a week or so afterward. Steve Jobs presented the iPad 2 to the world on March 2, 2011. It went on sale March 11, 2011. The first iPad took a little longer -- 3 1/2 weeks from announcement to availability -- but this delay was supposedly due to "production hiccups" in the supply chain. Though there have been similar reports of production troubles on this third-generation iPad -- namely, with the Retina display (What's that, you ask? Stay tuned. We'll find out in a moment!) -- Apple is generally not a company that announces a product with fanfare and then holds it from the market. It wants the excitement fresh in the minds of consumers when they go to buy their new devices. In short, the iPad 2's days as the newest -- and best -- Apple tablet are numbered into the low double-digits.
Though specific details, features and specs are always hard to come by before an announcement, Apple is pretty predictable when it comes to the price of its new products. Since 2008, the newest model iPhone has always cost $199 on contract (that's the iPhone 3G, the iPhone 3GS, the iPhone 4, and the iPhone 4S -- all marked improvements over their predecessors, all with the same price as their predecessor). The first iPad started at $499. The second iPad started at $499. The third iPad will probably start at $499, too -- perhaps less. The first iPhone had 4GB of storage and cost $499 on contract. The iPhone 3G bumped the storage to 8GB and cost $199 on contract. The iPhone 3GS bumped the storage again to 16GB for a $199 phone. Incremental increases in storage capacity along with incremental decreases in price marked the first three years of the iPhone -- could they also mark the first three years of iPad? Given the downward price pressure of the insurgent $199 Kindle Fire, it is not ridiculous to think that the iPad 3 might get a price cut.
This is not a matter of design taste. Based on reports from the supply chain, the iPad 3 seems as though it will look rather similar to the iPad 2 (with some reports claiming it will be a negligible amount thicker). If you are set on an iPad, then waiting three weeks will land you a superior tablet in terms of processor speed and screen resolution. Most expect the next iPad to feature an upgraded quad-core A6 processor (in English: Your iPad will do more things faster), as well as a Retina display, or a screen on which you won't be able to distinguish individual pixels no matter how closely you look.
We've heard rumors for months now that after the iPad 3 was released, the iPad 2 would stay on sale for a lower price, just as Apple does now with the iPhone 4S ($199 on contract), the iPhone 4 ($99) and the iPhone 3GS ($Free.99). This is just a rumor, of course -- though its persistence should at least cause you to put away your checkbook for a few weeks. Is a $500 iPad 2 right now really so much better than a $400 iPad 2 in mid-March? Waiting could save you some serious cash-money.
What all of these points add up to is this: Do NOT buy a new iPad until March 7, unless you really, really, REALLY can't wait. Your desire to buy an iPad should be threatening to burst your every organ for you to get an iPad in the month of February. In a few weeks time, you'll be rewarded with an iPad that is the same price, has better specs and a better screen, and will feature brand new technology rather than the 11-month-old stuff the iPad 2 is sporting. Don't make me do you like I did my pal Tiffany, crashing onto the comments section of your Facebook page like the Kool-Aid Man exploding through a brick wall. Save me (and yourself) the headache, re-holster your credit card for the rest of February, and wait for that inevitable March iPad upgrade to buy one.