Apple iPad 3 Coming in March?

Few product announcements are as heavily anticipated as Apple's upcoming iPad 3 reveal. So it's little wonder that the tech industry is hanging on every word written about the device and ogling over every leaked image.

However, recent reports indicate that the wait is growing shorter. According to post in AllThingsD, the company is planning a launch event during first week of March in San Francisco, with retail availability to likely follow within a week or two.

As with all gadget news from Cupertino, solid details about the device are hard to come by. Yet as the infamous case of the leaked iPhone 4 shows, even the tightest ship can spring a leak or two.

Dual-core or quad-core?

This is a pivotal year for the tablet market. Microsoft will be entering the picture with Windows 8. The Android platform continues to see upgrades and refinements, in both the software side and potent new components like high-resolution screens and multi-core processors.

Apple can ill-afford to stand still.

Currently, the consensus is wavering between dual- and quad-core version of Apple's ARM-derived A6 processor. Sentiment among some tech watchers is currently pulling toward a dual-core design, although Bloomberg remains in the quad-core, LTE camp.

Leaked pictures of the iPad 3's back casing do little to call it for either side. The images show a design that is visually similar to its predecessor at first glance. Closer inspection hints at a reconfigured logic board and a larger battery.

A bigger battery is practically a given. Whether the iPad 3 ships with a dual- or quad-core processor, it will certainly pack more processing power and graphical oomph. Add a new, 2048 x 1536 Retina-like display -- the current iPad sports a display 1024 x 768 -- better front and rear cameras and the expected inclusion of Apple's always-at-the-ready digital assistant Siri, and the need for a longer lasting battery becomes apparent.

But all this comes at a cost. Reportedly, the iPad 3 will also be slightly thicker than the outgoing model.

One form factor or two?

Another bone of contention is whether Apple will debut a more affordable, smaller version of the iPad to combat the Kindle and Nook.

While they lack some of the iPad's bells and whistles, Amazon's color Kindle and Barnes & Noble's Nook Tablet are more than simple e-readers. They occupy mini-tablet territory with multimedia capabilities and access to Android's app market. So it stands to reason that Apple would want some of that action.

To date, however, there has been an utter lack of information about a mini iPad. And given the tepid response to small tablets from Samsung and Dell, chances are slim that Apple will release hardware that slots between the iPhone and the iPad.

For now, at least.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of IT-related websites and as the Green IT curator for GigaOM Pro. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE


iPad, Apple