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iPad 3 Rumors: What We Know, Don't Know, and Think We Know

Matthew Shaer|Christian Science Monitor
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IPad 3 rumors increasingly suggest that the new Apple tablet will hit shelves in early 2012 – perhaps even as soon as February. The iPad 2, of course, with its dual-cameras and upgraded innards, represented a sizable leap forward from the original iPad. So what kind of improvements can we expect from the iPad 3?

A caveat: Apple's notorious secrecy makes such hypothesizing both fun and – in its own way – futile. Still, there's plenty of information out there, some of it probable, some of it doubtful, and some of it a little silly. Let's break it down.

As we noted yesterday, Citi analyst Richard Gardner recently penned a note to investors, forecasting the arrival of the new iPad. He predicted that the display on the new iPad will sport more than double the resolution of the previous model. "[T]here do not appear to be any significant technical hurdles remaining," Gardner wrote, according to Business Insider.

Also look for a new camera on the iPad 3 – par for the course for Apple, which regularly improves the quality and megapixel-count on its iPhone cameras. Plus, Eric Zeman points out today at Information Week, it's not like the lenses on the current model iPad are winning any rewards.

"Both cameras on the iPad 2 are horrible," Zeman writes. "Sure, they work for FaceTime and such, but the results are pitiful. While tablets are still unwieldy for taking pictures, most of the competition is fielding tablets with 3- and 5-megapixel cameras. I don't imagine I'll be using a tablet for most photo-taking needs, but having a decent one on board wouldn't hurt."

Meanwhile, the design of the iPad 3 could be a departure from the design of the iPad 2, which, after all, was a lot like the design of the original iPad.

"It is thought the next-generation iPad 3 will be thicker in design," writes the ZD Net team. "This could suggest a larger battery that would in turn make the device compatible to cope with additional 4G LTE technology. Rumors late last month surfaced that Japan’s largest cellular network would receive 'two new 4G LTE enabled devices,' further leading speculation that Apple has finally jumped on the next-generation wireless technology."

Lastly, don't wave goodbye to the iPad 2 just yet. Just as Apple has continued to sell its older model iPhones for a discounted price, plenty of analysts think that Apple will keep the iPad 2 on the market for a while longer, especially as cheap Android tablets continue to proliferate. (Did you see the $99 Android tablet?) "I expect the base iPad 2 will continue to be sold, after the iPad 3 launch, for $299 all through 2012. Call it the '3GS' effect," writes John Martellaro of Mac Observer.

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