The D-day has finally arrived and after months of speculation, leaks and rumours going wild, Apple will be finally pulling the wraps off what will once again be taking the pedestal as ‘the’ tablet to beat. I don’t mean to sound like a fan boy or anything here, but we all know deep down that it is inevitable and if you can get past your hatred and loathing for the Cupertino company, then you know that I speak true. Over the course of several months, we’ve already built-up a rough idea in our heads as to what we can expect. The launch of the iPhone 4S has already filled in some of the missing pieces of the puzzle. Let’s wrap up some of the most talked about features of the iPad 3, or iPad HD or whatever Apple decides to call it and see what that means for you, the end user.
All will be revealed tomorrow
Retina Display anyone?
The Retina Display was a runaway success on the iPhone 4, not because it sounded cool, but because it offered a pixel per inch (ppi) count of over 320ppi at which, the human eye cannot distinguish between individual pixels, not matter how hard you try. This made everything appear super crisp and clear. The iPad has been rocking a relatively low resolution, since the first one launched and is overdue for an upgrade. According to rumours, the new screen will have the same 4:3 aspect ratio and will most likely be a 9.7-incher, but the resolution is said to be 2048 x 1536. While this is a definite upgrade from the current one, it isn’t exactly ‘Retina grade’ as the ppi level tops out at 264, a long way from 330ppi.
I guess close to Retina is good enough
The iPad can finally catch up with Android tablets, in terms of screen pixel density and if Apple’s invitation is any indication to go by, then the new display seems to be well worth the wait. We don’t have any further information on the display, other than that it should be an IPS screen made most probably by Sharp. This is one feature we are most excited to see and so should you. The iPad’s screen is still among the best in the biz, so bumping up the resolution will only make it better.
4G (LTE) Support
Word on the web is that the iPad HD will sport a 4G radio or LTE, along with the GSM and 3G radios. While this feature may be useful for those in the U.S, where Verizon and AT&T have 4G networks up and running and are most likely to carry the iPad HD on contract, for the rest of us, at least in India, it makes no difference at all. We are still coming to terms with the ridiculous rates we have to pay for 3G in India, so 4G is still a distant dream. The iPad 3 will join the elite list (for now) of tablets, like the Samsung Galaxy 7.7 to sport this new high-speed connection. Also, since the iPad will most likely not posses both CDMA and GSM radios in one, there will be different SKUs for different carriers and it’s just the GSM version that will make its way over to our shores.
Better battery life is a given
Better battery life
The iPad 2 is fitted with a Li-Po 6930mAh battery that does a swimmingly good job and if rumours are true, then its success is only going to double. The iPad 3 is said to have a 14,000mAh battery, but we shouldn’t expect double the battery life simply because, it has to power a higher resolution screen and a faster processor. A more realistic number would be somewhere around a 30 to 40 percent improvement in battery life.
The A5 chip served its purpose well in the iPad 2 and now sits happily in the iPhone 4S. Naturally for the iPad HD, we expect it to have the next iteration, which will be the A6 SoC. But will it be a more power efficient dual-core or will Apple put that on the backburner and go for a quad-core, instead? That’s the ongoing debate and till now there hasn’t been sufficient evidence to prove which one holds true. If the recent leak of the supposed iPad 3’s logic board is anything to go by, then we may not see the A6 in the iPad HD, but a spruced up version of the A5 called the A5X. The new tweaked SoC is supposed have a better graphics sub-system, which makes sense, since it has to handle the new, high resolution, while still maintaining the same level of fluidity, which we’ve come to expect from their products.
Could this be powering the iPad 3?
While this is a bit of a bummer (if it turns out to be true), it’s not the end of the world and one of the reasons Apple may have stuck with old SoC is probably because, it can still get the job done. One of the reasons Android devices manufacturers are constantly pushing the boundaries of processing power in phones and tablets is because they don’t have any control over what Google will bring out next. The only way to keep their product relevant for a longer period of time is to think ahead. That’s why, most of the specifications on the new phones are mostly overkill, but they are there because we don’t know the system requirements of Jelly Bean or any other version of Android that will come next.
Apple does not have to follow the herd, since they have total control over the hardware and software, so they already know what features are there in iOS 6 and what sort of hardware is required to run it. As long as I get the same experience and all my apps run well, I couldn’t care less, if it’s a dual or quad or even oct core for that matter.
5MP or higher camera
Not sure how many people realize this, but the iPad 2 has just a 0.7MP main camera, so clearly an update is in order. According to rumour mills, the iPad HD is said to borrow the same 8MP camera from the iPhone 4S and if you ask me, that makes no sense at all and if true, then it is a complete waste. Jumping directly from less than a megapixel to the 8MP doesn’t sound like Apple at all.
5MP or 8MP?
At most, we may see the 5MP snapper from the iPhone 4 return, which is still a very good camera and a major update from the current one. Also, since the current camera can do 720p video, it’s logical that the iPad 3 would be able to do Full HD video recording. We also hope the front camera gets an upgrade to 1.3MP or 2MP for better quality FaceTime videos.
Ahh, Siri. The electronic assistant we all love to hate. Ok, so we’ve had a go at Siri and to be honest, we weren’t too impressed with it, mostly because it doesn’t work with location-based services in India (yet), so all you're left with is some basic stuff. Also, if you have a heavy accent, you’re in deep trouble, as it won’t recognize your voice.
Siri, now on the iPad
Siri on the iPad would serve the same purpose as it did on the iPhone 4S, but it’s something I can do without as well. You’ll be getting all these features for the same price as the current iPad 2 and some stores abroad have already started offering discounts on the iPad 2, in order to pay room for the new arrivals.
Apple’s event will take place at 10.00AM PST (Pacific Time), on Wednesday, March 7th 2012 in Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. We’ll be bringing you the play by play, as the event unfolds. So, see you on the other side.