Here's what the rumors say about when it's coming and what to expect.
When will the next-gen iPad arrive? The rumor mill has a few guesses.
Start placing your bets now.
According to widespread rumors and speculation, a new iPad 3 might come out next year, probably in March. The device will look a bit like something out of Star Trek with a screen that stretches from one end of the tablet to the other, almost like a see-through plate, according to rumors.
The Wall Street Journalreported back in August that component manufacturers in Asia—those who supply iPad parts such as the display and memory and processor chips—are already taking orders. An unnamed supplier told the WSJ that Apple has ordered 1.5 million parts for the new tablet.
Business Insider, on the other hand, reported more recently that Citi analyst Robert Gardner has said that Apple will release the new iPad 3 in February and has advised investors accordingly.
A new “retina” display, which matches the quality of the iPhone 4S in number of pixels on the screen at the same time, might run at 2048×1536 resolution, or roughly twice what you see on the current iPad, according to the report. At that resolution, movies and TV shows would look strikingly smooth.
Another widespread rumor is that the iPad 3 will come with a much higher resolution camera. The current iPad 2 snaps photos at just below one megapixel, producing blurry and almost unusable photos. The iPad 2 has two cameras, one on the front and one on the back. The front camera works better for video chats over the built-in Facetime app, but neither camera works well for still photos.
Speculation has run rampant over which processor will be used on the iPad 3. PC World suggests a new Apple processor called the A6 will power the next-gen tablet. The processor will improve battery life and game performance. The recently released Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime, which uses the NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor, raises the bar for graphics performance with better lighting effects for games, water reflections, and smoke effects that rival what you see on some video games.
The rumors about the next iPad haven’t hurt holiday sales for the current tablet, however. The LA Timesreports that sales might hit a high of almost 14 million units.
So, will the iPad 3 be worth the wait? The details are still sketchy, but the announcements about component manufacturers and accessories-makers getting ready for the release are usually trustworthy, as they were with the iPhone 4 and last two iPad releases. But as always with Apple, there’s no guarantee that it will offer the next iPad according to any set timetable.
Meanwhile, Google's Eric Schmidt offers another bit of news to feed the tablet rumor mill: "In the next six months, we plan to market a tablet of the highest quality," he reportedly told an Italian journalist. Android tablets haven't yet proven to be a serious contender to the iPad, but there's still time.