Apple iPad 3 Rumours: Release date, price, specs & features

Updated: iPad 3 now confirmed thanks to iOS 5.1 code

Want the latest Apple iPad 3 rumours, release date, specs and features? Read on to find out what to expect from the iPad 3

The Apple iPad 2 is barely out of its pristinely white box, but rumours surronding the iPad 3 release date, specs, features and price continue to intensify which will no doubt already have tongues wagging on what the Cupertino company has in store for their next Apple tablet.

As the Android tablet army continues to swell, anticipation of how Apple will stay ahead of the game will be of interest to more than just the faithful fanboys. So, from the 'reliable sources' to interesting patents going up for FCC approval, we piece together how the iPad 3 could take shape.

In a twist of events that will surely ramp up and clarfiy a lot of the rumours, it would appear as though 9to5mac have actually found evidence that proves the iPad 3 release is not far off with it and a whole string of Apple products having been mentioned in the coding of iOS 5.1 beta.

Apple iPad 3: Design

The latest reports suggest the iPad 3 will be thicker than the iPad 2 at 0.7mm with the reasoning behind this being that to light the new HD display the iPad 3 needs larger light bars.

A whole new form factor has been suggested via components leaked online which are alleged to be from the iPad 3. Although an obscure and seemingly unimportant piece of tech innards at first glance, the reported iPad 3 component labelled the ‘821-1259-06’ has revealed Apple is to change the iPad’s design for the third-generation release whilst maintaining the white and black colour schemes.

Appearing to be a dock connector with attached ribbon cable, unlike the iPad and iPad 2 the iPad 3 component features a 90 degree turn as opposed to going straight on suggesting Apple is to reshuffle the device’s hardware features.

Said to be sourced from Apple’s “internal inventory” and leaked via web forum, a site responsible for leaking the latest iPod Nano prior to its formal arrival, the first iPad 3 component leak has offered an intriguing glance at what the future Apple tablet might have in store.

Apple iPad 3 specs: A6 processor

Reports have suggested Apple is to drop A5 manufacturer Samsung from the production of the A6 chip as the next-generation processor enters early testing stages.

The latest revelation in a longstanding battle between the brands, Apple is claimed to have ousted Samsung from its iDevice processor production duties as the iPhone 6 and iPad 3 A6 CPU is said to have begun being tested by TSMC.

“We know that the iPad 3 will be the first of their iOS devices to get the new processor, so we should expect confirmation of this [new manufacturer] in March 2011,” tech blog Product Reviews announced earlier this month.

Apple iPad 3 specs: Retina Display

We now have new information from an analyst which claims the iPad 3's Retina Display is in fact already in production with fully finished units ready by the end of the year prompting further speculation of an early 2012 release.

There are of course those that feel it may not follow in the footsteps of the iPhone 4 and iPod Touch as many perhaps hoped, but Digital Trends suggests the display qualities will still improve commenting that, “Apple is speculated to be considering using an AMOLED panel or Full HD resolution support for the coming tablet.”

But if you go by what Daring Fireball’s John Gruber says, a man renowned for his insider knowledge of the Cupertino company, the iPad 3 will tout a Retina Display.

In a blog post discussing how iPad magazines can improve and capture more users, Gruber said, “These magazines and newspapers that render each “page” as a static 1024 × 768 image are going to look like utter ass on the iPad 3’s 2048 × 1536 retina display.”

Gruber is well known for calling correct release dates and specs for almost every Apple product, suggesting he has some good information to be able to make such a claim

Apple iPad 3: Stylus

Apple CEO Steve Jobs famously dismissed tablets that don’t use solely touchscreen technology last year, saying: “If you see a stylus, they blew it”. But now it seems US-based Apple is coming around to the idea of bringing a dedicated pen to its iPhone and iPad devices, with the release of two new patents.

The first shows a heated electronic pen or 'stylus' - which could give better precision when used with iOS devices - that all pack capacitive touchscreens. Word is the heat will stop the end of the pen from wearing out, while the pen itself could possibly be docked in the iPhone or iPad to charge.

More interestingly, the second stylus wouldn’t work as a traditional virtual pen. Instead it will wirelessly communicate with the iPad or iPhone, allowing users to write information onto another source and have it instantly appear on their iOS device. The patents were filed back in January, prompting rumours it could be launched in conjunction with the Apple iPad 3 or future Apple tablet devices in the future.

Apple iPad 3: Thundebolt port

A USB port has been notably absent from the iPad and iPad 2, but with the introduction of Intel's Thunderbolt technology to the latest range of Apple MacBook Pro laptops, the fast peripheral input/output technology could be a more likely addition.

Thunderbolt which possesses a 10Gbps (or 1.25GBps) speed, and can support high-resolution displays, basically means you can transfer a full-length HD movie in about 30 seconds, and a year’s worth of 196kbps MP3s in around ten minutes.

Apple has worked closely with Intel on the development of the technology which is likely to be rolled out to other Apple devices, with future iPads a possible beneficiary.

Apple iPad 3: 3D display

It may not be on the top of the features list for most iPad users, but after French researchers found a way to create a 3D display without any other additional hardware, an iPad 3 3D model may not sound so ludicrous. Apple has yet to embrace the resurgent visual format, and as the video below suggests it may not be so far away as many think.

Check this video for how glasses-free 3D could look on the iPad 3

Apple iPad 3: iOS 5

When the iPad 3 rears its tablet-shaped head, we anticipate it will come packing iOS 5, the next key Apple software update which is set to launch in the autumn. While iOS 5 features were already announced at WWDC 2011 in June, it seems the developer build of the upcoming Apple iOS 5 has revealed more than Apple had bargained for (or did it?).

Hidden in the code are references to "iPad3,1" and "iPad3,2", the most explicit hints we've seen so far of the next Apple tablet. With these iPad-shaped nuggets of code appearing so early in iOS 5's life, could the rumours of an early iPad 3 launch actually have some weight?

MORE iOS 5 features: What you need to know

Apple iPad HD or iPad 2 Plus will launch instead of the iPad 3

If we don't see an iPad 3 this year, it may well be an updated version of the iPad 2 and sport the moniker Apple iPad 2 Plus as recent reports suggest. Apple is reportedly planning to unveil an improved iPad 2 Plus device later this year, alongside the eagerly awaited Apple iPhone 5 and the recently unveiled iOS 5 operating system.

"There are some indications from the supply chain that Apple may look to introduce an iPad 2 Plus device as they put out a request for quotes from various component suppliers for this marginally different device," FBR Capital Markets analyst Craig Berger announced.

These marginal differences are expected to extend to the device’s display with the Apple iPad 2’s 132 ppi screen believed to be heading for a 250 – 300 ppi upgrade. Another possible addition to an iPad 2 Plus release is increased storage sizes.

Alternatively, sources have revealed that we will actually see the Apple iPad HD which will sport a high definition 2048x1536 resolution panel.

Apple iPad 3 price

The 16GB Wi-Fi model of the iPad 2 was a suprisingly reasonable £399 with prices continuing up all the way to £659 for the 64GB Wi-Fi + 3G edition.

If an iPad 2 successor were to land before the end of the 2011, we imagine that the iPad 3 price will stick closely to the price range for the current model, which has so far proved successful if the speculate iPad 2 sales figures are anything to go by.

Apple iPad 3 release date

Whether it's going to be the iPad HD, iPad 2 Plus or the third generation Apple tablet, the last rumour of an iPad 3 UK release date pointed to a September 2011 launch. Unfortunately for Apple fans worldwide, this wasn't the case. And when the Siri-touting Apple iPhone 4S launched, our dreams of an iPhone 5 were also crushed.

Just weeks after the iPad 2 launched, industry blogger John Gruber of Daring Daring Fireball suggested that the iPad 3 will launch just six months after the second gen iPad. And we were left hanging.

There are of course others who have suggested that Apple will retain its February product cycle and we could expect to see an iPad 3 in February 2011.

What features would you most like to see on any third-generation iPad device? Let us know via the T3 Twitter and Facebook feeds.