After a long hiatus, we’re back in time to report on the next generation iPad which is soon to be unveiled in less than 12 hours. No we won’t be there live – we’re too underground for that. Instead we’ll ramble on about what’s to be, and add some speculation to boot. Rather than give you a run down on the rumours, which frankly is boring, I’m going to try and bring reason to the table and make my assumptions on exactly what the new iPad will bring. In short, not a lot. Yes it will see a jump in performance, yes the device will be desirable, but this isn’t going to be as earth shattering going from the iPad 1 to the 2.
The rumours going around have been more than rubbish, and the reporters shy as a cold scrot. Many blogs are saying “we believe” or “we think” the new iPad will have a retina-esque display. I don’t know why they don’t have the guts to just say “it will” because really the higher resolution display is a given. The one thing you can be really sure about is the screen resolution bump. There has been leak after leak regarding the double res display, people have actually gotten hold of the part from Chinese vendors, it’s the next logical step, the current res makes my eyes bleed, it just seems highly unlikely it will not see this feature, because it’s the whole reason for the jump.
Other rumours are more on the side of ridiculous. For example, that we’ll see the iPad 3 possibly with a A6 quad-core processor. People, this isn’t happening. The leaked pics are enough to sway you on this, but take this as further evidence – doesn’t the new system on a chip, titled the A5X, sound more like an increment than a serious upgrade to you? I believe the CPU power will stay largely the same, with the GPU being bumped to ridiculous levels to cope with those pixels breeding. This is of course a new system on a chip, which history dictates the iPad always brings with it, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that CPU cores have to be doubled each time. The smaller increment in the chip’s name seems to cement this upgrade as a pure increment. Another core or two (or three) at this point in time isn’t really necessary. We’ll likely see an increase in clock speed on each core, but I believe this round will be the first time that cores don’t double. This will be saved for the A6, a chip which may have the unveiling baton passed on to the next iPhone to keep the surprises going.
Many would argue that the A5X being the best system on a chip for only 6 months is a bad business decision that Apple couldn’t and wouldn’t support, but remember that the Apple TV successor will also be released tomorrow. The rumour mill suggests this device will also share the A5X chip which will finally afford the media box enough graphical power to output the 1080p everyone deserved back when the last version was released (which spat in our face and only brought 720p to the table). Because the iPad 3 will have a similar resolution to what the new Apple TV outputs, it is very, very likely they’ll share the same chip. It’s just common sense.
The additional argument for this is that unlike the first iPad which was relatively underpowered for the resolution it was pushing, the iPad 2 is still very, very capable – it’s still smooth, doesn’t stutter on anything, and is showing no signs of struggle with the current offering of apps (unlike the iPad 1 at end-of-life, which was starting to struggle). With this in mind, it is very well known that the iPad 2 will still be here even after the next iPad is released, and that’s because Apple knows the device is still more than good enough to support what’s out there, and what’s coming. We know very well the iPad 2 will remain on sale because the iPad 2 is not out of stock anywhere and is still being sold, making it all very likely that it will still be around. It’s very uncommon for an end-of-life Apple device to still be readily available on the eve of its successor. To keep the app gap closer, sticking with two cores will allow both devices to remain available concurrently, and run 99% of the same software with similar performance.
Lastly, the iPad 3 will actually be named the iPad HD. Why? Because although the res is being bumped, and the camera is getting better (to complement the higher res screen), mostly everything else will largely be similar, including the device’s appearance. For such an incremental shift, this may not warrant a fully fledged increment in version. It’s likely it will be HD because it makes the most sense – the screen is close to the limits of HD resolution. And besides, the iPad 2 can be sold at its side and not feel inferior because of the number difference, and iPad 2S just sounds stoopid.
To summarise the next iPad will:
- break normal naming convention and be called iPad HD (what the hell)
- have that retina display (duh)
- have a home button still (the rumour that said it wouldn’t have one was the stupidest so far)
- have the iPhone 4S camera (taking 1mp shots and 720p video and showing them on a close-to 1080p screen would suck).
- only be dual core (not quad – the system on a chip is an incremented number, so it sways more that way folks)
- be 0.8mm thicker