The new iPad is now official with Retina Display, quad-core graphics, 4G LTE. iPad 2 will be cheaper

Well, the day has come. Apple has just announced the newest iPad, called… The new iPad. Seriously. After much speculation regarding whether it will be called iPad 3 or iPad HD, Apple surprised the world and decided to just call it iPad. Which means it will be referred to as the 3rd generation iPad (much like what happens with the iPod touch line). It’s up to you to decide whether you like it or not, but it looks like Apple has just ushered in the post-gadget-naming era. That of course comes after the company had previously brought us the post-PC era.

There are many new features in the new iPad, and most of the things that have been rumored over the past few months have made it to the actual product. Which is a clear indication that the rumor mill is getting more and more accurate with each year that goes by.

Let’s dive in. First off, it runs the new iOS 5.1, which is expected to become available over-the-air for owners of existing iDevices at some point later today.

The new iPad has the long-rumored 2048×1536 Retina Display, which, at 264 ppi isn’t as Retina as that in the iPhone 4 and 4S (standing at 326 ppi) – but it’s still more than on any other tablet ever. The screen size is the same 9.7-inch we’re all used to – after all it’s not like Apple to change something like that easily.

The processor is still a dual-core affair, but it comes with quad-core graphics. It’s called A5X. Apple claims that the graphics are 4 times faster than what’s inside an Nvidia Tegra 3, but doesn’t give any exact numbers.

There’s an improved 5 MP camera on the back which Apple’s calling iSight. It can record video in 1080p HD and apparently it’s quite similar to the camera in the iPhone 4S (save for the maximum resolution, of course). Stabilization is built-in too.

Siri strangely hasn’t made it into the new iPad, but there’s a surrogate – Voice Dictation. This adds a microphone key to the keyboard, and allows you to speak right into any input box. Kind of like Android, I’d say. It supports English, French, German, and Japanese.

The rumored LTE support is in there as well. The new iPad will have two LTE-enabled versions on the market, one for AT&T, and the other for Verizon. The LTE-capable new iPad will also make it to Canada via Telus, Rogers, and Bell. Apple claims a maximum theoretical download speed of 73 Mbps over LTE.

Of course, there will be HSPA (21 Mbps) and DC-HSPA (42 Mbps) support as well, with world-roaming bands built-in. The new iPad will come with a built-in mobile hotspot, if carriers allow it.

The new iPad is still rated by Apple at 10 hours of use, and 9 hours over 4G. Those numbers are virtually identical to the ones touted for the iPad 2 (but with 3G and not 4G connectivity), so it’s clear that the new iPad has a bigger battery than its predecessor. It needs to, with the 4G LTE, Retina Display, and faster graphics.

The new iPad is 9.4 mm thick and weighs 652 g (Wi-Fi-only) or 662 g (Wi-Fi+4G).

It will become available on March 16, which is next Friday. The countries and territories where it will be out on that date are the US, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Australia.

Prices have remained the same you have so far had to pay for the iPad 2. So the Wi-Fi-only versions are $499 (16 GB), $599 (32 GB), and $699 (64 GB). The 4G LTE versions borrow the pricing of the 3G iPad 2 – $629, $729, and $829, respectively, for 16, 32, or 64 GB of storage space. Obviously prices elsewhere across the world should be identical to those with which the iPad 2 was launched last year.

Confusingly, the iPad 2 will still be on sale. Confusing, because when comparing a product called just “iPad” with one called “iPad 2″ most people would probably assume that the latter is the newer and better model. Whereas in reality it’s the other way round.

The good news is that the 16 GB iPad 2 Wi-Fi will go for just $399. That’s $100 less than it has been selling for so far, and this move, which was rumored before, will help Apple fight competition from the Android space. The company is betting that when most people see that there’s an iPad selling for just $399, they’ll buy that and not a competitor’s offering. Some may even choose it over Amazon’s Kindle Fire, despite the $200 price difference. After all, that was $300 just yesterday.

Because the iPad 2 will still be on the market as a cheaper alternative to the new iPad, Apple has almost no reason to launch a smaller iPad, as has been speculated many times so far. At least not this year. If competition gets worse next year, then it may make sense then. Or they could just keep the iPad 2 around in 2013 as well, and cut its price further.

Apple was kind enough to also let us know that the number of apps in the iTunes App Store has reached 585,000. That still represents a healthy lead compared to the 450,000 apps which can be found in Google’s recently rebranded Play Store for Android. And Apple has 200,000 apps made specifically for iPads, whereas Android is severely lacking in the apps-for-tablets space.

Author: Vlad Bobleanta

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