Apple is reportedly gearing up to unveil three different models of the iPad, including two brand-new offerings, on Jan. 26, according to new reports from supply chain sources speaking to DigiTimes on Thursday. There is plenty to like about the report, but I wouldn’t count on its coming true.
First there is that date: DigiTimes’ source says Apple will do the unveiling on Jan. 26 at iWorld, which is a new component of Macworld, an annual conference Apple pulled out of years ago in favor of hosting and managing its own media events. The January date is also early compared to what we have heard recently, which suggests a later date in February might be more likely.
Then there is the description of the separate models Apple intends to launch. The iPad 2 will remain on sale as an entry-level device, the report claims, while Apple will introduce two new iPads to compete at the mid- to high-end tablet price points. While I think Apple would do well to keep the iPad 2 around as a low-cost option and have said as much in the past, the DigiTimes report’s description of the other two versions of the device leave me skeptical.
Both would have 9.7-inch screens, with 2,048 x 1,536 resolution Retina Displays, lit by dual-LED light bars for better brightness. Quad-core A6 processors would replace the iPad’s dual-core A5 as the chip powering the next-gen tablets, according to the sources, and they would be outfitted with high-capacity batteries that could offer double the juice of the current version. The only difference between the two, according to the report? The high-end model will get an 8 megapixel CMOS image sensor, while the mid-tier version will get only a 5 megapixel.
The problem is that the camera on the iPad is more of an afterthought than a feature that will prompt users to pay an extra hundred or more dollars to upgrade to a higher-tiered device. On the current iPad, the rear camera captures still photos at less than a megapixel, which is fine, because if you are using your 10-inch tablet as a camera for anything other than the odd emergency situation or when making a video call, you are doing it wrong. Especially since most people with iPads are walking around with 5 to 8 megapixel shooters in their smartphones anyway.
A lot of the report does make sense: the iPad 2 as a low-cost option; better backlighting and a high-resolution display, as we have seen in previous reports; and improved battery life. But overall, it doesn’t hang together. Instead, it reads like a wish list combined with a flight of fancy about camera components. We will see new iPads early in the next year, but don’t get your hopes up for three arriving in January.