Revised Third-Gen iPads Could Be On Their Way Next Month, And Might Mean No iPad 4 in 2013



Over the course of the last few months, we’ve heard a lot of rumors that Apple intends on releasing an updated version of the third-generation iPad later in this year to improve the device in a number of ways: namely, to fit it with better efficiency Sharp IGZO panels and give it a new, smaller 9-pin Dock Connector.

Now a new report from research firm DisplaySearch claims that a new iPad is indeed scheduled to arrive alongside the iPad mini, which will be lighter and cooler. We’re starting to think this makes sense.

According to DisplaySearch, Apple has been keeping the supply chain busy in the later half of 2012 when it comes to LCD displays, with their plans to launch the iPhone 5 and a new iPad mini. But it’s their notice on the third-gen iPad that really caught our eye:

The new iPad leads the tablet PC market with its high resolution (9.7” QXGA with 200+ ppi) and high color saturation. However, Apple is working with the LCD supply chain to refresh the display, including revising the LED backlight design for cost reduction, refining the thermal solution, reducing the weight by replacing some components, and fine tuning the panel transmittance for lower power consumption.

The question really is why Apple would revise the new iPad halfway through the generation, but I’m starting to think making these changes now makes sense.

For one thing, because Apple is using inefficient displays compared to the Sharp IGZO display panels it wants to use, the new iPad is heavier and fatter than its predecessor. That’s because it needs a massive battery to power the screen… and a battery that big is expensive.

By revising the third-gen iPad design, Apple could save in component costs, maximizing profits on the device. It could also improve battery life and charging times, while shrinking the formfactor of the device.

Still, though, redesigning a product halfway through the generation leads to added costs. Is it really worth it for Apple then? Why not wait until next year’s iPad 4?

This is just my opinion, but I think it’s possible we won’t see a new iPad in March of next year. When Apple called the third-generation iPad the “new iPad” instead of the iPad 3, they were signaling that the iPad was to be treated more like a MacBook or iMac, and there wasn’t as much room for yearly upgrades, like the iPhone. iPad updates would be mostly incremental, not major events.

If that’s true, there’s no reason to hold back improvements over the current iPad for a big media event. The iPad, like the MacBook or the iMac, is largely a stable platform, and it’s not going to be updated every year like an iPhone. There’s no reason to hold small improvements back.

I’m not willing to bet there won’t be a major iPad event next March, but if there isn’t going to be one, a revised iPad 3 later this year seems like a no-brainer. Apple has nothing to lose.

Source: DisplaySearch

  • JohnWilson

    Right, Apple won’t release a new iPad next yr while their competitors are ramping up and releasing compelling tablets in multiple sizes. That doesn’t pass the smell test.

  • Whodakat

    Not a chance. What do they have to lose? How about all the customers that have bought the new iPad? Gee thanks for subsidizing this new improved version sorry you got the crappy one! And I’m no Kindle buyer but they have definitely kicked up the competition a notch. And they’ll have at least one more new model over the next 12 months, maybe more. No way they let the iPad stay stagnant for a year and a half. That would be one of the biggest corporate blunders of all time. Good bye market share.

  • joewaylo

    I disagree and think iPad 4 will still come. But they’ll fix their scheduling then. iPad 4 and iPad 4 mini at the same time in March.

  • Tkf530

    Nope! Apple will revise the new iPad when the “new new iPad” (iPad 4th gen) comes out.

  • Mystakill

    Even if Apple revs the internals, I can’t imagine that they’d also change the form-factor again so soon after the release of the iPad 3. That would perturb both customers and third-party accessory manufacturers, who would have to redesign and retool their production lines (although additional sales would likely eventually provide adequate compensation to offset that)

  • mr_bee

    I think the article makes a reasonable assumption (in regards no new iPad next summer), and that it’s actually *not* as ridiculous an idea as commenters are trying to make out.

    That being said, I also tend to disagree because Apple likes regular release schedules and assuming that there will be minor updates at random different times seems unlikely to me.

    They just spent considerable effort making sure that the new iPhones were introduced in the Fall and the new iPads are introduced in the Summer. It seems to me they will keep to that schedule.