How important is speed to the tablet experience? How important is real portability? Apple is rumored to be testing those questions with its iPad 3 launch in March. The newest iPad may blaze along on top speed 4G networks and perhaps tuck neatly into a handbag. “Even without the Fire, Apple would have done this eventually,” said tech analyst Zeus Kerravala.
The iPad 3 is rumored to have 2048-by-1536-pixel Retina display, a quad-core A6 processor and 4G LTE networking. The system-on-a-chip A6 would double the power of the iPad 2’s A5 dual-core processor.
A 4G iPad could make a big difference in performance. Add the A6 quad-core processor and the device turns into a speedboat.
“Both AT&T’s and Verizon’s LTE networks have shown that they are capable of some very high data speeds — speeds of 20 Mbps to 40 Mbps are not that unusual,” Allen Nogee, principal analyst for wireless technology at In-Stat, told MacNewsWorld. “These speeds are more than adequate for an iPad, a device that runs quite well on a 2- 4 Mbps WiFi home network. An iPad will run fine on LTE.”
However, the iPad’s move to the LTE network may not come without bumps, said Nogee. If nothing else, the 4G networks still lack full nationwide coverage.
“The bigger question, should this rumor be true, is how will all these new LTE devices affect the wireless operators, and will we see problems similar to when a new iPhone is released?” Nogee wondered.
Verizon, AT&T and MetroPCS are the only carriers that currently deliver LTE, but only Verizon and AT&T have high-speed LTE networks, and neither offers 4G coverage in all U.S. cities yet.
“MetroPCS is currently using a narrow-channel LTE system that doesn’t offer the high speeds of Verizon or AT&T,” said Nogee. Since AT&T and Verizon already offer the iPhone, it makes sense that they would offer any new iPad.
Sprint’s (NYSE: S) LTE network is in its very early stages, he noted.
Better iCloud Fit
Another reason 4G would make sense for the iPad 3 is the compatibility it offers for those using the iCloud. At 3G speeds, the iCloud is stormy weather.
“I think the 4G is the most important part of the iPad 3 launch,” Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, told MacNewsWorld. “With 3G speeds, using iCloud may not give you the best experience.”
Should the iPad Be Smaller?
Rumors of an 8-inch iPad are nothing new. A smaller form factor would help Apple counter Amazon’s popular Kindle Fire, and that may be the biggest reason it’s likely to turn up now.
“However, even without the Fire, Apple would have done this eventually,” said Kerravala.
When it comes to tech, one size definitely does not fit all, he noted. “The 8-inch form factor fits into suits and women’s bags. It can be an easier-to-carry business device.”
There may also be economic reasons to support an 8-inch iPad. “A smaller form-factor would be less expensive,” Nogee pointed out, “and easier for wireless operators to subsidize.”