updated 01:50 pm EST, Wed March 7, 2012
Upgraded with Retina Display, quad-core A5X chip
Apple today announced the third-generation iPad at an event in San Francisco. The device's main feature is a 2048x1536 Retina Display, twice the resolution of the iPad 2, rated at 264 pixels per inch; existing apps will be upscaled automatically. Color saturation is said to be 44 percent higher. The tablet also makes the switch to a new dual-core but quad graphics processor, the A5X, which Apple says is built with the Retina Display in mind. Interface-wise the tablet has been improved with features like voice dictation.
On the rear is a 5 megapixel camera with an illuminated sensor, a five-element lens, and an IR filter; an image processor is built into the A5X. Camera functions support autofocus and auto-exposure, as well as 1080p video recording. Video also benefits from software stabilization.
Cellular-equipped models now support LTE 4G, offering peak downloads up to 73Mbps. On 3G users should still be able to get up to 21Mbps on HSPA+ or 42Mbps on DC-HSDPA. The device will in fact be "world-ready" on 3G, supporting both HSPA and EVDO networks. Verizon, Rogers, Bell, Telus, and AT&T have been announced as initial North American LTE partners. Apple is promising 10 hours of battery life in regular use, and 9 hours on 4G; where supported, the new iPad will able to operate as a personal hotspot.
The tablet is 9.4mm thick, and slightly heavier than the iPad 2 at 1.4 pounds. Prices are unchanged, ranging from $499 for a 16GB Wi-Fi tablet to $829 for a 64GB 4G model. Launch regions will include the US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Switzerland, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan. Pre-orders start today, with a ship date of March 16th. 25 more countries will get the device on March 23rd.