End-of-the-year iPad 3 rumors: two versions, better battery, new display tech

by Phil Hornshaw

Wait, wait! There’s still roughly 36 hours left before it’s 2012 – we can definitely slip in one last iPad 3 rumor round-up.

The latest two rumors suggest Apple is working on upgraded components for the next version of its super-popular iPad, which is expected to show up on shelves next spring, in keeping with Apple’s yearly device refreshes. The new rumors come from DigiTimes, the Asian publication that gets its information from up-stream supply chain manufacturers that Apple uses to produce the parts for its devices. All of the sources are anonymous, as usual, so it’s impossible to tell if DigiTimes information will actually prove to be close to the truth or altogether hogwash.

The first rumor claims that Apple is working on a better battery life for the next iPad, which would increase its charge capacity from the currently used 6,500 milliampere-hour to 14,000mAH. DigiTimes cites “industry sources” for the lead, but states that Apple’s battery manufacturers, Symplo Tech and Dynapack, refused to comment about their client Apple or its devices.

This one might have some truth behind it. When it comes to Apple’s mobile devices, the company will often sacrifice power or cutting-edge hardware if building those things into its devices would cut too deeply into battery life. Apple prides itself on its devices being useful for a long time, so if the Cupertino tech giant is doing things to the iPad like adding a high-definition Retina display, as we’ve heard over and over, it might need a stronger battery to keep the device going.

DigiTimes’ sources also told the publication that we should expect two versions of the iPad 3 when it’s released in 2012: a high-end version and a mid-range version. It’s the high-end version that will be seeing the bigger, better battery.

And speaking of displays, we have one more rumor to throw down. Another DigiTimes report claims that Apple might be going with a new kind of display for next year’s tablet. The rumor says Apple is switching from IPS, or in-plane switching, display panels it uses currently on the iPad 2 to indium gallium zinc oxide flat panels. Those new panels will reportedly be produced by Sharp, and are necessary to get the iPad 3 up to true HD levels, according to DigiTimes’ sources.

This one makes some sense, too. As GigaOM points out, we’ve heard before that Apple wants to get a high-definition Retina display into its next iPad. As was speculated by Jeffries analyst Peter Misek, using IGZO displays would allow Apple to get up to a resolution of 330 pixels-per-inch. That’s slightly better than the iPhone 4’s 326 ppi, which Apple calls its “Retina” display. It might not hurt also that Sharp is reportedly the manufacturer providing the displays, and not Samsung, with whom Apple is currently embroiled in tons of patent disputes.

DigiTimes has been wrong before (plenty of times), but its rumors do sometimes provide insights into what’s going on with the technical side of Apple’s mobile operations. Some of these rumors make some degree of sense, but of course, we’ll be well into 2012 before we find out for sure. Still, it’s fun to try to guess what the next iPad will be like months before it’s out. Happy New Year!