Register for your free ZDNet membership or if you are already a member, sign in using your preferred method below.
With the new iPhone 5s and 5c handsets out, pundit attention has turned to another of Apple's flagship products, the iPad. What does Apple CEO Tim Cook have up his sleeve for us?
Rumors are circulating that Apple will unveil the new fifth-generation iPad at an event on October 22. But so far nothing – not even the date – has been confirmed by Apple. But the absence of any information from Apple doesn't mean that we can't make some educated guesses as to what the new iPad will bring.
The first mystery is the name. The new iPad? iPad 5? iPad 5x? iPad 5s?
Over the past few incarnations Apple has dropped the numeral from the name, but that makes it hard to differentiate the old new iPad from the new new iPad.
At the core of the flagship iPhone 5s is the 64-bit A7 processors which offers double the computational and graphics power of the A6 processors found in the iPhone 5. While the immediate benefits of a 64-bit processor aren't all that apparent yet, it is clear that Apple is paving the way for a switch to 64-bit, and I would fully expect this to be carried forward to the iPad 5. Some analysts believe that .
However, since Apple uses a variant of the processor found in the iPhone in the iPad, I expect that the chip – which could be called the A7X if previous naming patterns are followed – to be customized for tablet use.
(Image source: iFixit)
Apple currently offers the iPad 4 and the iPad mini in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB variants, with a high-capacity 128GB version of the iPad 4 also available. The bumps in storage from 16GB to 32GB and 32GB to 64GB costs Apple around $10, yet the company charges consumers $100 for the extra storage. This is a lucrative business model that squeezes more cash out of people who make the most use from their iPhones and iPads.
Will Apple give users a break and lift the base model from 16GB to 32GB? Given that it didn't do this with the iPhone, I doubt that we'll see it done for the iPad. It's just too lucrative for Apple to keep things the way they are, with iPads ranging from 16GB to 128GB, with a cheaper model – possibly called the iPad 5c perhaps – starting at 8GB.
(Image source: iFixit)
It makes perfect sense for Apple to integrate the new Touch ID fingerprint sensor built into iPhone 5s into the new iPad. Sure, this is , but it not only differentiates the new iPad from the competition, but it also differentiates it from the rest of the tablet ecosystem.
Having a quick and easy-to-use fingerprint reader differentiates the iPad from all other tablets on the market.
With the new iPhone Apple reshuffled the variants on offer. Before, Apple would introduce a new iPhone and then make the older version cheaper, thus making iPhones available at a multi-tier pricing structure. But this time around it changed this and released two iPhones – a flagship iPhone 5s and cheaper, colorful iPhone 5c that was based on the iPhone 5.
This could suggest that we end up with three different iPads:
Perhaps, but not by much.
The switch to the GF2 touchscreens used on the iPad mini might shave a fraction off the thickness of the iPad, but I'm not expecting anything drastic. Keeping the thickness the same (currently 9.4mm), as Apple did with the iPhone 5s, would help maintain backward compatibility with accessories.
The camera on the iPhone 5s has been significantly upgraded from the earlier version. The sensor is 15 percent bigger, with the pixels bumped up from 1 micron to 1.5 microns, the aperture has been increased to F2.2, both of which has improved the camera's low-light capability by 33 percent. The flash has also been upgraded to a True Tone dual LED flash that captures truer colors.
I would expect for Apple to use this camera on the new iPad.
The gold iPhone 5s seems to have been quite a hit, so I'd expect Apple to offer the same finish as part of the iPad 5 line.
While I don't think that anyone is going to be stratting an iPad to themselves and using it as a pedometer, the M7 motion coprocessor used in the iPhone 5s is supposed to improve the accuracy of the motion sensors, and so could be important for gaming. With this in mind I expect the new iPad to have this chip on the mainboard.
Rumor has it that the iPad mini's screen will be bumped up to a retina display, but this could put quite a pressure on the device's battery. Apple would need to make power savings in order to keep battery life at the current 10-hour mark.
I expect pricing to stay the same. Apple doesn't need to drop prices to compete with anyone, and I really don't expect a price bump, so I believe things will stay the same.