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Apple Announces March 7th Media Event for iPad 3, Tries to Steal MWC Spotlight — We Fight Back!

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Right on cue with recent reports from “insiders” and “people familiar with the matter”, Apple has gone ahead and sent out invitations to media outlets announcing a March 7th media event where the company will unveil the iPad 3.

Of course Apple had to announce it in the middle of one of the largest annual mobile tech trade shows, Mobile World Congres, which is going on right this very moment in Barcelona. Most major TV news outlets in the US are likely to be entirely unaware of the event, but I’m willing to bet there will be several mentions of Apple’s event announcement (read that again: you’ll see news covering an event announcement rather than a huge event in itself, just because the announcement is from Apple).

To honor the folks that, no doubt, spent a good deal of time and trouble preparing and reporting on all of happenings at MWC (from those who designed devices, to PR people, marketers, journalists, etc.), I’m going to open this post first with a list of all the exciting stuff we’ve seen so far from MWC. If you want coverage about Apple’s event announcement, it’s tucked neatly away at the end of this article.

Exciting Announcements from MWC!

And now on to your regularly scheduled content:

The high resolution iPad 3 retina display (2048×1536), that made the rounds a little more than a week ago, has all but been confirmed at this point; any iPad original or iPad 2 owner will be able to tell you that the text and icons as seen on the iPad shown in the invite is far sharper than that of any iPad released thus far.

Apple’s typical clever symbolism is also present in the invite photo; you can see the date on the calendar icon as March 7th, the location with the map icon is (as always) Apple’s famous 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino address (though the event is actually going to be at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts), and the Keynote icon is obviously a reference to the presentation that will be given. The time for the event is 10 AM PST (1PM EST) as usual.

We don’t know much more about the iPad 3 than the high-resolution display and that it will have a similar case to the iPad 2 (possibly slightly thicker). Some accounts say it will be running a new quad-core A6 CPU, while others contest that it will be an updated dual-core ‘A5X’. I speculated back in July of 2011 that the iPad 3 would be the first iPad to include 4G LTE and I’m still sticking with it. I also recently prepared a list of what Apple would need to include in the iPad 3 for me to justify adding a ‘third device’ to my life — I doubt we’ll see much of what’s on the list, but you never know!

If you’re looking for rampant speculation (always popular with Apple topics), let’s take the invitation text, “We have something you really have to see. And touch,” out on a ridiculous limb: Something we have to see? Well, we wouldn’t be able to tell if it is a glasses-free 3D display from a 2D photo, so perhaps that is in store in addition to the retina display? And something we have to touch? Maybe Apple has come up with some revolutionary tactile display technology that allows you to ‘feel’ on screen elements?

In all likelihood, this will be an incremental increase, without anything too wild, which will further solidify the leading tablet on the market.

Here’s What Apple Needs to Add to the iPad 3 for Me to Adopt a Third Device

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The iPad 3 is expected to be unveiled by Apple in the next few months. I decided to sit down and come up with a little wish list of the iPad 3. This might be somewhat different from other lists that you see out there because I don’t actually own an iPad. In fact, I don’t own any tablet at all.

When the original iPad launched, I picked one up, and although I could appreciate the device, I found that I wasn’t using it as much as I would like (here’s my review). It simply didn’t fit into my daily routine. If I was out and about, my iPhone was a better tool for quick access to information and a more convenient on-the-go media player. If I was at home, my computer was a more productive tool for web-work and browsing. There wasn’t room for a third-device in my life. So, I ended up getting rid of it, and I haven’t been compelled to buy a new tablet (whether it be Android and iOS) since, despite testing a number of them.

So what would it take for me to pick up an iPad 3? Here’s a wish list for improvements and features that might tempt me into adding a third device:

Obvious Stuff

  • Thinner
  • Lighter
  • Retina display (but not if it’s going to double the cost of the iPad 3)
  • Better cameras
  • Cheaper

Less Obvious

  • Faster – You might think this should go in the obvious section, but what I’m talking about here is relative speed. Despite being much larger, the iPad 2 is roughly as powerful as the iPhone 4S. Presumably the iPad 3 will be as powerful as the iPhone 5. I’m hoping for an iPad 3 that makes use of all the extra space and really gives me a significant boost in processing capability over the current-gen iPhone model. If they have to bring down the battery life from 10 hours to 8 to achieve this, that’s fine with me.
  • 4G LTE option – Again, this could fit someone’s definition of obvious, but the key here is the practicality of it. If this were a ‘wish list’ in the sense that I’m wishing for stuff that will never happen, then I may as well not bother. The question of 4G LTE in Apple devices one of battery life, competitive pressure, and coverage. Right now, 4G LTE radios drain batteries more rapidly than their 3G counterparts. In my opinion, this is why Apple has so far shied away from including 4G LTE in any of its products even while competitors have been doing so for quite some time. 4G LTE is also still in the rollout phase in the U.S.. As consumer demand and expectation of 4G LTE in products rises, 4G LTE radio efficiency continues to increase, and coverage as well. Apple is likely watching these three factors and will find the optimal intersection of them to launch 4G LTE in their products. Let’s also not forget that AT&T is now rolling out 4G LTE which means that two largest U.S. carriers now support the option. I do expect Apple to offer 4G LTE on the iPad 3, you can read more about that here.
  • NFC – Near Field Communications seems like one of those buzz-words that has been around for years but doesn’t actually mean anything. To the average consumer, it doesn’t mean anything at this point. I doubt most Nexus S owners know that their device even has the feature. However, if Apple was to release it’s next round of devices (including computers) with NFC hardware, it could really help the technology take off. Given the prevalence of iOS devices (here in the U.S.), NFC on all of them would be great for sharing photos and apps, transferring content back and forth from iPhone to iPad, and functioning as a digital wallet of sorts.
  • Wireless Charging – People have been talking about this one for years, and that’s probably because the idea is really awesome. I would love nothing more than to have a bedside table with an inductive top, upon which I could set down an iPad 3 and have it charge without having to run any cords. The iPad is a good fit as a sofa surfer or bedside companion — having an inductive charger on your coffee table or next to your bed would be convenient, and would make the iPad 3 stand out front competitors. This sort of feature is easy to ‘wow’ customers that come into an Apple store (because it’s so simple) and that makes it an easy sell if Apple wants to charge extra for a wireless charging station.
  • More Ports – Sometimes Apple seems to let its aesthetic sense get in the way of adding truly useful stuff to its products. I mean, you can buy an SD card adapter for the existing iPad, but why not build a slot right in? The iPad is one of the best devices for sharing photos with friends and family on the couch (way better than having people crowd around a computer screen), and being able to load photos onto the iPad 3 through an SD card slot (without the adapter!) would save you from buying the $30 adapter and having to remember to carry it with you! A USB port would open up a lot of possibilities as well.
  • LED notification light – Speaking of aesthetic sense getting in the way of features — I really wish Apple would man-up and add a notification LED to the iPad 3 (and the iPhone for that matter). Having to click the home button and glance at the screen every time you are checking for notifications is a bother. I shouldn’t have to check my iPad 3 for notifications, the iPad 3 should tell me with a little light! Almost all of Apple’s competing devices have such a light, and Apple could easily hide it in the bezel so it would be unseen until needed.
  • 7″ Model – Yes, I know it’s extremely unlikely that we’ll see a 7″ iPad 3, but it is possible (in the sense that it would be possible to fit the components into that form-factor). Though Steve Jobs railed against any tablets smaller than 10″, many pundits have expressed the desire for a 7″ iPad, and the 7″ Android tablet market is healthy. Our own Chippy swears by the 7″ form factor and in my own testing I’ve found it more versatile and relevant to my own work style than a 10″ tablet.
  • Built-in Stand – I always loved how Nokia included a built-in stand on their internet-tablet series of devices, and I’d love to see one on the iPad 3. This is unlikely for Apple given their extreme emphasis on aesthetics, but I know they could come up with a solution that is ‘sexy’ enough even to fit their standards. Their Smart Cover is clever, but I’d prefer something less intrusive and more rigid.
  • Non-aluminum Back – I’ve got a theory: Apple knows that aluminum scratches easily, and that’s exactly why they’ve used it on the back of many of their devices; an iPod Touch has a shiny mirror-like aluminum back when it’s brand new, after a year or two of good use, the back will be so scratched that it’s hardly a mirror any more. Even though the device still works just fine, the scuffed back makes the product feel like it’s old and outdated… wouldn’t a shiny new iPod Touch of the latest generation be a great solution to that problem? This is planned-aesthetic-obsolescence. So yeah, I that the back of the iPad 3 is not aluminum. When I owned the original iPad, I hated setting it down on a hard surface on its bare back because I knew it was prone to scratches (that’s one of the reasons I made the iPad Booksafe case). Even worse was when a friend would slide the iPad on its back across the table to get it closer to them. That scraping noise is the sound of nightmares when it’s coming from a > $499 gadget!
I could go on (coffee maker, fly swatter, teleporter, etc.), but I think I’ll be lucky if even one of the items on this list comes to be. The inclusion of any of them would make me more tempted to reevaluate the possible inclusion of a third device into my life. Maybe I’m just a hard sell. Sorry, Apple.
And for the rest of you, what’s on your iPad 3 wish list? Or are you like me and have no place for a third device in your life?

When Will Apple Jump on the 4G Bandwagon?

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4gWe’re not into Apple rumors here at Carrypad, but what we are into is informed speculation. Join us for some healthy analysis about when and how Apple will make the move to 4G.

Based on Apple’s Q3 sales figures that were just released today, it’s clear that Apple is doing extremely well, even without a single 4G product in its stables.

This is interesting because 4G is one of the only areas where the iPhone and iPad are behind, rather than being ahead of, or at least on-par with, the competition.

For all intents and purposes, let’s consider HSPA+, LTE, and WiMax all ‘4G’ networks, as they’re all capable of delivering speeds that are well beyond earlier 3G connections.

The Competition

Verizon has now launched three 4G (LTE) smartphones, and is poised to launch at least one more (the Droid Bionic) toward the end of this summer. They also have the 4G enabled Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, as well as the Motorola Xoom which is supposedly going to be the recipient of a 4G hardware upgrade at some point. Additionally, they’ve got a 4G MiFi wireless hotspot and 4G USB modem. [See this article for a roadmap of Verizon’s upcoming 4G smartphones and devices].

AT&T has three 4G (HSPA+) smartphones currently launched, along with a 4G USB modem.

Sprint has fourteen 4G (WiMax) devices available. They’ve got smartphones, tablets, laptops, mobile hotspots, and USB modems. Though WiMax technically has the capability to support 4G speeds, the research I’ve done has indicated that Sprint’s WiMax is sorely lacking in speed, but I’m still putting it on the list because the tech that supports high speeds is already in place in these devices.

T-Mobile has claims to have twelve 4G (HSPA+) devices. They have 7 smartphones, 2 tablets, 2 USB modems, and a mobile hotspot.

What Form Will Apple 4G Come In?

Because Apple currently makes iPhone 4 and iPad 2 models for both AT&T Verizon, it holds that we’ll continue to see those two carriers supported for upcoming tablets and smartphones from Apple.

For the short term, AT&T is relying on HSPA+ to provide 4G speeds to its line of HSPA+ equipped phones; the company often sticks ‘4G’ to the end of the phone’s name to indicate the additional speed (even if some don’t consider HSPA+ to be ‘4G’ from a technical standpoint). In the long term, AT&T is planning on moving in the LTE direction starting this year.

Verizon jumped directly to 4G in the form of LTE, and they seem to have the best 4G speeds so far.

With the two currently supported carriers either already using LTE or eventually moving to LTE, my best guess is that Apple’s first 4G devices will be LTE compatible rather than WiMax or HSPA+, though as you’ll see below, we might end up with a combination of these.

Why Doesn’t Apple Already Have 4G When Others Do?

The technology for Apple to launch their devices with 4G exists, but I believe two factors have held Apple back so far.

Coverage
It doesn’t make sense for Apple to fork over additional money for 4G chipsets if the coverage isn’t already there. If Apple launched a 4G (LTE) iPhone 4 when it announced the Verizon iPhone back in January, it wouldn’t have had a big demographic to sell to because a relatively small number of areas where covered at the time. Passing on the price of 4G hardware to all customers, when only a small portion are actually in 4G covered areas, wouldn’t be good for Apple’s bottom line. It made more sense for them to keep the price attractive until 4G LTE sees widespread coverage.

Battery Life
Battery life on existing 4G LTE devices is still much shorter than 3G devices. I’ve been using the HTC Thunderbolt and LG Revolution and both 4G equipped devices from Verizon have had a hard time providing me with usable all day battery life. Battery life is a major concern for Apple, and I know that they aren’t willing to release a device without all day battery life under typical use.

With every release of the iPhone, Apple has increased performance and battery life. Releasing a 4G iPhone before the technology can come down to a reasonable power consumption level wouldn’t be acceptable for Apple.

When Will it Happen?

The real question is not if, but when. Apple has been wildly successful with the iPhone and iPad, even though the market is already brimming with 4G devices, but that won’t last forever.

Ideally, Apple would launch a 4G iPhone and 4G iPad when the two above factors, coverage and battery life, align. Unfortunately, Apple is now being pressured by all of the other 4G devices on the market.

Verizon’s 4G LTE forecast indicates that they hope to have their entire 3G network area covered with 4G LTE coverage by 2013.

AT&T is launching its first 4G LTE coverage areas this year, but the rollout is going to take time, and they’ll most likely be lagging behind Verizon in 4G LTE coverage in 2013.

The iPhone 5 is expected to be released in 2011, and the iPad 3 likely won’t come until 2012. In terms of coverage, the time is not ideal for Apple to launch a 4G iPhone 5 or 4G iPad 3.

I think that Apple would rather wait for two more product generations before releasing 4G devices (so that power consumption can come down and coverage can increase), which would mean 4G LTE compatibility with the iPhone 6 and iPad 4, but I doubt that they can wait that long.

An interim HSPA+ iPhone 5 might be more practical for Apple, but it would leave Verizon users in the rain as Verizon has no HSPA+ infrastructure.

A compromise could be for Apple to release a 4G (LTE) iPhone 5 on Verizon and a 4G (HSPA+) iPhone 5 on AT&T. I would expect that release in 2011, but the iPad 3 will likely not be released until 2012. At that time, LTE network coverage should be more favorable for AT&T, and Apple may launch a 4G (LTE) iPad 3 for both networks, then eventually bring LTE to their AT&T iPhone offering with the release of the iPhone 6 in 2012. This is a bit confusing in text, so I’ve put together a timeline (apologies if the large timeline runs off the screen on mobile browsers!):

apple 4g timeline

Some might see the release of a separate HSPA+ and LTE iPhone 5 and iPad 3 as unlikely, but it should be considered as Apple currently has two separate versions of the iPhone 4 and iPad 2, one for AT&T’s HSPA 3G network, and one for Verizon’s EVDO 3G network.

Though the LTE coverage is not quite optimal for the upcoming iPhone 5, Apple can’t ignore 4G as it’s starting to be expected from the latest phones (and every major US carrier is pushing the buzz word like their life depends on it). I can’t see Apple releasing the iPhone 5 without 4G, whether that be HSPA+ or LTE.

I would certainly reconsider purchasing the next iPhone if they release it without some form of 4G. How about our readers – does 4G availability influence your smartphone purchasing decisions?

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