In what surely has to be one of the final Apple-related rumors of 2012 – and there have been more than a few of them this year – the Cupertino company is reportedly just months away from unveiling yet another update to its full-sized 9.7-inch iPad. The claim comes from Macotakara, a Japanese website that has previously called it right with a number of Apple-related predictions.

Macotakara says that according to “an inside source” the fifth-generation iPad will be unveiled in March 2013, less than six months after the launch of the current version. The updated device will be 2mm thinner, 4mm shorter and 17mm narrower, a significant decrease that appears to suggest the side bezels of the next iPad will resemble those of its little brother, the iPad Mini.

With the third- and fourth-generation iPads actually thicker and heavier than the iPad 2, you can bet engineers at Apple have been looking at ways to shrink down the extra internal tech required to power the device’s high-resolution Retina display in order to get the tablet back down to size.

The website failed to note any under-the-hood changes we might see with the next version. The current iPad is powered by a 1.3GHz A6X dual core processor, a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera and 5-megapixel rear-facing camera, all of which could be improved upon the next time the product receives a refresh.

The expected March date makes a certain amount of sense, with the first three iterations of the iPad following a March/April release cycle. But could it really come so soon after the fourth-generation iPad, which launched just last month? In many ways it’s easy to see that Apple would want to move towards a more frequent release cycle, keen as it is to maintain its dominant position in the tablet market.

Macotakara’s report also says the tech giant is currently working on the next iteration of Apple’s smaller iPad, the Mini, expected to launch with a Retina display and faster A6X processor, which backs up other recent reports suggesting the same.

[via 9to5mac]