Apple testing 8-inch iPad, 4G LTE iPad 3 coming to Verizon, AT&T: report


If you thought we’d get through the pre-iPad 3 launch without the normal fury that builds before Apple releases a new product, you’re wrong. The Wall Street Journal — the tech world’s new go-to source for Apple rumors — has a pair of doozies today. First, WSJ reports that Apple is testing a smaller, 8-inch version of its iPad. Second, it says that the newest iPad, which is expected to debut the first week of March, will have 4G LTE connectivity.

Let’s take these one at a time. The first report, about the 8-inch iPad, should come as no surprise. It’s also fairly meaningless, at least for the moment. Apple tests new products all the time. Just because it does so doesn’t mean those products will find their way onto the shelf of your local Best Buy, soon or ever. That said, an 8-inch iPad is an excellent idea. The iPad and iPad 2 measure 9.7 inches, which is an nice screen size, but makes the device a bit cumbersome at times, especially if you’re using it for extended periods. An 8-inch tablet is, if you ask us, perfect.

Moreover, many market analysts think Apple needs to release a smaller, less expensive tablet that can compete with the likes of Samsung’s 7- and 8.9-inch Galaxy Tabs, and Amazon’s 7-inch Kindle Fire, which, at $200, has quickly become the most popular Android tablet on the market. Perhaps. But despite the iPad 2’s hefty price tag (the cheapest model starts at $500), Apple overwhelmingly dominates the tablet market. This could change, of course, but it’s not going to change anytime soon. So even if Apple is prepping an 8-inch iPad, it’s likely in no rush to bring it to market.

In short: We don’t expect Apple to release a smaller iPad next month, or even this year.

The second report is much more important, as far as these types of things go. WSJ reports that both Verizon and AT&T will carry a 4G LTE-enabled iPad 3. This also comes as no surprise, as we’ve been hearing that the next iPad will be LTE for some time. And because Verizon and AT&T are the only two wireless carriers that currently have widespread LTE networks, the report lines up nicely with reality.

In addition to LTE connectivity, we expect the next iPad to have a Retina display (similar to the iPhone 4/4S) with a 2048×1024 resolution (twice that of the iPad 2). The device will likely look nearly identical to the iPad 2, but include a much faster A6 processor, which may or may not be quad-core, as well as a more powerful graphics processor. Better cameras, both front and back, are also expected. And the iPad 3 will likely come loaded with iOS 5.1, the newest version.

Based on the most recent rumors, Apple is expected to debut its next tablet on March 7, at an event in San Francisco, and hit store soon after.