Apple is bringing LTE to tablets in its latest iPad, which the firm says will be available in select bands.
The device features a 2048x1536-pixel display, sports a dual-core A5X processor, a quad-core GPU, and is scheduled to launch in the US, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Switzerland, UK and the US Virgin Islands on March 16.
Contrary to widespread expectations that the device would be named either the iPad 3 or the iPad 2S, Apple is instead referring to the tablet simply as “the new iPad.” As with previous versions, it will be offered in Wi-Fi only, and Wi-Fi and cellular models.
Philip Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide marketing, claims the device “redefines the category Apple created less than two years ago.”
The technical specifications list two versions of the Wi-Fi and cellular models, one configured to use AT&T's LTE network on the 700-MHz and 2,100-MHz bands, the other to use Verizon's 700-MHz LTE network. Also variously supported are UMTS/HSPA/HSPA+/DC-HSPA+, GSM/EDGE and CDMA EV/DO Rev. A.
Notably absent from the list is TD-LTE, considering China Mobile's assertion that Apple has agreed to support TD-LTE once it develops a 4G iPhone.
That said, only the AT&T and Verizon Wi-Fi+4G versions of the device have been announced, so Apple may develop more preconfigured versions for other operators in the future. The tablet market is also a different beast to the smartphone segment, with many iPad buyers opting to buy a Wi-Fi only version.
However, the device is also missing a few features the rumor mill had been hotly anticipating. Although the device offers voice dictation, it will not come with the Siri personal assistant feature that debuted in the iPhone 4S. Apple is also introducing only an incremental iOS update with the device, iOS 5.1, rather than the completely new version some observers had been expecting.
Apple will retail the latest iPad for the same price as its predecessor, which in the US means $499 (€378) for a 16GB model, up to $699 for a 64GB. The models with cellular capability cost an extra $130.
The company has meanwhile lowered the cost of the iPad 2 by $100, with the base 1GB model now retailing for $399.
Ovum principal analyst Adam Leach expects the launch of the next iteration of the iPad to enable Apple to maintain its lead in the tablet market for at least the rest of the year.
“It is not the first time that Apple has enjoyed a first-mover advantage; however, we expect competition to get more intense through 2012,” he said, noting that Android 4.0 and the upcoming Windows 8 operating system could test Apple's market dominance.