Apple's Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, Phil Schiller, speaks about the low start price for the new iPad during an Apple event in San Francisco, California March 7, 2012.
Credits: REUTERS/Robert Galbraith
"We are redefining the category that Apple created with the original iPad," said Apple CEO Tim Cook during the announcement event, held at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.
Available March 16, the tablet will run $519 for the 16 GB model - the same price as the current iPad 2 - and will boast a higher-resolution display, a faster processor, an improved rear camera and voice dictation capabilities.
A version of the new iPad that takes advantage of high-speed 4G wireless data networks will also be available, allowing users to download data faster in urban areas with LTE networks operated by Rogers, Telus and Bell. The new iPad 4G LTE models begin at $649 for the 16 GB model.
The third-generation iPad's screen will have a resolution of 2,048 by 1,536 pixels, versus the iPad 2's 1,024 by 768-pixel display, with Apple touting the advantages to photo, video and gaming applications. A handful of apps taking advantage of the new iPad's enhanced screen resolution will be available when the device launches, with others to follow in the coming weeks.
A new quad-core processor, dubbed A5X, will offer improved performance particularly in graphics-heavy applications, Apple said. The rear camera on the new iPad has been improved, matching the 5-megapixel camera found on Apple's iPhone 4S. The improved camera will allow for 1080p video recording on the new device.
Its on-screen virtual keyboard will now include a microphone button for voice dictation, a feature currently found on the iPhone 4S. However the new iPad will not include Siri, the iPhone 4S's voice-activated virtual assistant.
Physically, the new iPad is only slightly different from its predecessor, with an ever-so-slightly slimmer body and weighing about 50 grams more. Battery life will remain at 10 hours of normal use, Apple said.
When the new iPad hits stores on March 16 - along with the lineups that accompany the first day of sales of any new Apple gizmo - the current iPad 2 will be discounted by as much as $100, starting at $419 for the 16GB Wi-fi model.
Reaction to Apple's announcement of the new iPad was ranged from anticipation to indifference across the social Web. Some Apple fans seemed disappointed at the lack of surprises in the announcement, and many found the device's moniker - simply "new iPad" - a bit head-scratching. It's not immediately clear if Apple plans to abandon numbered product models in the iPad line entirely.
"This is the iPad they should have released last year," said Twitter user @GamerPops, while @MicaR tweeted: "An impressive feat of engineering. So is the Brooklyn Bridge. I wouldn't want one of those, either."
But others said the latest and most powerful version of Apple's so-called "magical and revolutionary" silicon slab will be a must-have. "Very excited! This will be our household's first tablet," tweeted @InternetPopular.
Apple also announced an updated version of the Apple TV set top box, available next week for $109. The new Apple TV will display 1080p resolution video, feature a revamped interface and allow users to stream high-definition movies from the iCloud storage service.
Some Apple devotees were hoping for an announcement related to the rumoured standalone Apple HDTV set that's expected to be revealed this year, but nothing was forthcoming. Although at the end of his presentation, Cook did tease that "there's a lot to look forward to" in 2012.
"We're just getting started."