The new iPad: Rumor vs. reality

CNET breaks down what turned out to be true and what didn't from some of the most high-profile rumors ahead of today's iPad debut.

Tim Cook announcing the new iPad today.
Tim Cook announcing the new iPad today. Donald Bell/CNET

Another Apple product launch is in the bag, and now is a good chance to take a look back at how some of the biggest rumors leading up to today actually panned out.

In case you missed it, Apple this morning announced a new, third-generation iPad, a follow-up to the iPad 2. The company also introduced an upgraded version of the Apple TV set-top box and an iPad version of its iPhoto software. You can watch how the whole event shook out right here, or catch CNET's trusty recap here .

Below are some of the big claims that circulated leading up to the event, and how they stacked up against today's actual news:

No really, it's "the new iPad."
No really, it's "the new iPad." Apple

The name
It's long been the expectation that Apple's next iPad would fall in line with its existing numbering scheme, but that started looking a little murky as early as last year. A report from The Verge last July offered up that Apple would instead be offering up a "higher-end" device called the "iPad HD," a device that would sit alongside existing models. A report in The New York Times' Bits blog last month weighed in, offering only that it might not be called the iPad 3. More recently, a source told CNET (and separately VentureBeat) that the device would be called the iPad HD .

Outcome: Apple went in a completely different direction, calling it simply "the new" and "the third-generation" iPad.

An alleged iPad 3 retina display.
An alleged iPad 3 Retina Display. MacRumors

Retina Display
Easily one of the most high-profile and reoccuring rumors ahead of today's event was that the next iPad would feature a display with more pixels than previous models. The big number to look for was 2048x1536 pixels, or four times the number of pixels as present in the first- and second-generation iPads.

This particular rumor was, in fact, not new at all. Prior to the iPad 2's introduction, rumors circulated that Apple was planning to add a Retina Display to the tablet. Those reports were later updated to suggest that Apple was saving it for the third generation of the device.

This time around, the rumor was considerably easier to believe, given that companies such as Samsung subsidiary Nouvoyance publicly demonstrated that Retina Display-like screens were on the verge of going mass-market in mid-2011. An alleged iPad display also cropped up in mid-February with matching, higher-pixel density, when put under a microscope .

Outcome: The new screen is, in fact, 2048x1536. Apple has dubbed it a Retina Display, despite the fact that it comes in at a considerably lower pixel density than that of the iPhone 4/4S and iPod Touch, arguing that people are holding it 15-inches away from their face, versus 10-inches for the smaller devices.

An "A5X" chip that popped up a few weeks ago.
An "A5X" chip that popped up a few weeks ago. WeiPhone

Quad-core processor
The beginning of the quad-core rumor stemmed from a Bloomberg report in January saying the next iPad would also include 4G LTE . 9to5Mac weighed in, saying iOS 5.1, which was a developer beta at the time, had signs that Apple was working on special processing tools for devices with more cores. Early last month, a follow-up from Boy Genius Report posted alleged debugging code from a new iPad with four cores, but it was far from conclusive.

Things have gotten muddled since then, with more recent reports suggesting that the chip would have two cores instead. That includes a leaked photo of a supposed dual-core "A5X" chip last month (see above right), a name reaffirmed in a separate report from The Verge just yesterday.

Outcome: The A5X chip that comes on the new iPad is, in fact, a dual-core chip. Its graphics, however, are quad-core, making this rumor a bit of a split. The big thing is the leaked A5X processor, which turned out to be legit.

4G LTE
Speedier 4G LTE networking was expected ahead the last iPad, but that obviously did not happen. This time around, the idea seemed a bit more plausible, with bigger 4G footprints from carriers and more developed chipsets in mobile devices.

One of the earliest indications that the next iPad would get the faster networking technology came last November, with the release of a new 4G chip from Qualcomm, maker of the networking chips in the iPad 2. Bloomberg followed up a few months later with a report saying Apple was planning to support LTE networks , something The Wall Street Journal echoed in a separate report last month.

Outcome: The new iPad does pack 4G LTE connectivity. In the United States, it'll connect with Verizon Wireless and AT&T's networks. Apple has made specific versions for each carrier, since their 4G LTE bands are different.

Better cameras
One thing worth saying right up front is that Apple has never released a new, camera-enabled iOS device without making improvements to the camera module. Case in point: Apple has done that with all five iterations of the iPhone.

The iPad 2's rear camera.
The iPad 2's rear camera. Apple

The iPad 2 added two cameras, one on the front and one on the back, but neither sported quality close to the ones Apple ships on the iPhone. A report out of iLounge in early January claimed that Apple was adding considerably improved cameras in the next iPad, including a front-facing camera that worked with Apple's FaceTime in high-definition quality, and one on the back that was similar in quality to what Apple uses on its mobile phones. Rear casing that leaked out last month strengthened that argument, with a slightly larger hole for the camera , suggesting that a larger module would be coming to the newer version.

Outcome: The new iPad comes with a 5-megapixel camera, with considerably improved imaging than the one embedded in the iPad 2. The front-facing camera remains at VGA quality for use with Apple's FaceTime chat service.

iPad 2 sticking around?
When the iPad 2 came out, the first-generation device went on the chopping block. Prices were cut, and spare units were sold off. But prior to today's iPad debut, there were rumors of Apple keeping the iPad 2 around. The company currently does the same thing with the iPhone, selling the iPhone 4 and 3GS alongside the iPhone 4S, albeit at lower prices.

A report from DigiTimes in January claimed as much , saying Apple would continue to offer the iPad 2, dropping prices for some of the entry units to as low as $299 to better compete with lower-price tablets nipping at the iPad's heels. More recently (last week), DigiTimes made another such claim, saying Apple was prepping a special 8GB version of the iPad 2 to sell alongside the new iPad.

Outcome: This is half-true. Apple is keeping the iPad 2 around, but only the 16GB model, which it is respectively offering at $399 for the Wi-Fi-only model and $529 for the one with 3G.

Bigger price tag
In what was perhaps one of the most thinly sourced rumors to come ahead of the new iPad's unveiling was a price list that cropped up last week on Chinese microblogging service Sena Weibo. It hinted that the newer versions of the tablet would come in at $70 to $80 more than their predecessors.

A follow-up report from 9to5Mac last week rebuffed the report , listing allegedly leaked part numbers of the new gadgets, saying the devices would come in the same capacities and at the same prices as the iPad 2.

Outcome: The iPad keeps the same price tag at the same capacities as before.

The dock plug for iPhone, iPad, and iPods.
The dock plug for iPhone, iPad, and iPods. Josh Lowensohn/CNET

New dock port
Apple has kept its dock port pretty much unchanged during the life span of iOS devices, dating back to some of the first iPods. But rumor has had it that Apple has been working to shrink the size of its dock to make more room inside its devices.

A report from Japanese Apple-centric blog Macotakara in October claimed that the company was working on a miniaturized dock that would feature the same number of pins and make it into Apple's next iPad before trickling down to other iOS devices. In a follow-up report late last month, blog iMore offered a similar claim , suggesting that Apple could be bringing it to a new iPhone later this year, versus to a new tablet.

Outcome: This did not happen. The 30-pin dock adapter is still there.

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