Will the iPad 3 really cost more? New rumor: Nope

The rumor that Apple's next iPad would cost more than the current models has been met with skepticism, and part numbers.

Stacks of iPads sit waiting to be sold on the products launch day in San Francisco in 2010.
Stacks of iPads sit waiting to be sold on launch day in San Francisco in 2010. James Martin/CNET

A mysterious pricing sheet that emerged earlier this week suggesting Apple's next tablet will cost more than the iPad 2 is now being countered by another rumor that says otherwise.

Pointing to parts and pricing information provided by an anonymous source who has proved reliable in the past, 9to5Mac says that Apple's new lineup of iPad models due to be unveiled next week will carry the same capacities and price tags as existing versions.

Without weighing in on features, the blog's source "Mr. X" offers the following part numbers, with the "A" models presumably offering built-in cellular modems.

MC705LL/A - J1 GOOD A-USA
MC706LL/A - J1 BETTER A-USA
MC707LL/A - J1 BEST A-USA

MD328LL/A - J1 GOOD B- USA
MD329LL/A - J1 BETTER B-USA
MD330LL/A - J1 BEST-B-USA

MD366LL/A - J2A GOOD A-USA
MD367LL/A - J2A BETTER A-USA
MD368LL/A - J2A BEST A-USA

MD369LL/A - J2A GOOD B-USA
MD370LL/A - J2A BETTER B-USA
MD371LL/A - J2A BEST B-USA

This lineup would be in line with Apple's introduction of the iPad 2 last year, which kept prices and capacities the same, despite making numerous improvements to the hardware itself. A pricing sheet that made its way to popular Chinese microblogging site Sina Weibo earlier this week hinted that the newer versions of the tablet would come in at $70 to $80 more than their predecessors.

As 9to5Mac points out, the continuation of offering 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB options leaves no room for an 8GB model. Such an addition was rumored in a report yesterday by DigiTimes, which suggested that Apple was prepping the lower-cost iPad to better compete with the burgeoning crop of low-cost tablets.

Worth noting is that these new part numbers call into question an earlier report (also from 9to5Mac), suggesting Apple would offer three variants of the iPad .

9to5Mac's "Mr. X" source has a solid track record of providing legitimate part numbers ahead of Apple officially announcing the product. Most recently that was the heads-up about Apple offering a 64GB version of the iPhone 4S roughly five days ahead of the product's unveiling. That was followed up weeks later with correct information about Apple refreshing its MacBook Pro line.

However there has been the occasional miss about what the products will be, which is worth keeping in mind given this rumor. That includes Apple's Thunderbolt Display, which ended up being leaked in photos on Apple's own Web site , but was first misidentified by its part number as a new white plastic MacBook, a product Apple ended up shelving instead .

 

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