iPad 2 rumour round-up: What to expect from the next-gen tablet

We've rounded up the rumours, speculation and bare-faced flim-flammery surrounding the next Apple iPad. What can you expect from the iPad 2?

The iPad 2 will be revealed next week -- unless it isn't! It has an improved display -- unless it doesn't! It'll have a camera -- unless it won't! Rumours about the next Apple iPad have reached fever pitch, so let us sort out the likely from the unlikely with a handy round-up of the rumours, speculation and bare-faced flim-flammery.

The iPad 2 will launch any minute

Verdict: Highly possible. Various sites report Apple is planning an event for 2 March -- next Wednesday. Meanwhile, Orange and T-Mobile are offering the current version of the iPad for as little as £100 on a two-year contract, suggesting they're clearing out stock ahead of a new product.

Update: We've just received our invitation to the launch of the new iPad. It will indeed be on Wednesday 2 march, at 6pm.

The iPad 2 will not launch any minute

Verdict: Possible. Businessweek reports there have been manufacturing delays. A delay to the actual release isn't beyond the realms of possibility -- the original iPad's UK release was delayed, and does anyone remember the white iPhone 4? -- even though the announcement is going ahead next week. These reports have also come from analysts, those guys who dress up their wild guesses with corporatespeak to hide the fact they're basically making it all up.

The iPad 2 will have a camera

Verdict: Even Sir Elton John has his money on this one. From a camera-related job ad to FaceTime software, it seems certain the next iPad will have a camera at the front for video calling. There may be a camera at the back too, but hopefully it's packing better than 1-megapixel quality.

The iPad 2 will be more powerful

Verdict: It'd better be -- we'd feel cheated if any new device wasn't a bit thinner, lighter or more powerful than its predecessor, as the Wall Street Journal reports the next iPad will be.

The iPad 2 will work anywhere in the world

Verdict: Possible. The new version of the iPhone 4 for US network Verizon now packs a chip inside that works on different kinds of phone networks. If the iPad 2 also includes a Qualcomm multimode chip, it could work on GSMA or CDM networks, and potentially in any country.

The iPad 2 won't have an improved display

Verdict: Disappointingly likely. Assorted sources reckon Apple is having trouble scaling up the iPhone 4's eye-scorching high-resolution retina display to iPad size. But even if the resolution is the same, the screen will benefit from an anti-reflection coating.

The iPad 2 will introduce iOS 4.3

Verdict: It would make sense. The next version of Apple's mobile operating system, iOS 4.3, adds new multi-touch gestures and introduces Wi-Fi tethering. What better time to reveal it than on the shiny new iPad?

The iPad 2 will be smaller

Verdict: Unlikely. Steve Jobs hates "tweener tablets" like the Samsung Galaxy Tab, but it's rumoured the iPad 2's successor could be a smaller, 6-inch model. An iPad nano, if you will.

The iPad 2 will pay for things

Verdict: Possible, but we don't care. Near-field communication could be in the new iPad, allowing you to pay for stuff by waving your iPad at the till, but that won't mean much to us here in the UK, as NFC phones are still in their infancy.

The iPad 2 will be called the iPad 2

Verdict: We wouldn't put money on it. It's the logical name, but Apple has never been one to be told what to do. The second iPhone was called the iPhone 3G rather than the iPhone 2, but there's already a 3G iPad. Could we be about to see the iPad 3GS -- or something totally out of left field?

The iPad 2 will have a 27-inch screen, play CDs, and dispense milk

Verdict: Fingers crossed...

Have we missed any rumours? What would you like to see in the next iPad, and what would you call it? And can the iPad keep its grip at the top of the tablet tree in the face of competition from Android, the Motorola Xoom and the rest of the Honeycomb horde? Tell us in the comments or on our Facebook wall.