The iPad 3 will be a substantial upgrade over the current model with a variety of "beefed up specs," says Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu.
Based on information from supply chain sources, Wu says the new iPad will sport a much faster processor, a higher-resolution screen, 4G LTE wireless, and the addition of voice assistant Siri. The analyst believes a robust near-term refresh is due since the the iPad 2 is about to turn a year old.
This week, Apple announced an event for March 7 at which the company is expected to unveil its latest iPad.
Other reports have pointed to some of the same features expected by Wu, including a higher-resolution Retina Display screen, a speedier processor, and support for LTE.
But among all the new features, 4G LTE will be the key, according to Wu.
Apple will not only implement LTE, but will do it in a way that preserves battery life, Wu said. Soaking up battery power has been a major hiccup with LTE on previous mobile devices, one reason why Apple waited so long to dive into the higher-speed wireless technology.
"Our industry checks indicate Apple has made notable progress in improving battery life that has plagued competitors," the analyst said in a report released yesterday. "This is due to Apple's ownership of core intellectual property including systems design, semiconductors, battery chemistry, and software."
Apple's more energy-efficient LTE will fuel higher demand for the new iPad and help combat the competition.
"We continue to believe this significant refresh will likely help drive higher iPad sales and help further differentiate from Amazon's Kindle Fire and the myriad of Google Android offerings out there," Wu added.
Based on the new features in the iPad 3, the analyst now believes Apple will sell 55 million tablets this year, up from his previous forecast of 51 million. The current quarter is expected to see sales of 10 million. And for those of you who own Apple stock or have been thinking of buying it, Wu sees the price shooting up to $620 sometime this year.