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iPad 3 with retina display coming 2012, say sources

Apple could be prepping the iPad 3 for release early next year. The third iteration of the tablet will apparently sport retina display tech.

Apple could be set to unleash a third iPad with a retina display early next year, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

We've heard no end of iPad rumours, but this one does come via a reputable source. Citing "people familiar with the situation", the report reckons Apple has already ordered components for the iPad 3, including display panels and chips.

Apple has allegedly ordered parts for about 1.5 million iPad 3s. That sounds like a big number, but Apple managed to shift 9.25 million iPads between April and June this year alone.

The most interesting nugget is the hint of a retina display on the next iPad. Apple's incredibly hi-res displays are already in place on the newest iPod touch and the iPhone 4, and it's one of the features we were expecting to make it onto the iPad 2. Obviously that didn't pan out -- the second iPad has the same display as its predecessor.

The iPad 3 could feature a resolution of 2,048x1,536 pixels, which would quadruple the iPad 2's 1,024x768 pixel resolution.

So, are we likely to see a retina-rockin' iPad 3 early next year?

Quite possibly. Improving the display seems like a natural next step for the app-packin' tablet, and a release early next year would be roughly in keeping with previous versions. The iPad 2 was announced on 2 March.

That said, we've also heard mysterious whispers in the wind of a new version of the iPad coming out in the next few months. We think that's unlikely though, and our money is on Apple focusing on the iPhone 5 for now, not wanting to overwhelm our wallets with too much new gadgetry.

For everything you need to know about the third iPad, check out our iPad 3 rumour guide. And once you're done, head back here to empty your opinions into the comments section below, or all over our Facebook wall