The new iPad will be available in 10 countries on March 16 beginning at $499, Phil Schiller, Apple’s SVP of worldwide marketing, announced at a press event in San Francisco Wednesday.
Apple will begin taking pre-orders on its website later Wednesday. Devices will arrive in Apple stores in the U.S., UK, Japan, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, France, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia on the 16th.
Pricing for the device is identical to the iPad 2. Wi-Fi-only tablets cost $499, $599, and $699 for the 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB versions, respectively. iPads with 4G LTE connectivity are priced at $629, $729, and $829 for the 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB editions, not including carrier costs.
The new iPad’s key feature is its 9.7-inch, 2048 x 1536-pixel “retina” display powered by an A5X quad-core graphics chip. The display has a higher resolution than your standard, 1080p HDTV, and 44% greater saturation than the iPad 2.
“[It has] text sharper than a newspaper. Photos will look incredible. Fonts look amazing,” Schiller boasted. “[It has] the best mobile display that has ever shipped.”
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The tablet also comes with a significant camera improvements. An upgraded iSight camera has a resolution of 5 megapixels with backside illumination. A new “hybrid IR filter” allows for more advanced optics, Schiller said, along with autofocus, white balance and face detection capabilities. iPad 3 owners will also now be able to record HD (1080p) video with a built-in stabilizer and temporal noise reduction.
Other key highlights:
It’s called “The New iPad.” Not the iPad 3.
Can achieve download speeds of up to 72Mbps using AT&T’s or Verizon’s 4G LTE network and 21Mbps with HSPA+.
Can function as a personal hotspot if the carrier supports that feature.
Is 9.4mm wide and weighs 1.44 lbs (slightly heavier than iPad 2).
The battery lasts nine hours running on 4G LTE and 10 hours running on Wi-Fi.
Comes in black and white.
Supports voice dictation for English, French, German and Japanese.
In an unusual move, the company also announced that it will continue production of the iPad 2. Pricing for the device starts at $399 with Wi-Fi-only connectivity. For a full list of differences between the new iPad and iPad 2, see Apple’s website.