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Report: iPad 3 Design is the Same as the iPad 2

When Apple launched the iPhone 4S, many people were disappointed. For one thing, it wasn't the iPhone 5. For another, it was basically just a copy of the iPhone 4 with some minor hardware upgrades. 

Something similar happened with the iPad 2. It made no real huge departure from the original iPad in terms of design. It was a little slimmer, sure, and there were some minor upgrades inside, but the two devices looked largely the same. Many assumed that this meant the iPad was subject to the same iPhone 3G to 3GS (and now iPhone 4 to 4S) update cycle in that there would only be a major upgrade every other year, with small tweaks to these models in the years between. However, it seems those looking forward to an all new iPad will be disappointed yet again with the iPad 3.

The folks over at iLounge claim to have seen and handled an iPad 3 at CES 2012. Now, of course, we all know that Apple isn't actually at CES, and iLounge doesn't mention which company brought along an iPad 3 for show and tell. That said, iLounge's Jeremy Horwitz is reporting that the device is present at the show but is so similar to the iPad 2, many wouldn't even know they were looking at the unannounced, unconfirmed iPad 3.  

"I'd show you a picture, but there's honestly nothing to be seen," he writes, before describing a tablet that is 1-mm thicker but otherwise almost identical to the iPad 2. The camera in the upper left corner is a little larger, and Horwitz says it looks very similar to the improved camera in the iPhone 4S, but, again, this isn't all that noticeable, especially from a distance. There are also rumors about a slightly small display for iPad 3, but (once again), if that was there, it wasn't obvious. Interestingly, Horwitz also mentions that the device he handled didn't look like it had just rolled off the assembly line a few weeks ago.

"I don't get the impression that what I saw was just manufactured—it actually seemed to be more than half a year old," he writes. "That's not a huge surprise given how long pre-production takes for a "new" device, but a lot can change between mid-2011 and early 2012. All I can tell you is that every company I've asked about the next iPad seems to think what I've told you above is correct, apart from the possible screen size tweak, which remains uncertain."

Assuming iLounge did actually play with something that was not an iPad 2, we think there's a couple of possibilities. First, this could be a now out-of-date prototype developed months ago. As Horwitz said, a lot can change in six months. It's possible this is just an early design for the iPad 3 (or an iPad 2S?) and the product we're expecting to be announced in the near future will be quite different. Second, it's also possible that this is the iPad 3 and Apple just hasn't seen fit to change the design, because the current design is just fine.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right?

Just because the exterior looks the same, that doesn't mean there isn't a boatload of changes under the hood. Horwitz did mention that this model was 1-mm thicker than an iPad 2, which would indicate to us that there was a need for a little more space inside, so we're hoping that this is the case. Notably absent was any mention of the rumored Retina display, which we had hoped to see with iPad 2. This would only be noticeable if the unit was actually operational, though, and we're guessing it wasn't.

Perhaps we're a little bit jaded, but we're taking this one with a pinch of 'pics or it didn't happen' and hoping the iPad 3 will, at least in terms of hardware, be quite a departure from iPad 2. Only time will tell. In the mean time, if you're eager to hear more about iLounge's experience with this new breed of iPad, you can head on over to the article and check it out for yourself.

  • polly the parrot
    Since when does Apple ever do anything new?
  • fb39ca4
    So what? The whole point of these upgrades is to improve the hardware. There is no need to whine about how the design didn't change, it looks and works well as it is.
  • Not sure they need to do much of a redesign, it's form factor and aesthetics still work well. I think it would be quite successful just updating the internals and putting in a higher resolution screen if they also provide a killer software application to highlight those changes.

    The iPhone 4s was not much of an upgrade in the standard sense, but with Siri it shines over the iPhone 4.
  • nebun
    why would it be any's very easy to mass-produce components
  • volks1470
    Good, i hope so. I always hate when a new form factor is produced. There are never any good cases or accessories at launch.
  • ap3x
    polly the parrotSince when does Apple ever do anything new?
    Huh? What is that about. How many times did the Samsung Galaxy design completely change or what about the Droid. Motorola, Samsung, and HTC recycles designs over and over and over again with just improvements in the underline hardware and the software and in some cases not even the software. Cmon man, the IPAD 2 is designed well, sells well, performs well and dominates it's space.

    They really do not have to do a design change, introduce Siri, put some new hardware under the hood, add a Retina display and the thing will sell tons no problem.
  • dragonsqrrl
    "it was basically just a copy of the iPhone 4 with some minor hardware upgrades."

    I'm not sure what you mean by "minor". The CPU, GPU, memory, and camera saw significant upgrades on the 4S, even though the exterior was virtually identical to the iPhone 4.
  • jiangyi
    I would've thought Apple would change the design at least a little bit after all the complaints about how easily the back of the iPad scratches and begins to look bad compared to their competitors.
  • austinwillis81
    innovation at it's finest ahahahha
  • amdfangirl
    We're so used to Apple being at the forefront of aesthetic design, any non-major change becomes unheard of.

    Being the market leader is hard to innovate, you're thinking of the ideas.

    Apple products need that reason to upgrade. That new feature nobody has heard of.

    There's only so much you can do. You can't retina or siri twice.