Apple Rumor Mill Churns Out Two Potential New iPad Variations

| About: Apple Inc. (AAPL)

By Jordan Crook

The Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) rumor mill never takes a break, even during the holidays.

In the past months we’ve heard two very specific allegations concerning the iPad — both out of Digitimes — focused on a smaller-sized Apple tab at 8.75 inches and a release date of early 2012. As Devin explained so well, the notion of a smaller iPad out of Cupertino is a bit hard to believe. It would mean that Apple is going back on its word that the iPad is the right size.

Today Digitimes backtracks from its previous rumor with a new one: Instead of the 7.85-inch iPad, Apple will supposedly be bringing two new Retina-style iPads to the market to fill in the mid- and high-end market segments, while the current iPad 2 hangs around to take on the Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) Kindle Fire.

Apple’s stuff tends to be a bit pricier than the competition, but Cupertino still likes to round out its categories. Just look at the iPod: Each model, ranging from Classic to Touch to Nano to Shuffle, is a very different product, but combined they still cover very different price points.

Digitimes sources claim that the new models will hold true to Apple’s 9.7-inch screen, but with a QXGA resolution (1536×2048) and dual-LED light bars. And if said sources are to be believed, Sharp is now taking the lead on panel supply, with a little help from LG Display and Samsung Electronics (OTC:SSNLF).

The report goes on to say that Samsung will continue to supply Apple with its chips, specifically the quad-core A6 this time around, and that Samsung has come on as a supplier of CMOS sensors. Apparently Samsung will be supplying 5-megapixel sensors for the mid-range model, while Sony provides 8-megapixel sensors for the high-end iPad.

Digitimes has also gathered information regarding the new iPad batteries, stating that Simplo Technology and Dynapack International Technology have both taken orders for batteries with a capacity of as high as 14,000 mAh. And if that weren’t enough, Digitimes even claims to know when the new models will be unveiled: January 26, 2012 at the iWorld conference.

Granted, this is quite a hefty amount of information, and I’d wager that not all of it is 100 percent spot on (Digitimes has been wrong before, but also right). Still, I think higher-res iPads with better cameras make much more sense out of Cupertino than a smaller tablet just for the sake of following competition. The Kindle Fire is selling great, and Apple doesn’t want even one competing tablet to start draining market share. But Apple has never fought back by copying.

The true assault will be a price drop, and from what we’ve seen happen with the iPhone 4 in recent months it wouldn’t be that surprising to see the current iPad 2 shed a couple hundred bucks from its price tag.

In order to compete with the $200 Fire, it’d have to.

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