The release dates of Apple's iPhone 5 and iPad 3 have been as hotly debated as the products themselves. The products, which will supposedly be flagship models for the Cupertino-based tech giant, in the smartphone and tablet markets respectively, have been rumoured at least since the iPhone 4S was launched in October last year.
In the most recent round of rumours, a report by iMore suggested the iPad 3 could be announced, if not launched, as early as March 7. However, Apple fans should keep in mind the report has neither been confirmed nor denied in typical Apple Inc. style. The iMore blog was only able to cite "sources who have been reliable in the past".
Earlier indicated that the new iPad could have an A6 quad-core processor. That report seemed to be confirmed by iMore, based on the fact they found coding references to a quad-core processor in a Jan. report.
Other key features, as speculated on by iMore, IBTimes UK and PCMag, include a High Definition Retina display (probably with 2048x1536 resolution), significantly more powerful cameras (possibly a 12 megapixel front-facing camera - although that has been spoken about for the iPhone 5 - and a 5 or 8 megapixel rear-facing unit) and wireless charging technology. Incidentally, yet another iMore report spoke about HD Face Time technology for the front camera.
The big news, however, is the strong possibility that the iPad 3 will come equipped to run on 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks. The iMore report referred to earlier (the first one) had admitted to doubts over the device's accessibility to 4G networks. However, they did admit that the fact that processors compatible with that technology (it was initially thought the technology would port with the next iPhone via the Qualcomm MDM9615 chipset) meant there was a chance the iPad 3 would trump the iPhone on this score.
A recent report Wall Street Journal report, quoting people "familiar with the matter" believes the iPad 3 will be equipped to run 4G networks in the U.S., although only on AT&T and Verizon's services. The report could not clarify whether Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile would have similar offers. A Slashgear report speculates that Apple may look to push 4G technology through on AT&T and Verizon rather than loose out to similarly powered competitor's tablets on the same networks.
However, the iMore report does also point out that 4G LTE networking services are actually rather sporadic throughout the world, noting that "international LTE coverage is still slim, and in some cases a year or more away".
As far as the UK markets are concerned, BBC reports in November, 2011, (among others) confirmed that service provider O2 had begun 4G LTE trials. The report said the nine-month long trial would be spread across London and users would be given broadband dongles for their computers allowing them to access the 2.6GHz spectrum. In December, a ZDNet report said mobile operator Three was planning a one-month technical trial for 4G networks in the UK would be held in March, across the Thames Valley.
Meanwhile, Ofcom (the regulator and competition authority for UK-based communications industries) said in a statement that auctions for allocation of spectrum would "perhaps" be held towards the end of 2012. This means the UK will actually only receive 4G networks after other countries like Sweden, South Korea and the U.S.