Apple Inc. took the wraps off a new iPad tablet with a sharper display and the ability to connect to the Internet on 4G broadband networks, as the electronics giant strives to stay ahead of rivals such as Amazon.com Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd. in a market it has helped create.
Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook, presiding over his biggest product launch since 2011’s voice-enabled iPhone 4S, introduced the highly anticipated 3rd iteration of the tablet, which is available for pre-orders from today and will hit store shelves March 16.
“It is amazing,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said at the company’s iPad-event in San Francisco, California. “We’ve taken it to a whole new level, and we are redefining the category that Apple created with the original iPad.”
The newest iPad will be capable of operating on a high-speed 4G “LTE” or Long-Term Evolution network. At speeds roughly 10 times faster than current 3G technology, that may help banish the sometimes shaky video quality of older devices.
Apple is betting a 4G-equipped iPad will tempt more U.S. consumers to pay extra for higher-quality video on the go. That, in turn, should give carriers Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc a revenue boost, analysts say.
The new 9.7-inch display screen will feature a “retina display” of 2047 by 1536 pixels, compared with the current model’s 1024 by 768 pixels. To break it down, that’s a total of 3.1 million pixels on the display screen.
“Your retina in your eye cannot discern those individual pixels,” said Apple Senior Vice President Phil Schiller. “The images on it look stunning.”
An updated version of the new iPad tablet – WiFi-only model – remains at $499. The most expensive 4G model, with 64 gigabytes of storage, will go for $829.
The previous iPad 2 with 3G also sold for $629 to $829, apart from the Wi-Fi only model. The cheapest model of the previous-generation iPad 2 now retails at $399.
The new iPad will also have a 5-megapixel camera, representing a significant leap from the current iPad’s so-so lens.The new tablet will be available starting on March 16 in the U.S., Canada, U.K., France and Germany.
Apple executives referred to the product as ‘the new iPad,’ without giving a more formal title. Names such as iPad 3 and iPad HD have been a focus of considerable speculation in advance of the announcement.
The new iPad is slightly thicker than the current iPad 2, and heavier, at 1.4 pounds compared with 1.3 pounds. Apple said it has the same battery life as the existing model, lasting about nine hours on a battery charge while using 4G communications.
One of the key selling points of the new device appears to be superior graphics, allowing the iPad to handle more sophisticated games that were demonsrated at the event.
Apple said what it calls the A5X chip in the system provides a four-fold performance boost in handling graphics chores.
“The iPhone 4S showed us that Apple doesn’t need to out-do itself with new product designs to continue extending its domination of a category,” said CCS Insight analyst John Jackson.
The company is counting on a warm reception to its latest tablet to fend off an increasingly aggressive challenge from Google Inc. Android-powered tablets, with Microsoft Corp software-driven devices slated to come soon.
“Everyone’s been wondering who will come out with a product that’s more amazing that the iPad 2,” Tim Cook said. “Stop wondering: we are.”
Earlier in the session, Tim Cook again held forth on what he called a “post-PC world”, in which users move increasingly away from traditional desktop and laptop computing and toward an array of portable devices.
And he announced that the company’s new $99 Apple TV set-top box, a concept that late CEO Steve Jobs had called a “hobby,” now supports high-definition 1080p screen technology.
“Last year alone we sold 172 million post-PC devices,” Cook told the audience at the Yerba Buena Center in downtown San Francisco, Apple’s preferred venue for product unveilings. “And this made up 76 percent of our revenues. This is incredible.”