updated 01:25 pm EST, Tue January 10, 2012
External changes minimal, account hints
On the outside, changes to the iPad 3 may be minimal, suggests iLounge. Site editor Jeremy Horwitz says that yesterday he was shown an alleged prototype of the new tablet at the ongoing Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The hardware is described as "roughly 1mm" thicker than the iPad 2, which Horwitz adds that he's heard will cause no problems for accessories except those precisely tailored to the iPad 2's back. Buttons, switches and ports are otherwise said to be identical.
Of special interest may be the prototype's rear-facing camera, which is described as "noticeably" bigger than the one on the iPad 2, but only when two tablets are compared side-by-side. The new camera hole is circled by a silver ring, and reportedly resembles the size of the one for the iPhone 4S. This may back claims that the iPad 3 will get substantially improved front- and/or rear cameras.
Horwitz mentions, though, that the prototype "seemed to be more than half a year old." That could mean that it doesn't reflect the final design of the iPad 3, although Apple would likely have been finalizing details given the time needed for production.
Most of the changes to the iPad 3 are expected to only be noticeable in use, such as a higher-resolution screen, and a quad-core processor. The extra shell thickness may be needed to fit the new parts powering the tablet.