Will Apple pull an iPhone 4S with the next iPad?

Will the next iPad look like Apple's iPad 2?


If there’s anything the last couple of years have taught us, it’s that a new year brings a fresh slate ofiPad rumors. And today, an interesting one has been let loose about the next iPad’s design.

Jeremy Horwitz, editor in chief at Apple news site iLounge, reported today that he saw what is “supposedly the next-generation iPad.” And although he didn’t provide picture evidence–a major red flag in the Apple rumors world–he did say that the device’s design was its most notable feature.

So, if the design was notable, it surely came with a new look and some neat new features, right? think again. According to Horwitz, the supposed next-generation iPad he saw looked nearly identical to the iPad 2.

“The new iPad’s body is so slightly thicker than the iPad 2 that the change is unnoticeable on first inspection; a roughly 1mm increase will barely be perceptible to users,” Horwitz wrote. “We’ve heard that the only accessories that might have issues are cases, and then, only cases that were precisely contoured to fit the iPad 2’s back.”

Horwitz also noted that all the physical buttons found on the iPad 2 are in the same spot on the device he claims to have seen.

Of course, Apple has neither confirmed the iLounge report nor immediately responded to CNET’s request for comment on the matter. however, if Apple does, in fact, launch a new iPad featuring the same basic look as the iPad 2, it wouldn’t be unprecedented.

Last year, Apple unveiled theiPhone 4S, which has the same design as theiPhone 4 but adds a few improvements, including a faster processor and better camera.

For his part, Horwitz isn’t convinced that the device he claims to have seen is the long-rumored iPad 3. He wrote today that the tablet could be the “iPad 2S” or “iPad 2HD,” considering few changes seem to have been made. He chose those names because Apple has followed a similar branding strategy in the past when few improvements came to the iPhone.

But as with many other Apple rumors, Horwitz’s claims came with a caveat. He acknowledged that the device he saw looks like it was produced over six months ago, which means it could have been a prototype. He did, however, try to bolster his report by saying that he spoke with several companies with some insight into Apple’s plans, and the features he saw are consistent with what they know about the upcoming slate.

Horwitz’s report is just the latest in a long line of rumors surrounding Apple’s next iPad. And until Apple is ready to announce the next iPad, every rumor, no matter how convincing, should be taken with the proverbial grain of salt.