Apple Finally Announces New iPad, Don’t Call it “iPad 3”

It’s an Apple announcement day, which means a national holiday for Apple fanboys and a good day to stay off the Internet for haters. As expected, Apple unveiled the new iPad at its press conference today, as well as some other product updates we’ll tell you about in a bit.

And yes, that’s the “new iPad” or “third-generation iPad” mind you; for some reason, Apple isn’t calling the “iPad 3”. Whatever name given the rose, it has some sweet features, starting with Apple’s new A5X processor under the hood, which Apple claims doubles the performance of the A5. The A5X boasts quad-core graphics and supports the iSight camera’s 5MP and 1080p HD video-shooting capabilities. iSight also features autofocus, autoexposure, and software stabilization.

The Retina display now boasts a ridiculous 2048x1536 resolution--that’s four times the resolution of the iPad 2--and it also has 44% better color saturation. The design is such that the human eye should be unable to distinguish individual pixels from 15 inches away.

The new iPad also sports a built-in microphone, ostensibly to enable Siri functionality, and the device supports American and British English, French, German, and Japanese; it also begs the question of how this thing is not just a giant iPhone now (not that it’s a bad thing).

4G LTE is onboard the new iPad, offering up to 73Mbps. Additionally, as long as the carrier support it, the iPad can function as a mobile hotspot. Carriers will be Verizon, AT&T, Rogers, Bell, and Telus.

All of the built-in apps have been upgraded somewhat, with new versions of your favorite iWork and iLife apps including iPhoto, Garageband, and iMovie. iCloud integration is also a focus of the new releases.

The new iPad, available in black or white, promises the same battery life as the iPad 2--10 hours, with 9 hours on 3G (or in the case of the new iPad, 4G), and it measures 9.4mm and 1.4lbs. Prices start at $499 for the 16GB version, and the 32GB and 64GB editions will run $599 and $699, respectively. Of course, that’s not for the 4G versions; those will cost you $629 (16GB). $729 (32GB), and $829 (64GB).

If you were crossing your fingers, hoping to snag a deal on an iPad 2 once the new iPad was released, you’re in luck--the iPad 2 (16GB, WiFi only) dropped $100 in price and is now available for $399, while the 16GB WiFi+3G version is now $529.

The new third-generation iPad is up for preorder today and will launch in the U.S., Canada, Australia, UK, France, Germany, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore, and the US Virgin Islands on March 16th, with a complete worldwide rollout on March 23rd.

Feel free to start queuing today at your local (well, regional, anyway) Apple store to secure your place in line.