Apple iPad 2 rumors are like the last X-Files movie: we know there's no basis for them, but sometimes..."I Want To Believe."
Apparently, even industry analysts aren't immune to fantasies, with many predicting that the iPad's unborn child will ship roughly 40 million units next year, far more than the first iPad's estimated 12.9 million for 2010, according to iSuppli.
Here are the most prevalent rumors about iPad 2 that have been circulating the Web, along with our take on whether you can believe what you read:
1. There Will Be Three Versions: Wi-Fi, CDMA, and GSM
The first-generation iPad comes in two versions: Wi-Fi-only and GSM (3G), with local carriage limited to AT&T. But upstream component makers apparently told DigiTimes today to expect three versions of the iPad 2, supporting at least or one of: Wi-Fi, GSM, and CDMA. It even found shipment ratios of 3:4:3, respectively, and claims Apple will begin shipping them in January, which, based on this year's iPad supply-chain schedule, would land the iPad 2 in stores by April 2011.
CDMA technology is carried by Verizon, Sprint, MetroPCS, US Cellular and Cricket, though local carriage would probably be limited to just one of them (barring hacking). With an iPad on Verizon's network, it would have even more appeal, and that 40-million-units number is starting to look a bit more realistic.
Our take: Hard to say. Volume was never Apple's greatest concern, but perhaps it has learned a thing or two from locking its U.S. iPhones with AT&T for so long.
2. It Will Borrow Heavily from iPhone 4: Gyroscope, Two Cameras, Retina Display
Various reports have cited the likelihood of the iPad 2 bearing two cameras: a front-facing VGA cam and a back-facing 5-megapixel one. Heck, even Reuters is reporting this.
Reuters' (two) sources also claim that Apple has ordered supplies from Taiwanese camera component makers Genius Electronic Optical and Largan Precision, without specifying for which device.
DigiTimes reports inclusion of the iPhone 4's three-axle gyroscope, a set of spinning wheels that detects the orientation of tilts and spins (useful for gamers).
The report also mentions iPhone 4-like "Retina Display" technology, which on an iPad form factor, would translate to over 2,000 pixels.
Our take: Likely. Apple's category-defining 2011 mobile device can't be be even more backwards than its 2010 smartphone. Plus, Apple's obsession with FaceTime makes two cameras almost a sure bet.
3. It'll Be the First Apple Mobile Device with a USB Port
This would be a major bonus for unconverted iPad users, and for Apple as it attempts to make the iPad a bridge device between the phone and the computer. DigiTimes reports that the iPad 2 will have a micro USB port, which opens up connectivity to many more devices than the USB port-less first version.
Or it could be a mere stretch of the imagination given reports that the European Commission will require "all smartphones and simper data-enabled phones to adopt a standard micro-USB charging connector as of January 2011." But as far as we know, Apple counts iPads as computers, not phones.
Our take: Unlikely. Apple has defied universal pleasantries like USB ports for so long that we don't see it volunteering to add them to the iPad 2.
4. There Will Be a Smaller, 7-Inch Version
Citing an anonymous Chinese source, Japanese-language Kanteidan Blog "found" exact dimensions: the iPad 2 will be 239 mm (9.41 inches) by 186 mm (7.32 inches), making it just a tad smaller than the current iPad, which is 9.56 inches by 7.47 inches.
In August, sources told Taiwan's DigiTimes that the iPad 2's screen would be 7 inches, but in October Steve Jobs shared his philosophy on the 7-inch form factor: "The 7-inch tablets are tweeners," too big to compete with phones and too small to compete with 10-inch tablets.
Our take: Unlikely. Our Chinese sources never sent us the memo, but given Jobs' earlier comments it's extremely unlikely Apple would go for a tablet smaller than the current version.
5. Apple Has Ordered 65 Million Units
Another DigiTimes-originated rumor that's making the rounds today is that Apple has ordered 65 million screens from Asian suppliers for next year.
"Market players noted that the 65 million unit shipment goal indicates that Apple is very optimistic about the tablet PC market in 2011, and it may also mean that Apple is overbooking panel capacity."
Our take: Our bet's with the number crunchers over at Fortune, who convinced us that this is pure fantasy.
6. It'll Have an Anti-Smudge, Anti-Reflective Screen
Jobs is probably pretty ticked off (or fired up) over Kindle's golden boy status right now. So much so, that DigiTimes' latest report also claims that Apple is, "also working on strengthening the iPad 2's anti-smudge and anti-reflective treatments in order to compete against Kindle and attract more consumers" doesn't sound so far-fetched.
Our take: Unlikely. Despite comparisons, the Amazon Kindle and the Apple iPad play in two different leagues. Furthermore, anti-reflection would go against the glass aesthetic on virtually all Apple's devices now; anti-smudge, however, is certainly something Jobs should be trying to implement.
7. The Backside Will Sport Wide-Range Speakers
Oh, those crazy Japanese. Japan's May-The-Force-Be-With-You blogger Mac Otakara cites leaked photos from a Chinese source that show "a hole in the lower right of the rear panel is neither a USB connector nor a SD card slot. It is a large, wide-ranged speaker unit covered with metal mesh."
Our take: Unlikely. Our alarms flashed while reading the Mac Otakara story, which only published a concept drawing rather than the alleged photo leaks. While a speaker on iPad 2 could certainly happen, this just looks like bad Photoshop.
8. It Will Have an SD Card Slot...
Ashok Kumar, an analyst at New York-based Rodman and Renshaw, got this scoop: "Apple is on track to refresh the iPad by March and iPhone by late summer," he reportedly said. "A key component upgrade across these platforms will be a dual-core processor featuring a pair of 1GHz ARM Cortex A9 cores."
Some publications also speculate that the rear slot on early iPad 2 cases (see rumor #10) were made for SD cards. It would make sense given Apple already sells an SD card plug-in, the Camera Connection Kit, to allow for easy synching between camera and device.
Our take: Still it seems unlikely. Why would it have an SD slot before a badly-needed USB port, which already seems unlikely?
9. ...and a Dual-Core Processor
As Kumar noted above, the iPad 2 will have a dual-core processor made up of 1GYz ARM Cortex A9 cores.
A dual-core processor might silence Apple haters, specifically those awaiting the dual-core RIM PlayBook and teased Motorola Android tablet.
Our take: This is probably wishful thinking. True, LG opened the playing field when it unleashed the world's first dual-core smartphone, the LG Optimus 2X, but since when did Apple try to outdo Android or RIM on processing speed? A dual-core processor would be much faster but it would also eat up more battery, and we all know that is Apple's Achilles' heel as far as its devotees are concerned. Furthermore, yesterday an analyst from Kaufman Brothers told his clients that RIM needed to improve the dual-core PlayBook's four-hour battery life to boost sales volume against the iPad, Bloomberg reports.
10. Cases Already Exist
For all we know the iPad 2 is another white iPhone, but iPad 2 cases and leather bags have already sprung up on Alibaba.com, a Chinese B2B e-merchant, shedding questionable insight into what the next Apple tablet will look like.
A popular silicon case supplied by Guangzhou Xinting Phone Accessories, for instance, has a horizontal slit cut-out on the top of the backside, presumably for the rumored rear-end camera and speaker.
Our take: Likely, but don't bust open your e-wallet just yet. None of the product descriptions for these iPad 2 accessories bear hard specs, like dimensions. But it will protect against "dings" and "dust," as one manufacturer wrote in its product description.
This story originally appeared on PCMag.com, and has been syndicated on Gear Live with permission from Ziff Davis, Inc.. Additional reporting by lead analyst Tim Gideon, who recently gave a reality check to rampant iPad 2 fantasies.