Apple testing 8-inch iPad, 4G LTE iPad 3 coming to Verizon, AT&T

If you thought we’d get through the pre-iPad 3 launch without the normal fury that builds before Apple releases a new product, you’re wrong. The Wall Street Journal — the tech world’s new go-to source for Apple rumors — has a pair of doozies today. First, WSJ reports that Apple is testing a smaller, 8-inch version of its iPad. Second, it says that the newest iPad, which is expected to debut the first week of March, will have 4G LTE connectivity.

Let’s take these one at a time. The first report, about the 8-inch iPad, should come as no surprise. It’s also fairly meaningless, at least for the moment. Apple tests new products all the time. Just because it does so doesn’t mean those products will find their way onto the shelf of your local Best Buy, soon or ever. That said, an 8-inch iPad is an excellent idea. The iPad and iPad 2 measure 9.7 inches, which is an nice screen size, but makes the device a bit cumbersome at times, especially if you’re using it for extended periods. An 8-inch tablet is, if you ask us, perfect.

The second report is much more important, as far as these types of things go. WSJ reports that both Verizon and AT&T will carry a 4G LTE-enabled iPad 3. This also comes as no surprise, as we’ve been hearing that the next iPad will be LTE for some time. And because Verizon and AT&T are the only two wireless carriers that currently have widespread LTE networks, the report lines up nicely with reality.

In addition to LTE connectivity, we expect the next iPad to have a Retina display (similar to the iPhone 4/4S) with a 2048×1024 resolution (twice that of the iPad 2). The device will likely look nearly identical to the iPad 2, but include a much faster A6 processor, which may or may not be quad-core, as well as a more powerful graphics processor. Better cameras, both front and back, are also expected. And the iPad 3 will likely come loaded with iOS 5.1, the newest version. Based on the most recent rumors, Apple is expected to debut its next tablet on March 7, at an event in San Francisco, and hit store soon after.

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