Apple may launch an updated version of the iPad 3 (officially called The New iPad) at the Apple press event next Tuesday (23 October), but a Newer iPad (or iPad 4) isn't expected until mid 2013, and, according to supply chain sources will merely feature a "simpler manufacturing design".
The new version of the iPad 3 could ship with a Lightning Connector and offer compatibility with the UK LTE 4G network that will be provided by EE.
Earlier this year, the UK government allowed EE (Everything Everywhere) to 'refarm' portions of its 2G spectrum in the 1,800MHz band so that it can offer a 4G service in a handful of cities around the UK. The iPhone 5 uses the 1,800MHz band, which is good news for EE. Currently the iPad 3 uses the 700 and 2100MHz band.
EE has announced that it will launch its new 4G service on 30 October. In a statement the company said: "We are delighted to announce that the official launch of our new customer brand, EE, offering the UK's first superfast mobile 4G and fibre broadband service, will take place on the 30 October 2012."
Telecoms watchdog Ofcom is supposed to be auctioning off chunks of radio spectrum (the 800MHz and 2.6GHz frequencies) that will support the 4G services to the other mobile networks - when this version of 4G launches it will not be compatible with the current iPhone 5 model or the current iPad 3.
When will the iPad 4 launch?
As for the likely launch date for a The Newer iPad - which we will refer to as the iPad 4 to avoid confusion (see what you have done Apple!) - reports are claiming that Apple has told suppliers that they will be launching a next generation iPad in the middle of 2013.
According to DigiTimes, the next iPad will feature a "simpler manufacturing design" and the number of LED chips used in backlighting for the iPad will be reduced in the next model.
This news comes days after Apple was sued for its LED lighting in the New iPad (aka iPad 3) and MacBook Pro. According to Patently Apple, LED Tech has named Apple in a patent infringement suit. The company claims that Apple's products infringe on its patents for "apparatus of controlling and powering a solid-state light source such as a light-emitting diode or LED, for a portable battery-powered flashlight."
A separate DigiTimes report suggests that Apple's supply chain wants to charge the company more. According to DigiTimes sources, Foxconn and other partners have: "Demanded the brand vendor accept a price rise, as their labour costs in China have been rising".
According to that report, Apple has: "Placed strong pressures upon the upstream supply chain players' profits and caused the related players to demand higher prices for their components."
Macworld will be on hand with its customary live coverage of the iPad mini launch.