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iPad 3 will look a lot like the iPad 2: report

iPad 3, Apple's best-selling tablet, is not getting a radical redesign, judging by a new photo. But the best argument for the iPad 3 may be its intangible features. 

By Matthew Shaer / February 23, 2012

The iPad 3 is expected to arrive next month. But what shape will the new Apple tablet take? Here, a man walks past an iPad 2 advertisement in Shanghai.

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The iPad 3 is coming, probably with an HD display, a better processor, and maybe even 4G support.

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But is Apple planning on radically redesigning the chassis of its top-selling device? Probably not, judging by a much-discussed photo obtained by a Chinese blogger and posted today on MacRumors. The image purportedly shows the front glass and digitizer assembly on the iPad 3 – and the whole thing looks a lot like the assembly on the iPad 2

Writing at MacRumors, Eric Slivka argues that the allegedly leaked photo, combined with earlier snapshots of the reported casing on the iPad 3, yield a pretty convincing composite portrait of the new device. 

"The [display assembly] appears nearly identical to that of the iPad 2, with the major distinguishing feature being a relatively long ribbon cable extending up the side of the display as opposed to a shorter cable with a sideways orientation seen in the iPad 2," Slivka writes. "Other features of the iPad 3 display include the same round home button seen in all iOS devices so far and a hole in the top bezel to accommodate both the front-facing camera and the ambient light sensor." 

Caveats apply: The veracity of these photos, which have not been substantiated by Apple, remain unclear. Still, Apple is by most indications close to unveiling its new tablet, and it makes sense that production photos of the iPad 3 would start to hit the Web around now. 

Of course, as James Kendrick of ZDNet points out today, in many ways, it doesn't matter what the new iPad looks like – it only matters what the next Apple tablet allows consumers to do. 

"In other words, what will sell millions of new iPads is the same thing that sold all of the iPad and iPad 2 – apps," Kendrick writes. "Apps to make all of the aforementioned things happen. Apps to make common things happen in new and innovative ways. As the ads have told us for years, there’s an app for that. And they will sell millions of iPad 3 tablets. No matter what’s under the hood."

In related news, as we noted last week, it appears Amazon could be readying a sequel to the Kindle Fire, the two-hundred-buck-tablet which helped shake up the market in December and January. 

For more tech news, follow us on Twitter @venturenaut. And don’t forget to sign up for the weekly BizTech newsletter.

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