An iPad 3 with LTE

Today’s big news is a Bloomberg report claiming that the iPad 3 has entered production and is set to launch in March. While that piece of information and claims of a high-resolution “Retina” display are consistent with circulating rumors, the report’s assertion that the iPad 3 will both carry a quad-core processor (presumably Apple’s A6 system-on-a-chip) and support LTE cellular connectivity are very welcome confirmations.

When it comes to the processor, Apple has been widely reported to be developing its next-generation A6 system-on-a-chip with a quad-core processor. But one analyst suggested last August that an A6-powered iPad would be unlikely before June 2012 based on the suggested development timeline for the platform. That claim naturally led to speculation about whether the analyst was simply wrong (a common assumption), or if Apple would be forced to decide between releasing an A5-powered iPad 3 in the expected March timeframe or “pushing back” the iPad 3 launch to the June timeframe.

On the LTE front, Apple executives stated several times last year that the company was unwilling to adopt LTE in that year’s mobile products due to “design compromises” that would have had to have been made in order to accommodate the necessary chips. In brief, LTE devices have so far required two-chip solutions to provide the LTE baseband on top of the basic system components. That arrangement requires additional space and power that Apple was unwilling to dedicate to the technology last year.

Qualcomm is in the process of delivering single-chip LTE solutions to manufacturers for sampling, and that has been expected to be the necessary step for Apple to adopt the technology. But reports had indicated that single-chip solutions such as the MDM9615 would not be ready for mass production until early this year, with some sources reporting a Q2 introduction. Consequently, there has been some debate as to whether they would arrive in time for Apple to squeeze them into the iPad 3 for a spring launch.

Assuming Bloomberg‘s report is correct, both of the potential issues regarding A6 and LTE availability are no longer a concern, and even the most demanding Apple fans can look forward to another enticing product launch in the not-too-distant future.