Apple announced that the new iPad will include access to the high-speed 4G LTE network and will feature a voice dictation tool. The starting price for the unit begins at $499.
At the California event live-blogged by hundreds of news sites, Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke about Apple heading into the post-PC future, saying "Our post PC devices made up 76% of our revenues."
He added Apple sold millions of iOS devices in one quarter, specifically stating they sold "an astonishing 315 million devices through last year, 62 million in Q4 2011."
Cook said Apple sold 15.4 million iPads in the last quarter alone. More than 200,000 apps have been built for the iPad, he added.
"Everyone's been wondering, who will come out with a product that's more amazing than the iPad 2?" Cook said, and paused, then said, "We are!"
Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller described the new iPad
, first announcing a new retina display at 264ppi. "For the first time an iPad has a higher resolution than this entire display behind you," he said, pointing to the massive screen on stage. "That's a fun challenge."
The display sports 2048 x 1536, equally 3.1 million pixels. "The most ever in a mobile device," Schiller pointed out. The saturation is 44 per cent greater compared to the iPad 2.
The device also includes the quad-core A5X processor, Schiller said.
The new iSight camera on this iPad features a 5-megapixel backside illuminated sensor on the back, a 5-element lens, IR filter, and auto-focus and auto-exposure tools. The camera also lets you do some 1080p video recording, a feature many observers expected.
Then Schiller introduced the voice dictation add-on. "The iPad, like all great iOS devices, has a great keyboard and now you'll see there's a new key on the bottom: a microphone." Instead of typing, you can tap the microphone icon on the keyboard, then say what you want to say and the device listens. Tap "done," and iPad converts your words into text. Dictation also works with third-party apps
He also announced this iPad will offer 4G LTE service, a highly anticipated feature. The iPad 2 zipped along at 3.1Mbps on EV-DO, 7.2 on HSPA, Schiller noted, but the latest tablet will access the Web at 21Mbps HSPA+ and DC-HSDPA at 42Mbps, with LTE triumphing at 73Mbps.
LTE partners in North America include Verizon, Rogers, Bell, Telus and AT&T.
Schiller said the new iPad delivers the same as the iPad 2 in battery life - 10 hours of battery life, clocking around 9 hours on 4G.
Size-wise, it comes in at 9.4mm thin, weighing 1.4lbs.
The new iPad will cost $499 for 16GB, 32GB is $599 and 64GB for $699. If you want a 4G unit, it will cost $629, $729 and $829 respectively. It will be available worldwide on March 16 but Apple is taking pre-orders now.