SAN FRANCISCO, March 7, 2012 -- Apple today announced its new iPad -- a powerful updated model with a new processor and a high-definition display.
The new "Retina Display" screen has 2048 x 1536 resolution, which is higher than that found any other tablet on the market. The result, said Apple, will be much crisper pictures and video. After weeks of rumors that it might be called the "iPad 3" or "iPad HD," Apple only referred to it as "the new iPad" at today's rollout in San Francisco.
Apple's Senior Vice President of Marketing, Philip W. Schiller, touted the new screen on stage. "You are going to see sharper images," he said. "Photos are just going to look amazing."
On the outside, the new iPad looks very similar to the tablet Apple has been selling for more than a year. But with an A5x processor and quad-core graphics, Apple said images would have 44 percent greater color saturation than one sees on the previous model. There will be 3.1 million pixels on the screen, 264 pixels per inch.
The new tablet will have 10 hours of battery life, Schiller said, nine hours when receiving 4G signals. It will be all of 9.5 mm thick.
Schiller said the new iPad would have a more powerful "iSight" 5-megapixel camera built in. The camera, he said, can capture 1080p video. It also has image stabilization.
Apple has also added 4G LTE capabilities from Verizon and AT&T, meaning those who opt for the 3G / 4G models will get faster browsing and Internet speeds. This is the first time Apple has decided to integrate LTE into one of its products. The base model, which will start at $499, will have 16GB of memory and only Wi-Fi connectivity.
That's the same price Apple has listed for the existing iPad 2. It said starting prices for the existing model would drop $100, to $399.
Apple said it would start taking pre-orders for the new iPad in 10 countries today, and it will be available March 16. A version with 64GB of memory will retail for $699.
Presiding over the announcement was Tim Cook, Apple's new CEO and founder Steve Jobs' chosen successor. "You are going to see a lot more of this kind of innovation. We are just getting started."" Cook said.
Among other features, the new tablet will take dictation. Speak into a microphone, Apple said, and your words will be transcribed on the screen.
The new iPad announcement comes as the company faces stiff scrutiny over how its products are made in China. Following reports of underage labor and unsafe working conditions on assembly lines at Apple suppliers, the Fair Labor Association will submit a report on Apple's Foxconn production lines this month. ABC News got an exclusive look inside Apple's production line last month.
Stay tuned for our hands-on impressions of the new iPad.