Rumors about the next-generation iPad is roaming. Claims suggest that it will come in three different versions, one of which would work with Verizon’s network. Wired stated that according to rumors, iPad 2 will support three different wireless configurations: UMTS, CDMA and Wi-Fi only, according to “industry sources quoted by DigiTimes” citing component makers. That’s up from the two versions Apple currently offers: UMTS plus Wi-Fi, and Wi-Fi only.
To explicate the alphabet soup, UMTS is the standard used by major 3G carriers such as AT&T and T-Mobile, while CDMA is compatible with Verizon and Sprint networks.
Currently the 3G iPad ships with a MicroSIM card slot, and in the United States, the only carrier that uses MicroSIM is AT&T. Customers who want to connect to non-AT&T 3G networks must either buy an external wireless hotspot device such as the Verizon MiFi (Verizon already sells a MiFi plus iPad package) or trim a standard SIM card down to MicroSIM size, like Wired.com’s Charlie Sorrel.
The current 3G model of the iPad is not tied to a contract: Customers pay a flat monthly rate for data and can opt out whenever they please. So if this rumor is true, it means that when the iPad 2 ships, you’ll have to pick a 3G model based on your carrier preference. If you don’t plan to be on the road a lot, there’s still the Wi-Fi option.
Support for both major wireless standards in the United States will make the iPad 2 available to a much larger potential audience, whereas before it was only available in the states from AT&T.
Recent rumors suggestion that the iPad 2 will hit stores April 2011, one year after the original iPad’s release. Some third-party protective cases for a purported “iPad 2″ have been cropping up in Asia, hinting at the possibility of a bigger speaker and a rear-facing camera.
Persistent rumors — so far unsubstantiated — have also pointed to a Verizon-compatible iPhone to be released in early 2011. If Verizon gets the iPhone and the iPad, it would greatly expand Apple’s potential market, and would also likely deal a severe blow to AT&T, which has been roundly criticized for the inability of its 3G network to keep up with iPhone-induced demand.