iPad 3: Dual-Core or Quad-Core?

Most pundits are certain that the Apple iPad three will have a resolution of 2,048 x 1,536, an option for a 4G LTE radio, and improved cameras. One area where experts are split is the processor. Over the last 24 hours, I spoke with 20 tech journalists and analysts. 13 of them believe that the iPad 3 will have a quad-core processor, while the others believe that it will feature an improved dual-core processor. There are pros and cons to each choice. Let’s take a look.

The experts that believe that the iPad 3 will have a quad-core processor mostly stated purely technical reasons. A quad-core processor is simply superior to a dual-core processor. It’s more powerful and capable, while also being more efficient. Each core can be clocked lower than the ones in a dual-core chip, allowing for superior battery life. Games, multitasking, browsing complex pages, and resource-intensive apps are better with a quad-core chip. Several of my colleagues pointed out that Google Android phones and tablets will have quad-core processors in 2012, so it makes sense that iOS phones and tablets will as well.

The ones that believe that Apple will stick to a dual-core design all admitted that a quad-core chip is technically superior, but would harm Apple’s tidy ecosystem. Although there are some apps that run on an iPad 2 and won’t run on an original iPad, there aren’t too many. The thinking is that a quad-core processor would cause a lot more fragmentation, making things more difficult for developers and potentially more frustrating for consumers. Sticking with a dual-core processor will help keep Apple’s development partners happy and prevent splinters in the App Store.

Most of the seven dual-core proponents were quick to point out that it doesn’t matter that Android will have quad-core processors. Some stated that this is because Android isn’t nearly as efficient as iOS and phones/tablets running Android need the extra power to perform smoothly. Others stated that Apple marches to its own beat and wouldn’t rush a quad-core chip into its products until it’s good and ready. The example of 4G LTE, which has been available on Android phones since early 2011 and still isn’t available in iOS products, was given.

Which chip would you bet on? Do you think the iPad 3 will have a dual-core or a quad-core processor?

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