The alleged first images of Apple's next-generation iPad are out. 9to5Mac has published several images of the rear of a 9.7-inch tablet with a dubious-looking, smudged iPad logo and branding. If this is the real deal, the new tablet looks like it takes a lot of cues from the design approach the Cupertino giant used with the iPad mini.

The images, which the website claims to have received from an accessories manufacturer in China, might confirm a December rumour, which stated that a 5th-generation iPad that looks like the mini’s big brother is set to debut in March of 2013. However, more recent reports state that an October release is more likely. The pictures show the next-gen iPad beside the current iPad mini, and the similarities are very apparent.

Alleged pictures of the next-generation iPad (Image credit: 9to5Mac))

Alleged pictures of the next-generation iPad (Image credit: 9to5Mac).

The Apple-dedicated site also revealed some more details about the dimensions and design of the new iPad. “We were told this is a prototype back piece for the fifth-generation iPad with a 9.7-inch display. We were also told that the casing is almost as thin as the iPad mini’s back (pictured to the right). As you can see at the top of the purported iPad 5 backplate, this casing would likely be for an LTE model – as the black antenna cut implies,” the website says.

The Chinese accessories manufacturer sent several images to 9to5Mac, so if this is a hoax, it’s a rather elaborate one. The pictures line up nicely with a previous leak, which also claimed that the design of the iPad was about to get a change. The new iPad is said to employ a new screen technology called IGZO, which helps bring down the waistline of the device.

There is a touch of irony in the number of iPad leaks of late, considering Apple ramped up efforts last year to keep images and details of their unreleased products tightly sealed. Recent rumours indicated that Apple might soon be adding a 128GB iPad to its current line, and yesterday, an SKU listing seemingly confirmed the existence of a 128GB iPad, which was touted to be part of the current fourth-generation lineup. It will come in black or white colours, in 3G + Wi-Fi as well as just Wi-Fi. If this is true, we could have two new iPads to choose from.

2013 is set to be a busy year for Apple, when it comes to smartphones and tablets. The company is expected to announce two iPhones—a cheaper version of the iconic phone alongside the next-generation model, a new iPad mini, which could have a Retina-class display and the new iPad.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,