Rumor: Two New iPads in January, iPad 2 Price Drop Expected [Updated]

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Mike Segar / Reuters

Apple's iPad tablets and iPhones are displayed inside an Apple store in New York City on Dec. 7, 2011

Apple’s next iPad — make that iPads, as in two — could see light of day at last in January, according to a highly detailed new rumor, but word that Apple was planning a smaller 7-inch iPad is in doubt after the source backed away from earlier claims.

DigiTimes now says that Apple will unveil two next-gen iPads at iWorld (formerly Macworld Expo) on January 26. Expect the new models to complement rather than replace Apple’s iPad 2, say DT’s sources, describing the move as an attempt to broaden the iPad 2 series by introducing an “entry level, mid-range and high-end” lineup. In this scenario, a price-reduced iPad 2 would square off with Amazon’s Kindle Fire, while the two new models would target the mid-range and high-end market segments.

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That means prior claims that Apple was planning a 7.85-inch iPad are off the table. DT says the new iPads will be 9.7-inch models, like the iPad 2, but step up resolution-wise to 2,048 by 1,536 pixels, or QXGA quality. Look for Apple’s faster quad-core A6 processors in the new iPads (the iPad 2 uses Apple’s dual-core A5 processor), 8- and 5-megapixel cameras in the high- and mid-range models, respectively, dual-LED light bars to make the panels brighter and batteries with capacities as high as 14,000 mAh, say DT (the iPad 2’s battery is about half that — just shy of 7,000 mAh).

Does any of the above pass the smell test? The details are unusually specific as claims like these go, and next-gen iPads were rumored to be coming by late 2011 all year, so the timing makes sense. And there’s the Kindle Fire to think about, setting holiday sales records for Amazon (the company’s claiming today that it sold over a million Kindle Fires a week in December). Apple’s overdue to stratify the iPad family — strong as iPad 2 sales are already, offering an entry level iPad 2, say in the $200 range, could blow the tablet market wide open and force Amazon (among others) to react sooner than later.

The source for the claim? “Supply chain partners,” which if you follow this sort of rumormongering, makes the claim’s credibility a tossup. Let’s call it “fingers crossed” then.

[Update: And fingers uncrossed, at least about the iWorld part, because The Loop wisely reminds us that Apple said sayonara to Macworld Expo (now iWorld) in 2009 — the chances that’s changed are just about zero. That, and The Loop notes its own sources are saying nope to a new iPad at either CES or iWorld.]

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Matt Peckham is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @mattpeckham, Google+ or Facebook. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.