New Images of Apple’s (AAPL) iPad 5 Surface

The rumor Apple (AAPL) may launch a new iPad as soon as this March is not exactly new, but here’s a little more fuel for that fire. 9to5Mac reports that they have received an unverified image from a purported China-based iPad accessories maker that shows the back plate of the next/5th-gen iPad looking a lot like a ‘stretched’ iPad mini.

“While we cannot confirm that the above image is legitimate, it does provide a solid representation of what Apple’s next iPad will likely look like. 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 report might confirm a December rumor by Japanese blog Macotakara, which stated that the 5th-gen iPad is set to debut in March of 2013. However, a more recent report from iLounge’s Jeremy Horwitz claims that an October release is more likely. In his report Horwitz, who says that he has seen a physical model of the fifth-gen iPad, also affirms that Apple’s next iPad will have slimmer bezels and that its new design would be close to that of a ‘stretched iPad mini’.

“What does it look like? Well, it’s a lot smaller than one would guess was possible: in portrait orientation, picture a 9.7” screen with virtually no left or right bezels, and only enough space above and below the screen to accommodate the mandatory camera and Home Button elements. Beyond that, it’s noticeably thinner, as well, which is to say the the fifth-generation iPad will be smaller in every dimension than its predecessors. As it will have the same chamfered edges and curves, calling it a “stretched iPad mini” is very close to entirely accurate.”

Rumors on the next 9.7-inch iPad have come in waves lately. While Apple will keep quiet about any developments, we expect iPad 5 rumors, especially regarding the new iPad 5 release date, to intensify over the next few months.

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