Superthin iPad 5 rumoured for March - like iPad mini but larger, natch

With countless iPads currently nestling under trees (or in Santa's heaving sack) ready to be unwrapped by eager paws on Christmas Day, this is probably not the news many will be wanting to hear. But yes, Apple is planning to release an even better iPad in just a few months - gosh, shock horror, who could've guessed it?

Latest rumours suggest that a new, improved iPad - commonly dubbed iPad 5 - is going to be announced in March, which isn't that surprising, to be frank. The "new" iPad - or iPad 3 - was announced in March this year, and the iPad 2, March 2011.

The original iPad was first announced in January 2010, but pre-orders didn't begin until March that year. Of course, the fourth-generation iPad was unveiled at the same time as the iPad mini in October, but that was more because the company wanted to add support for 4G in the UK as the EE network had just gone live.

So, a "leak" suggesting that the next model will be announced in March is like whispering to someone conspiratorially that it is going to rain tomorrow after taking a glimpse at a weather report.

More interesting, perhaps, is that the Japanese website Macotakara also reports that its "informed sources" say that the iPad 5 will be lighter and thinner, drawing inspiration from the design of the iPad mini. And this does accord with a previous rumour that the next Apple tablet will ditch one of the two LED backlighting bars in order to reduce weight.

Translation is sometimes tricky in such cases, but we think that when Macotakara claims that the new iPad will beĀ "a small 4mm in height, 17mm in width, depth 2mm" it means that it will be smaller than the former model by those dimensions. For example, the current fourth-generation device is 9.4mm thick. Take away the 2mm quoted and that'll leave 7.4mm. The iPad mini is 7.2mm, so that makes sense.

If this is true, is also means that the bezel on the iPad 5 will be smaller, as the screen will be the same 9.7-inches. That'd be nice.

Whatever the reality of the situation, you can be sure of one thing: this will not be the last we hear of the iPad 5 before its launch. Oh no, siree.