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Apple's iPad 5 to be inspired by iPad mini, arrive in March 2013

Apple will release its next iPad in March 2013, according to an "inside source" cited by Japanese fanboy portal Macotakara.

Speculatively dubbed the iPad 5, it is thought that the design of Apple's next full form factor tablet will be inspired by the svelte iPad mini, losing up to 4mm in height, 17mm in width, and 2mm in depth as well as being lighter.

The fourth-generation iPad measures 241.2 x 185.7 x 9.4mm, so the subtractions would result in an iPad 5 with dimensions of 237.2 x 168.7 x 7.4mm. The iPad mini is 7.2mm thick, so at least the depth aspect of these presumptive calculations makes sense.

With regards to weight, the early gossip points to the Cupertino-based firm's fifth-generation iPad dropping down to one LED backlighting bar in a bid to make the device even more portable.

Are the early rumours likely to come to fruition? We can't think of a good reason why Apple wouldn't try to slim down its next full tablet offering, but a potential March 2013 launch is more complicated.

On the one hand, some consumers might appreciate a reasonably quick refresh, as the fourth-generation iPad didn't really add many new features: an improved processor, minor camera upgrades, and 4G LTE support were the headline upgrades, leaving many underwhelmed after the Retina revolution of the third-generation iPad.

Other punters. especially those who bought the iPad 3 after its March 2012 UK release, were furious that Apple introduced a new version of its so-called "new iPad" just seven months on, effectively negating the sexiness of their pricey purchase. An iPad 5 in March 2013 would mean three new full form factor tablets in the space of a year and further tick off irritable consumers.

That said, the tablet market is moving at a particularly fast pace at the moment, and given the demand for an iPad mini with Retina, sticking to its traditional March/April tablet release schedule may make sense - at least from a business perspective.