Apple's iPad 3 Poses More Questions Than Answers (Update 1)

Updated from 12:58 p.m. EST to include analysts' comments in the seventh and eight paragraphs.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - The buzz around the Apple ( AAPL) iPad 3 is increasing by the day, with Apple confirming the rumors about a launch next week, but the features list is still up in the air.

Working off of leaked photos and images, several analysts and bloggers have speculated the next version of the iPad will be slightly thicker than the iPad 2, which could mean a bigger battery. Rumors suggest the tablet will feature Retina Display, the new A5X processor for improved speed and computing power, and a QXGA 1,536 x 2,048-pixel HD display.

Another rumor which could be the biggest selling point would be the new iPad will be Long Term Evolution (LTE) ready, capable of running on the 4G networks from AT&T ( T) and Verizon ( VZ).

Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu believes that if the iPad were to incorporate 4G LTE technology, it could be a boon for sales.

"We believe this significant refresh will likely help drive higher iPad sales and help further differentiate from arguably the only real competitor in the market, sic Amazon's ( AAPL) Kindle Fire and not to mention the myriad of sic Google ( GOOG) Android offerings out there," Wu wrote in a recent research note. He rates Apple buy with a $550 price target.

Wu believes the introduction of an LTE-enabled iPad could make his estimate for 51 million iPads to be sold in fiscal year 2012 "conservative." Apple has sold more than 55 million iPads since the product launched in March 2010.

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster suggested in a research note that Apple could call the new tablet "iPad HD," highlighting the high-resolution display, or perhaps "iPad 4G" to showcase the potential for 4G LTE connectivity.

Munster also noted that if Apple does sell an iPad in the March quarter, that could "drive upside to our March quarter iPad estimate of 9.0m units." Munster rates Apple overweight with a $670 price target.

Many believe the third version of the iPad will include Siri, Apple's voice navigation assistant. Siri is already known to be making its way into some models of Mercedes-Benz cars later this year.

CNBC tweeted Apple has sent out the press invite, entitled "We Have Something You Really Have To See. And Touch." The event will be held March 7 in San Francisco at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts at 10 a.m. PST.

Rumors started to heat up about the next version of the iPad on Monday, as shipping manifests from China were leaked. This seemed to suggest that shipments from China were coming to the U.S. with Apple products.

The shipping manifests showed a series of shipments coming from Chengdu, China, to arrive in the U.S. no later than March 9, according to Apple.pro and the Apple Insider Web sites. Chengdu, China is the home of Foxconn, one of Apple's main manufacturing partners in China.

Best Buy ( BBY) is also offering $50 off the iPad 2 in its stores and its website.

There are also rumors that Apple would launch the next version of its Apple TV set -top box at the event.

Shares of Apple are up 1.56% to $533.96 in Tuesday trading.

Interested in more on Apple? See TheStreet Ratings' report card for this stock.

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-- Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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