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We’re not even in 2012 yet, but the iPad 3 rumor mill is in full swing.

The latest rumor: Apple is preparing two new iPad models for a January debut. That’s according to sources cited by the Taiwanese news site Digitimes (which has recently been off the mark quite a bit with Apple rumors).

Previously, we expected Apple to announce the iPad 3 in February or March for an April release.

The new iPads will fill in the mid-range and high-end tablet segment for Apple, with both sporting high-resolution displays and Apple’s new quad-core A6 processor, the sources say. The existing iPad 2 will remain unchanged and be positioned as a low-end entry to compete against the Kindle Fire (though I can’t imagine Apple would drop its price below $250).

Uncharacteristically for Digitimes, its report is filled with plenty of interesting detail — for example, that both new iPads will feature dual-LED light bars to increase brightness. The high-end iPad 3 will feature an 8-megapixel camera, while the mid-range is said to feature a 5-megapixel shooter. Contrary to previous reports, both new models will stick with 9.7-inch screens, rather than smaller displays.

While the added details lend some legitimacy to the report, Digitime also said that Apple will unveil the new iPad models at the Macworld iWorld conference in late January, which rings false, since Apple hasn’t participated in the conference for years. Perhaps things could change next month, but right now there’s no reason to believe Apple would head back to Macworld when its own press events gather plenty of attention.


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