*Update as of 30/1/2013 1.34pm: M1, SingTel and StarHub have informed us that they will be offering the new 128GB iPad with Retina display. Contract pricing and availability will be made known at a later date.
Apple just announced a 128GB version of its fourth generation iPad with Retina display, which will come in Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + 4G variants. The new model will be available from 5 February, Tuesday (US timing) in black or white for a recommended retail price of US$799 (Wi-Fi) and US$929 (Wi-Fi + 4G).
Locally, both editions will retail for S$1,048 (Wi-Fi) and S$1,218 (Wi-Fi + 4G) respectively. All versions of the 128GB iPad will be sold through the Apple Online Store, Apple retail stores and select Apple Authorized Resellers.
According to Philip Schiller, Apple's senior president for worldwide marketing, increasingly people are relying on their tablets for both work and play and the massive 128GB onboard storage will certainly allow any user to either be more productive by storing and transferring huge work files, data sets, or enjoy entertainment on the go with ever more multimedia content available at one's fingertips. The many professionals in the design, engineering and multimedia editing field are just some of the users who'll find this huge storage invaluable in their line of work.
The growing list of apps, especially tablet optimized apps of over 300,000 further gives rise to users wanting to access and have all their preferred apps on hand rather than resort to housekeeping options.
What's really interesting is the relatively small premium that Apple is asking for the 128GB edition as compared to the existing capacity points available. Given the price of S$1,048 and S$1,218 respectively, the 128GB capacity model seems like a steal. Is it a sign perhaps that price adjustments may apply for the other storage options in the Apple iPad lineup? However unlikely that sounds, we'll find out if any adjustments do take place next week.
Other than the huge storage boost, the 128GB edition has all the same features that the fourth generation Apple iPad is expected to have. Launched in October last year alongside the 7.9-inch iPad mini. It comes with a more powerful A6X processor, improved 1.2-megapixel front camera and LTE support. When we reviewed the iPad 4, we found its battery life to be slightly better than its predecessor.
With some recent Android tablets (such as the Toshiba Regza AT300 and Sony Xperia Tablet S) boasting a total storage capacity of over 144GB when factoring in built-in and expandable storage options, it's little wonder that Apple is playing catch-up of sorts and ensuring that it still stays relevant. Apple's trump card for the iPad is still its Retina display (2,048 x 1,536 pixels resolution) and the vast variety of tablet optimized apps. It remains to be seen if it the rumored successor has the chops to truly set itself apart from the competition that's catching up.
Apple sold nearly 23 million iPads in the last quarter of 2012, which is a huge increase from 15.4 million units in the same quarter a year ago. With the 128GB model going on sale soon, Apple may see another quarter of booming iPad sales.