Apple made the unusual step of adding thickness and weight to the third-generation iPad over the iPad 2 thanks to the inclusion of the energy-guzzling Retina display. The company may be looking to return to a thinner and lighter tablet, though, if DisplaySearch analyst Paul Semenza is to believed. Speaking to CNET (as seen at MacRumors), Semenza speculates that Apple could reduce the size of the LED backlight that powers the screen, helping to keep the resulting tablet thin in the process.
The reduction would make the display more efficient, as would using more efficient LEDs to begin with. The analyst goes on to say that Apple could make further improvements by changing the type of touch sensor used. A film-based touch sensor, for example, would again help to cut down on the size and weight of the tablet.
Alleged pictures of the rear case of the iPad 5 seem to suggest that this is the direction Apple is moving towards. The pictures depict a slate aluminium back reminiscent of the iPhone 5 as well as the iPad mini, pointing towards a unified design and a potentially trimmer tablet. For context, the iPhone 5 and iPad mini are 7.6mm and 7.2mm thick respectively compared to the 9.4mm thickness of the iPad 4.
More recent leaks also show that Apple may cut down the size of the side bezel to bring the 9.7-inch iPad in line with the design of the iPad mini. Reports originally suggested that the iPad 5 would be made available in March or April, with Apple now supposedly aiming to release the refreshed device later in the year.