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Wednesday, December 22, 2010, 05:40 pm PT (08:40 pm ET)

Apple's next-gen iPad to get iPod touch-like back, wide-range speaker - rumor

The second-generation iPad may have a smaller bezel, a flat back panel and a wide-range speaker, a new unverified report claims.

Japanese Mac blog MacOtakara published the rumor Thursday, citing an "anonymous Chinese source."

According to the source, the LCD screen on the next-generation iPad will stay the same size, while the new tablet will be 3mm smaller, reportedly measuring 239mm by 186mm. The current iPad, which measures 242.8 mm by 189.7 mm, was criticized for its wide bezel when it was first unveiled in January.

Apple will reportedly change the back of the new iPad to be "flat like an iPod touch," which would also resolve criticisms that the iPad's curved back is impractical. According to the report, the Ambient Light Sensor has been moved to the "upper center of the rear panel" and has a new 3mm slim hole.

The rumor also suggested that a slot on the bottom of the device, which was spotted in early case designs, is actually a "large wide-ranged speaker unit covered with metal mesh."

Production of the new iPad has allegedly already begun, with a tentative shipping date of mid to late January, the report noted. Recent reports have suggested that Foxconn will begin shipping the iPad 2 to Apple in January or February. Apple could ramp up production capacity of the iPad to as much as 6 million per month.

A second rumor that the next iPad will have two cameras—a front camera for FaceTime and a rear camera equipped for recording video, was labeled as "unreliable information" by the blog.

In September, AppleInsider exclusively reported that Apple plans to bring its FaceTime video chat standard onto the iPad in its next revision, possibly ahead of the usual 12 month product cycle.