Apple’s iOS 5.1 developer beta, released to developers last night, has already given up references for the iPhone 5 and iPad 3. Even so, the update still has a few secrets to tell, reports 9to5Mac, revealing a never before seen iPad product ID (iPad 2,4), which could reference an unreleased Sprint iPad 2.
Numerous rumors suggested that Apple had finished and would be releasing an iPad 2 model in October with support for Sprint’s WiMAX network, but such a model never surfaced around the rumored October timeframe.
Considering that the product IDs for the Wifi, AT&T and Verizon iPad 2 are iPad 2,1; iPad 2,2; and iPad 2,3, respectively, the new product ID suggests that the iPad 2,4 is a minor variant of the existing iPad 2.
Personally, it seems to me as though it’s a bit late to be introducing a Sprint iPad 2. Instead, the new model number could reference an iPad 2 model designed for China Mobile’s TD-LTE network, or it could even be a test model of the iPad to test features and network support for the upcoming iPad 3.
The iPad 3 is rumored to be released in March, and with that deadline quickly approaching, I very much doubt that Apple will be bring the iPad 2 to any additional carriers.
My bet is that the iPad 2,4 product ID is indeed referencing an internal Apple prototype. Apple frequently tests future hardware ideas in existing product designs before implementing them in their next-gen hardware.