If two weeks ago a probable launch date was set for March 2012, we are now hearing that Apple has scheduled the launch of its next-generation iPad, in two versions, in January, according to sources close to the matter..

More precisely, during the iWorld event that will take place on January 26, the new tablets will be launched  and will be put up for sale along with he current line of iPad 2 – which will be cheapened and will continue to compete directly with Amazon’s Kindle Fire (currently sold at a price of $199).

In contrast, the two new models will target mid-range and high-end segments. Sources believe that both tablets will offer the same 9.7-inched dual-LED screen and QXGA resolution of 1536×2084 pixels – contrary to previous rumors that were aiming a smaller format version of only 7.85 inches.

Sharp will be the main supplier of panels for the next-generation Apple iPad series, while Samsung and LG will also be responsible for a part of the order. In the supply chain was also included Minebea, a manufacturer from which Sharp gets the backlight units (BLUs), sources stressed.

Apple continues its contract with Samsung for the production of quad-core A6 processors, which will be used in the next-generation iPad – unlike the current iPad 2 based on dual-core A5 processors.

Samsung is also among the suppliers for the CMOS image sensor used in the first of the new versions of iPad, which comes with a 5-megapixel lens. Another Apple supplier for image sensors will be Sony, namely for the model with an 8-megapixel lens.

Finally, Simplo Technology and Dynapack International Technology will supply batteries for the new tablets – with a double capacity than those used in iPad 2.

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