More purported iPad 2 cases are showing up online suggesting that manufacturers are getting ready for a new device with a rear-facing camera and back-mounted speaker.

Apple is widely expected to announce a new version of its tablet computer in January, a year after the company debuted the current version of the iPad.

The latest case recently popped up on retails goods wholesaler, and is made by a company called C & T Industry based in Guangdong, China. The silicon iPad case shows a space for a rear-facing camera at the top, and a speaker grille on the bottom rear side. The case found on Alibaba was first reported by AppleInsider.

In early December, an iPad case surfaced showing a rear-facing hole for a camera, but the case lacked the speaker grille seen on the C & T Industry version.

More recently, Japanese-language blog Mac Otakara citing anonymous sources based in China said the new iPad will sport a wide-range speaker on the rear of the device. The blog also said the new iPad will have a flat back -- the current iPad's back is curved -- and is thinner by 0.12 inch.

Current rumours suggest the new iPad will be sporting a front-facing camera for FaceTime video chat, rear-facing camera, and a higher resolution display. Some are also suggesting the new iPad may have an SD card slot and a dual core processor.

Despite an expected refresh next month, the iPad was believed to be a big hit for Apple this Christmas.

It's not clear how many iPads will end up under the tree today, but a recent report by comScore said computer hardware purchases for the holiday season rose by 25 percent compared to 2009. The metrics firm attributed most of that growth to handheld portable devices including the iPad as well as laptop computers.

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