The iPad 3 is coming. And the latest word from the rumor mill suggests that Apple could be upping the tablet's price tag by a hefty margin. Here's what you should know:

How much more might the iPad 3 cost?
According to a recent inventory snap apparently taken onboard a high-security cargo plane from China, the basic iPad 3 (16GB with WiFi) could have a starting price of $579 — an $80 jump from the iPad 2. (See a full pricing list here.)

Where did this information come from?
The rumors flew around Chinese Twitter clone Sina Weibo, and were posted in WeiPhone forums. The image itself was ostensibly snapped by someone claiming to have access to a high-security cargo plane that was shipping the devices from Foxconn plants in China to the U.S.

Are the rumors legit?
It's hard to tell. In some ways, the details surrounding this leaked image seem "reasonable," says Arnold Kim at MacRumors. No way, says Adrian Kingsley-Hughes at ZDnet. Why would the Chinese carriers list inventory prices in dollars rather than yuan?

Why might the iPad 3 be more expensive?
Additional hardware could be behind the apparent price bump. Many believe the biggest upgrade to the iPad 3 will be a high-definition "retina" display like the iPhone, which contains considerably higher resolution and a sharper picture than the iPad. According to a tweet sent out by CNBC early Tuesday, unnamed sources claimed that the iPad 3 will also feature a snappier quad-core processor (the iPad 2 is dual-core) with faster 4G LTE wireless connections.

Is there an upside to the price hike?
The iPad 2 is about to get really cheap, says Brian Barrett at Gizmodo. Best Buy is already cutting $50 from the cost of the iPad 2. But if you really want the best bang for your buck? "Hold off a few months until refurbished iPad 3s start hitting the Apple store." 

When can I get an iPad 3?
Apple is gearing up for a March 7 announcement in San Francisco, during which the iPad will almost certainly be unveiled. If history is any guide, the new tablets will go on sale mere days after the March 7 event. 

Sources: 9to5 Mac, CNET, Forbes, Gizmodo, Macrumors, ZDNet

Editor's note: This article originally misidentified the location of Apple's March 7 event. It has since been corrected. We regret the error.