For much of the iOS era, accurate leaks were far and few between. But it’s a new Apple–with a freaking huge supply chain–and it certainly wasn’t able to keep the details of the iPhone 5 under wraps: we knew almost exactly what it was going to look like before before it came out.
A similar thing’s happened with the iPad Mini. We’ve seen leaks, photos, rumors and murmerings, and it all adds up to a pretty clear picture of what Apple’s smaller new hero device is going to look like. And, if Apple wants to be selling iPad Minis by the Christmas-and-shopping season, they’re going to want to release it soon. The current rumor is that invitations are going out on October 10 for an event on October 17 announcing a release date of November 2.
The short version is that Apple is releasing a 7-inch iPad tomorrow. It will most likely have a 7.85 inch screen and the same processor as the iPad 2. The main questions remaining are whether it will feature wireless connectivity, what Apple’s going to call it, and how much it will cost. There’s also the possibility of new Mac Minis, new iMacs, and a 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina. There’s also a chance that Apple slightly refreshes the iPad 3 to add the Lightning connector. If that’s not enough speculation for you, catch up on the rumors below before Apple’s official announcement.
It will look like an iOS device and it will be running iOS. That is, if you’ve ever held an iPad, iPhone, or iTouch, you have the idea. It will have a screen, a home button, a lock button, and a volume rocker. That much is known.
It will take a nano SIM card and it will feature an anodized aluminum back. We’ve seen two possible colors so far: a standard silver edition and a black version that should be really sexy looking. Right now it’s looking like there will be no back camera, but there will be a front camera for videoconferencing.
However, the biggest question is whether it’s going to look more like an enlarged iPod Touch or whether it will look like a shrunken iPad. The main difference will be in the vertical bezels when held in portrait. iPhones have small vertical bezels, because you can use them with one hand. iPads need two hands, and need places for your two thumbs to go. Thus, wider bezels. So the real question is whether the iPad Mini is meant to be used with two hands or one. There’s been a bit of evidence to imply that the iPad Mini will have skinny bezels: the current image leaks. This video clearly shows skinny bezels.
Here is one leak of a alleged iPad Mini that’s working.
Components and Performance
The logical assumption is that an iPad Mini will have basically the same guts as the iPad 2. That means an A5 processor and 512MB of RAM. When the iPad 3 came out, the iPad 2 got a newly updated A5 chip that used a smaller 19mm die, as opposed to the full size 25mm die. Think about it–Tim Cook’s a supply-side guy, and Apple spent a lot of research time and money shrinking the A5 chip. It makes a lot of sense to be used in three devices. Aside from that, we’ve seen the headphone port, the Lightning connector, and the casing.
iPad 2 benchmarks are here.
And yes, it’ll be using the new Lightning port. You think Apple would release a new device with a 30-pin connector?
We’re looking at a 7.85 inch screen, possibly made by LG or AU Optronics, that should be running at 1152×768, based on photo analaysic. 1152×768 has the same 16:9 movie-appropriate ratio as the still-new iPhone 5. It probably won’t be a “retina” screen according to Apple’s definition.
The new iPad starts at $500. The new iTouch costs $300 for the cheapest model. The iPad 2 still sells at a $400 price point. Somewhere in that matrix of pricing will fall the iPad Mini. An iPad mini at $300 could cannabalize iTouch sales, so around $350 is where the smart money is betting on the beginning price point for the iPad mini.
The Biggest Questions
The biggest unanswered questions is whether there be an option to get built in wireless internet. There’s no solid evidence either way at the moment, but some leaked pictures reveal a plastic back cover, which would imply the addition of 3G. There’s also a rumor that it will be WiFi only. 3G could be an important differentiator between the iPad Mini and the iTouch, not to mention the other hot-shot 7″ tablets that have come out recently. But an LTE-packing iPad Mini with a significantly smaller battery could negatively impact battery life.
And finally, people think the device is already in production. The WSJ thinks the factories in China (in particular, Foxconn and Pegatron) are already chugging away building iPads, but there’s also a chance that Foxconn’s Brazilian plant is making the device too. There’s already word out that there’s going to be shortages due to difficulties milling the aluminum casing–very much the same issue that caused a Foxconn strike with the iPhone 5. So if you want one, you should be ready to pre-order when they go on sale or get ready for a little bit of a campout.