Stories of the iPad Mini have been around since the introduction of the first iPad but until recently it seemed an unlikely proposition as Steve Jobs once dismissed the idea by saying “7 inch tablets are going to be DOA”.
That quote becomes less relevant as time goes on. Not only was his jibe about having to sandpaper your fingers to use them ridiculous (what would you have to do for the iPhone?) but the success of the Google Nexus 7 has proven there is most definitely a market for smaller tablets.
Of course, cost is a big part of why 7-inchers sell.
Apple has always aimed high with its prices but it has got to be concerned about the sub-£200 Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire. An iPad Mini sitting between the iPod Touch and full size iPad could put out the Fire and take some of the shine off the Nexus 7.
So what can we expect from a mid-size iPad? Here’s a look at some of the latest rumours.
“iPad Mini will be the official name” - so says Know Your Mobile via Macotakara, which claims to have received confirmation from a source.
This would seem to be the most sensible approach (iPad 7 would just be confusing) and fits with Apple’s naming convention for other devices like the iPod Nano and iPod Touch.
7.85-inches is the number which keeps being bandied about. Pacific Crest analyst Andy Hargreaves said in a revealing report that based on supply data they expect the new tablet to feature a 7.85-inch display, and that the iPad 2 would be killed off in favour of this new device.
That’s a direct challenge for the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire.
Could it be a Retina Display? UnwiredView said in July that it would be using Sharp IGZO technology which is thinner than other screens and capable of an impressive 330ppi pixel density. However Apple will want to be keeping costs down to compete with Android models so this doesn’t necessarily stack up.
Andy Hargreaves thinks 8GB internal storage will probably be standard for the iPad Mini but there may also be a 16GB version to fill the gap left by the iPad 2.
In the interest of cost-cutting we aren’t expecting a super-powerful CPU in the iPad Mini but with Apple’s efficient iOS software this isn’t a requirement to ensure an impressive performance. The iPhone 3GS and iPod Touch both manage to handle the latest apps and games so we’re expecting it to be about as powerful as the current iPad 2. There should be no need for a ton of graphical horsepower as it’s not likely to be driving the same high-res display as the New iPad.
Advances in the technology should also mean they can make the iPad Mini thinner than previous iPads. Daring Fireball’s John Gruber says that the iPad Mini may be better off being called the iPad Air. He also linked to this image which may show the iPad Mini in a case.
Additionally, it’s all but confirmed that Apple will be introducing a new smaller dock connector for the iPhone 5. Not using it on the iPad Mini would be what the kids call an epic fail.
The retail cost of the Mini is probably $299 (£190) or thereabouts. That’s the consistent rumour and the figure put forward by Andy Hargreaves. That’d make it more expensive than the $199 Nexus 7, but Apple already knows people will pay a premium for i-things and it’s still cheaper than any other iPad to date. The UK price is probably going to be the usual direct $/£ translation of £299 (cynical, us?).
Apple could shock everyone by doing it for $199 and trample over Google and Amazon in the process, but they wouldn’t make much/any profit which is definitely not in their nature. Estimates indicate Google breaks even on the Nexus 7 but the profit margins are minimal.
October. The general consensus is that Apple would not overshadow the iPhone 5 by announcing both on 12 September. Leaving it a month will give them a chance to wring every last drop from the iPhone 5 launch then continue the momentum with the iPad Mini for two full months of Apple fever.