Just over one month following the launch of the iPhone 5 and new iPod family, Apple is set to host a special media event tomorrow at 10:00 AM Pacific. The event is largely considered to be focused around the launch of Apple’s smaller iPad, which has been the topic of the rumor mill for the past several months.
While updated iMacs and Mac Minis, a 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, and iBooks 3.0 are also expected to make their debut, the iPad Mini should be the headline device at the event. So, what do we know about this smaller tablet based off rumors? Check out our extensive recap ahead.
For starters, there are a variety of different names being thrown around for the smaller iPad. Most rumors have been referring to the tablet as the iPad Mini, but there’s also the possibility that Apple will call it the iPad Air or simply iPad. For the sake of this article, we’ll continue to refer to the rumored device as the iPad Mini.
In terms of design, the iPad Mini is expected to have a similar appearance to the iPad, although it will obviously be smaller, thinner — 0.7 mm, perhaps — and lighter with a reported 7.85-inch display. The tablet is expected to be roughly 50 percent smaller than the regular 9.7-inch iPad. At the same time, it will be roughly 40 percent larger than 7-inch tablets by competitors, such as the Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 by Amazon and Google respectively.
Hardware wise, the iPad Mini is believed to use the same components as found inside the iPad 2. That would mean the iPad Mini should pack a dual-core custom Apple A5 processor, 512 MB of RAM and the same graphics processor. Similarly, the iPad Mini is expected to have the same 1,024 x 768 pixels resolution that the iPad 2 has, although the iPad Mini will have a higher pixel density (PPI) because of its smaller screen size.
The original iPad and iPad 2 have 132 PPI displays, while we expect the iPad Mini to deliver approximately 163 PPI. Not quite Retina display status, but that’s a premium feature that should belong to the iPad (third-generation) anyways. This is Apple we’re talking about, after all.
The new Lightning connector should be included in the iPad Mini, as Apple has abandoned the 30-pin dock connector that it used for almost a decade. Based on early iPad Mini cases, it could also have external stereo speakers, a rear-facing camera and a rear-facing microphone alongside standard iPad buttons and ports.
As far as pricing and availability goes, the iPad Mini is expected to start at around $329 for the entry-level model. Like other iPads, both Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi plus cellular models are said to be made available. The fifth-generation iPod touch will be only marginally more expensive than the iPad Mini at that price point, although John Gruber makes an interesting point about how miniature devices carry a premium over smaller devices.
The iPad Mini should be available to purchase as early as November 2nd from Apple retail locations and third-party retailers, presumably only in the typical seven or eight launch countries at first. That shortlist usually includes Australia, Canada, Germany, United Kingdom and the United States among others.
App Store compatibility with the iPad Mini will be a fairly simple process, since the 1,024 x 768 resolution is already common to the original iPad and iPad 2. That being said, thousands if not hundreds of thousands of apps should be ready to be used, without any issue, from the moment Apple launches the iPad Mini.
Moreover, the 7.85-inch display on the iPad Mini is expected to be able to run virtually any full-sized iPad app, since it is mathematically on scale with the traditional 9.7-inch screen. Apple is very meticulous and creative when it designs its products, so this is not surprising. Apple looks to avoid fragmentation at all costs.
Last, I wanted to touch upon the comments once made by Steve Jobs about how 7-inch tablets are “dead on arrival.” For starters, a 7.85-inch is 40 percent larger than those tablets that Jobs was referring to.
Additionally, Jobs was simply doing his job at marketing the iPad over its competitors at the time. Finally, it has been noted by various sources that Eddy Cue, Apple’s VP of Internet Services, had been able to convince Jobs internally that there is a market for a smaller iPad.
It’s unclear if the iPad Mini will be available in the wide array of colors that the new iPod touch is offered in. The iPad Mini will in all likelihood have an anodized aluminum backing, like other iPad models, but Apple might opt to stick with the regular metallic color with your choice of a white or black front bezel. A slate color might also be tabled, matching the look of the iPhone 5. I do think an iPad Mini offered in a rainbow of colors would look quite gorgeous, but I can see Apple holding back on this feature until a future generation, perhaps alongside a Retina display.