Preview: iPad 5 and iPad mini 2

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We expect Apple to introduce two new iPads again this year, just like last year in October 2012. Moving forward to the next generation iPad mini and the fifth generation iPad, Apple’s iOS tablet experience. 

Just like last year Apple didn’t change the physical buttons or port locations on the iPad and even the iPhone for that matter. The power button will be on the top, home button on the bottom front center, lightning connector on the bottom and a volume and mute or orientation switch on the right hand side of the device. It’s all here.

iPad 5th Generation

While we don’t know the name for the new iPad for sure, Apple will likely call it the “5th generation iPad”. In previous years, Apple named the iPad 3rd “the new iPad” following the iPad 2 and then the 4th generation as the “4th generation iPad”. Though in marketing, Apple names both the third and fourth generation iPads as “iPad with Retina display”. Colloquially, we’ll be referencing the 5th generation iPad as “iPad 5″ for this article.

Physical Differences

The iPad 5 will be receiving a new design this year. First off the length of the device (9.50 inches currently) will be shortened at 9.48 while the width (7.31 inches) will be sized down to 6.69 inches. Speculation suggested that the thickness of the device will have decreased roughly 15% to ~7.5 to 8mm or even down to 7.2mm the same thickness of the iPad mini! While the weight which has increased a few grams since the iPad 2, could see a possible 25% weight loss to ~500 grams. To compensate for being thinner, the iPad’s battery pack will be decreased from 11,560 to a possibly 8,500 – 9,000 mAh.

Like the iPad mini introduced last year, the new iPad will feature thinner bezels alongside the front panel of the device like the iPad mini. Among other traits of the iPad mini is chamfered edges on the front, a round over on the rear shell and stereo speakers on the bottom of the device. As well as the anodized aluminum shell, from the regular aluminum shell. “It’s just a big iPad mini” they’ll say, and yet it is.

CPU

Last year, Apple included the A6X SoC (system-on-chip) ARM processor for the iPad 4. The A6X was based on the A6 chip found in the iPhone 5 with an extra increase in speed to power the massive retina display. This year the iPad 5 will include the new dual core A7X chip, to push forward to 64-bit computing. The A7X will also bring PowerVR’s series 6 ‘rogue’ graphics just like the iPhone 5s.

Just to give you an idea, PowerVR G6430 the graphics in the iPhone 5s according to Apple is twice as fast compared to the previous generation iPhone 5 graphics. It could be a possibility that Apple will bump up to PowerVR’s G6630 graphics, which is 60% faster than series 5 graphics. G6630 being 20% faster than G6430 and that beautiful retina display will need all the extra power it can get. PowerVR series 6 will also bring OpenGL 3.0 graphics, which is second to none right now on mobile and desktops.

Sonny Dickson reports that Apple will not including 1GB of RAM like last year. But instead will be doubling it to 2GB with the A7X and not just any RAM but LPDDR3 which is more power efficient and slightly faster than LPDDR2 RAM. Despite A downgrade to a smaller battery pack, the iPad will still achieve the same 10 hour battery life that Apple promises every year.

Display

iPad 4 DisplayThe iPad 5 will still include the same 9.7″ display with he same 264 PPI with 2056 by 1536 resolution. The display will also feature in-cell technology that compacts the digitizer, touchscreen, LCD and glass into one layer. Previously, layers were separated on the iPad 4, and these layers needed to be laminated together at the factory. Now the display can be millimeters thinner and lose some grams. The display will be just as bright and just as amazing as the years before.

Sensors

With the iPhone 5S Apple included a coprocessor, designed to take a load off of the device’s main processor. This coprocessor called “M7″ combines the device’s accelerometers, three axis gyroscope and digital compass in one. Phil Schiller, announced that the M7 will enable the “next generation” health and fitness apps.

Granted the iPhone is better at being a fitness device than the iPad, but it’s not just for fitness. Before device movements were processed by the power-hungry main processor, now the M7 can process your movements more efficiently than the A7. And that’s not all, the M7 can tell when the device hasn’t moved to slow down certain activities like network pinging for example. A remarked piece of technology and we didn’t even know it but the M7 is really the basis for the parallax effect in iOS 7.

Touch ID

Touch ID

Apple introduced another new sensor with the iPhone 5s this year called “Touch ID”, a biometric fingerprint scanner. Touch ID doesn’t necessarily make your device more secure but more convenient. Instead of having to type in a passcode to unlock your device, you just place your finger on the home button that acts as the scanner itself and the device will unlock. Touch ID also makes it possible to make purchases from the iTunes or App Store with your fingerprint.

However, reports surface that Touch ID on the iPhone 5s is suffering from supply constraints. Perhaps Touch ID will be an exclusive feature of the iPhone 5s this year and won’t be making it to the iPad 5 or mini 2 this year. However what we believe is that, the A7X processor, based off of the A7 would include the new module called “Security Enclave” that is used to encrypt and store your fingerprints saved by Touch ID. Does Apple disable Security Enclave for the A7X, get rid of it or add Touch ID?

iPad mini 2nd Generation

The second generation iPad was named the “iPad 2″ before moving to the “new iPad” and “4th generation iPad“. The 2nd generation iPad mini will either be called the “second generation iPad mini” or iPad mini 2 for short.

The iPad mini 2 is a dilemma, not much has been known about the device physically. From a design sense, the iPad mini 2 will likely not be changing much at all. What’s important this generation is the internal upgrades.

CPU

Last year, the iPad mini included the iPhone 4S’s and iPad 2′s internals with the same A5 and half a gig of RAM. This year, Apple is suspected to upgrade not to the Apple designed A6 chip this year but the new A7 chip from the iPhone 5s.

With the possibility of Apple including the older A6 to lower costs, in the smaller iPad than does that mean Apple will not include Touch ID? Or will Apple revise the A6 chip for the smaller iPad to include Secure Enclave? Including the A6 would mean that the iPad mini 2 would see the obvious RAM increase to 1GB of RAM but that doesn’t necessarily mean the upgrade to the faster standard of LPDDR3 RAM without a revision too.

Another challenge with the A6 is that 64 bit computing won’t be included. The new standard for processors. The graphics are another thing too. The A6 includes PowerVR’s tri-core SGX 543MP3 graphics, while the A6X included the quad-core PowerVR’s SGX 554MP4, the graphics of yesteryear. Does Apple revise the A6 or A6X to include the newer G6430 or better graphics as well?

Revising the A6 for Secure Enclave, faster RAM, 64 bit architecture and new graphics would be serious research and development, all of that means money and lots of it. It wouldn’t make much sense for a “lower-budget” device to cost so much to make. With all of this revision, they’ve essentially created an A7 inside an A6. I hope you’re thinking what I’m thinking.

We’d figure if Apple upgrades to the A7 then the motion coprocessor, the sidekick processor for the A7 is a must. The M7 combines what used to be three separate chips into one. Meaning there is slightly extra room for a slightly bigger battery. With the iPhone 5c and 5s, Apple increased the battery roughly 5 and 10% respectively. It may not mean much but who would deny a bigger battery?

Display

ipad display

The original iPad mini was not perfect. The device just lacked the standard in mobile displays. Where was the retina display? The iPad mini was “essentially” an iPad 2 in a smaller package, which happened to lack a retina display as well. The device carried the same 1024 by 768 resolution as the iPad 2 and 1st generation but 163 PPI instead of 132 PPI. Interestly enough 163 PPI is the same pixels per inch as non-retina iPhone displays.

It makes perfect sense that Apple is planning a retina iPad mini, but it unclear if this is the second or third generation. With the retina iPad Apple doubled the resolution of the display to 2056 by 1536 at 264 PPI. With the iPad mini 2, if retina enabled at the same 2056×1536 resolution would be 324 PPI. Just under the retina enabled iPhones at 326 pixels per inch. Doubling the pixel count would be less work for developers as they’ve already worked with the resolution, which is why 1024×768 worked so well.

Graphics and battery life are determining factors for a retina display. Is PowerVR’s SGX 543MP3 graphics enough to power the 7.9″ retina display without skipping a beat? Can G6430 or better be efficient enough to last Apple’s standard of 10 hours? If and when there is ever a retina iPad mini, for sure it will be called the “iPad mini with Retina display”.

Radios

As for the internal radios, both the iPad mini 2 and iPad 5 will carry the same for Wi-Fi networking 802.11n chip with support for both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies. Apple’s supplier for Wi-Fi is Broadcom, which sell the BCM4334, which is used already in devices like the iPad 4 and newer devices like the iPhone 5s. Included the in the same chip is Bluetooth 4.0 LE and an FM radio receiver. Reluctantly Apple isn’t ready to advance to 802.11ac or “Gigabit Wi-Fi” this year or we would have seen it with the iPhone 5s.

In the cellular and Wi-Fi based model, the iPad 5 will expand its LTE support to more countries and carriers with a wider support of LTE bands. Again, with like the Wi-Fi chip, the iPad 5 will house the same LTE chip MDM9615M found in the iPad 4, iPhone 5 and 5s. Meaning the device won’t be seeing an increase in LTE speeds that LTE adavnce promises this year. The receiver, the backbone for LTE bands on the other hand will be bumped up to Qualcomm’s WTR1605L receiver. The new receiver packs the 7 cellular standards in one chip including LTE FDD and TDD and if your carrier doesn’t support LTE yet, UMTS, EV-DO, CDMA 1x, TD-SCDMA, GSM/EDGE will still work.

Cameras

For two years now, Apple has included a 5MP camera with f/2.4 aperture in their tablets. Photography isn’t that important on iPad than it is on the iPhone. Could it be that Apple will continue with the 5MP iSight camera slightly tweaking it or instead jump to the 8MP shooter on the iPhone 5 or 5c or the improved iPhone 5s camera?

True Tone flash or the dual LED flash on the iPhone 5s, won’t be making it to the iPad, it just isn’t practical. The front-facing camera, FaceTime HD camera will be seeing a slight improvement to 1280 by 960 resolution and improved backside illumination which improves low-light photography. Other than that there isn’t much to improve on for the iPads cameras.

Finishes

[​IMG]The iPad 5 and mini 2 will arrive for sure in two metal finishes unlike the new iPhone 5s which is available in three metal finishes. Apple will be dropping the slate model, like they’ve done recently with the new iPhone and iPods and replace it with the lighter colored “Space Grey” model. However there could be a slight chance that Apple will introduce a gold version of at least one of the devices as well, to keep in style with the iPhone.

Accessories

Following the iPhone 5c and 5s announcement, Apple announced a pair of new iPhone docks for the respective new iPhones. Reluctantly Apple didn’t release a lightning dock for the iPhone 5 last year, or even for the iPad or iPod touch. The new dock(s) for the iPad 5 and iPad mini 2 will allow you to charge and sync your iPad through the lightning port on the dock. iPad Smart CoverUsually Apple sells the dock for $35 US retail. While were on the subject of docks, the iPad keyboard dock, an original iPad accessory needs a refresh.

Apple also launched two new cases for the iPhones, the iPads will also be receiving new cases too. The popular Smart Cover, that was redesigned for the mini will get redesigned for the full size iPad. Last year the iPad mini included a redesigned Smart Cover with a metal hinge covered in fabric to minimize scuffs, and three panels instead of four.

The Smart Case, which protects both the rear of the device and it’s screen will be getting a similar face lift alongside the iPad 5′s design and possibly the iPad mini 2 will finally get its own Smart Case too. Both new cases like always will come in both leather and polyurethane fabrics for the full size iPad, but the iPad mini’s cases may only be available in polyurethane fabrics. The cases will be available in several colors similar to iOS 7 and include a PRODUCT(RED) version as well. The Smart Case and cover will retail for both iPads for $55 and $39 respectively, while the leather Smart Cover will be yours for $79.

Pricing and Release Date

Last year the iPad mini and 4th generation iPad was announced on October 23rd and the Wi-Fi only models were released on November the 2nd. After several weeks, the cellular 4G models were released. The price is the iPad mini were sold for $329 for 16GB, $429 for 32GB and $529 for the 64GB model. The cellular connected device sold for an extra $130. The iPad 4th generation were sold for $499, $599, $699 and $799 for 16/32/64/128GB and an extra $130 for the 4G model. It is unlikely the prices will change for the iPad mini 2 and 5th generation iPad this year.

In a similar appearance of the iPhone 5s packaging with color matched wallpaper, the new iPads will have a photo of the front of the device rather than the side view of the device to show off iOS 7. In the box you’ll find your standard lightning cable, quick manual and the USB wall adapter.

ipad-mini-pack3

What do you think of the new iPad 5th generation and iPad mini 2? The iPad 5, which will feel substantially different from previous generations such as the iPad 3 in terms of speed, weight and overall dimensions. The mini, the little brother of the iPad will be all about speed this year and maybe just maybe an eye-catching display.

Do you plan on upgrading to any new iPad this year?

 

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