Apple’s ‘iPad mini’: A last-minute rumor roundup

October 22, 2012

Apple’s planning an event Tuesday with the promise that it has a “little more” to show its devoted fans. Speculation to this point has been clear on one thing: Apple’s teasing tag­line is almost surely meant to refer to a smaller iPad. Here’s a last-minute look at the rumors that are still standing ahead of the event Tuesday.

Screen: The screen on the smaller iPad is expected to be a 7.85-inch display, which would make it slightly larger than the other mini tablets on the market right now. The device is not expected to have the retina display of the latest iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch, signaling that it’s not meant to be a replacement for the top of the tablet product line.

Specs: The iPad mini is also expected to have the A5 chip that powers the iPad 2 rather than the A6 chip in Apple’s latest gadgetry. It’s expected to have at least 8 GB of on-board memory, which would put it in line with its competitors such as the Amazon Kindle Fire and Google Nexus 7.

Connectivity: There’s a bit of a split on this point — will Apple add in cellular connectivity or stick to a WiFi-only tablet and follow the lead of Amazon, Google and Barnes & Noble’s smaller tablets. Samsung has cellular models of its smaller tablets, so Apple won’t be the first to add in 3G or 4G connectivity, but it would move the market forward.

Materials: The new iPad is expected to be designed around a central point — lightness — and may have taken some design cues from Apple’s latest iPhone. Respected Apple blogger John Gruber thinks that Apple may even call the new tablet the iPad Air, though he wouldn’t “bet against” the iPad mini name either.

Price: This is an all-important attribute for the iPad mini’s success moving forward; estimates on Apple’s price have varied a lot since rumors started churning in earnest.

Right now, there’s been some consensus around the $250 mark, which would price the iPad mini below the latest iPod Touch but more in line with the $200 price point of the Kindle Fire and Google Nexus 7.

There is also speculation, however, that the iPad mini could cost as much as $329. That’s the price that 9 to 5 Mac is reporting as we get closer to the event, meaning that Apple would stay out of any kind of price war. The iPad has been a very well-priced device since its launch, but Apple certainly isn’t known overall for being low-cost. We’ll have to see what the company comes up with on Tuesday.

Release date: The scuttlebutt is that Apple will be releasing the newest iPad the Friday after its release event, giving the tablet a Nov. 2 release date, courtesy of TechCrunch.

Any surprises?: Apple’s been a very leaky ship lately (see: iPhone 5 announcement) but there are still plenty of attributes about the iPad mini that are still up in the air. Apart from its existence, that is.

Price speculation aside, there’s also been some question, thanks to a post from Apple Insider, as to whether the company will release three separate WiFi, 3G and LTE versions.

There’s also quite a bit of chatter that the event may have a heavy focus on education, thanks to a report from Bloomberg. Apple has made big pushes to be in schools in the past, and has made some recent, interesting moves in the textbook space. Again, we’ll have to see if Apple proposes its smaller tablets would fit well in students’ hands.

Related stories:

Apple iPad mini rumors hum along

Apple’s mini iPad: Three things it needs

Apple sends out invites to Oct. 23 event, believed to be announcement of smaller iPad

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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