Apple iPad Mini 2 Rumors: Release Date May Reveal New 'Basic' Model With Low Price, Albeit Fewer Features

  @redletterdave on April 29 2013 12:26 PM

Apple is reportedly working on a sequel to the iPad mini that will introduce a Retina Display to its 7.9-inch frame, but one analyst believes the Cupertino, Calif.-based company will also debut another iPad mini in 2013, one with fewer features at a much lower price point.

The price of the 7.9-inch iPad mini, which was introduced to the world last Oct. 23, ranges from $329 to $659. According to a new research note from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has an excellent track record when it comes to Apple rumors, Apple will release an iPad mini that costs between $199 and $249, but the tablet will lack a rear camera and be powered by a generations-old dual-core A5 processor.

“Prior to the iPad mini 2 launch, Apple might roll out a more affordable iPad mini to compete with Android products,” Kuo said in his Sunday report (via MacRumors). “To cut costs, Apple might push for lower component prices, use a more advanced process to produce the A5 processor, simplify metal casing production, remove the rear camera, cut storage to 8GB and find more component suppliers to lower costs. We think this cheaper iPad mini retail for US$199~249.”

The iPad has dominated the tablet space since its introduction in 2010, but recent reports suggest Apple’s grip on the marketplace is slipping ever so slightly, most likely because Android-built tablets are cheaper than the iPad and iPad mini.

The iPad mini appeals to customers because it’s comparatively cheaper than Apple’s full-sized 9.7-inch iPad, which ranges in price from $499 to $929. That said, Apple is likely considering a cheap iPad mini to release alongside its iPad mini 2 simply because a cheap iPad would appeal to a wider range of income levels, even as the company continues to face questions of iPad mini sales cannibalizing other Apple products.

“I get asked about cannibalization a lot,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said during the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference in February. “The truth is we don't think about that. If we don't cannibalize, someone else will. In the case of iPad, the Windows PC market is huge, and there's a lot more there to cannibalize than there is of Mac. If a company ever begins to use cannibalization as a major factor in their decision-making, it's the beginning of the end.”

“Seems perfectly reasonable to me to have both iPad and iPad mini,” Cook added. “I think this is going to be the mother of all markets. Customers are voting, and they're buying.”

Apple doesn’t have many solutions for the low-end computer market -- the cheapest iPad mini is still $270 cheaper than Apple’s cheapest Mac and $670 cheaper than Apple’s cheapest laptop -- so introducing a simple iPad with older components at a lower price makes good business sense for both Apple and consumers.

Apple is reportedly pursuing a similar strategy with the iPhone. Since January, we’ve been hearing that Apple will release another iPhone besides its true iPhone 5 successor, the security-laden iPhone 5S: The “low-cost” iPhone 6 is said to aim specifically at emerging markets in Asia by featuring cheaper-made parts at a cheaper price point for customers. Apple will reportedly release both phones simultaneously in September 2013; the company may similarly release both iPad mini successors at the same time, including the new basic model and the Retina iPad mini.

iPad Mini 2 Release Date Coming: What Features Can Customers Expect?

According to a report from investment news service BrightWire released in February, the iPad mini 2 will feature a 7.9-inch Retina Display with an identical resolution to the full-size iPad 4 with Retina Display. Apple has reportedly tapped Taiwan-based AU Optronics to develop the iPad mini 2’s Retina Display; it may or may not be made with Sharp’s proprietary IGZO technology, which can be fitted for extremely thin hardware devices and handle extremely high pixel densities.

The resolution on the alleged iPad Mini 2 is said to measure 2048 x 1536 pixels, which would be roughly four times the resolution of the first-generation iPad Mini. But by packing this many pixels into a smaller device, Apple actually boosts the density of the iPad Mini with Retina Display to 324 pixels per inch (ppi). As a frame of reference, the iPad 3 and 4 both have display densities of 264 ppi, while the iPhone 5 has a similar density of 326 ppi.

Besides the display, we don’t know much about the iPad mini 2, but we have seen a few interesting iPad patents for a built-in stand and backside controls for gaming.

According to Kuo’s Apple pipeline for 2013, Apple will release its iPad mini 2, along with the new basic iPad mini, in late September or early October.

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