Over the last few months, the tech world has been buzzing with rumors suggesting that Apple will launch a smaller version of the iPad, unofficially dubbed the “iPad mini,” in days to come. And if latest reports are to be believed, the Cupertino tech giant is likely to send invites for an iPad mini-focused media event Wednesday, which is expected to be held at some point next week.
Reports said that the iPad mini would feature a new 7.85-inch screen and would be available at a maximum price tag of $250. The device is expected to be a direct competitor to the Google Nexus 7 tablet and Amazon’s new range of Kindle Fire devices as Apple is widely believed to have targeted the mid-range tablet market.
Given that its rival products are available for just $199, Apple’s iPad mini cannot afford to cost substantially more. With that in mind, what could be the possible tricks Apple might employ to keep the costs down? Well, this may include holding on to some of the iPad 2 components and withholding some features, including cellular networking.
The existing 9.7-inch iPad ships with a Wi-Fi only or a Wi-Fi + cellular option. However, a report published Tuesday by The Guardian claimed that this might not be the case with the upcoming iPad mini. The report said that initially the smaller iPad will be Wi-Fi only, similar to Google’s 7-inch Nexus tablet.
“Apple’s expected “iPad mini” will only come in a Wi-Fi version. [...] Industry sources indicated to the Guardian that they do not expect to see 3G-capable versions of the iPad mini,” said the report.
Here’s the reason why:
“That would allow Apple to produce it comparatively cheaply and to limit the top price of the product, while retaining mobile broadband connectivity for its pricier iPad line.”
As iDownloadBlog noted, a Wi-Fi only iPad mini would be comparable to Google’s Nexus 7 that also lacks cellular network support. However, when compared to Kindle Fire, Apple’s bet could be unfavorable to Amazon’s device that was also WiFi-only originally, but was revived with cellular networking recently.
The Guardian report also said citing industry sources that Apple could release a revised version of the current iPad with 4G connectivity compatible with the UK’s Everything Everywhere network and and sporting the new "Lightning" connector.
“Sources also indicated that they expect Apple to refresh the iPad line by following up the introduction of the iPhone 5, which is 4G-capable in the UK through Everything Everywhere's 1800MHz network – and from next September with Three – with revised versions using the same 1800MHz 4G chip and the new connector,” said the report.
Last Minute Design Change For iPad Mini
At a time when rumors of a next week iPad mini release are ramping up, Japanese blog Macotakara reported that one of Apple’s major equipment manufacturers had to stop production of the iPad mini cases due to some last minute changes in the device’s design.
According to Redmond Pie, given that a possible release time frame for the iPad mini is already around the corner, “it seems a little late in the day to be making such important design amendments.”
“If the invites start to land in inboxes tomorrow then we know that the design is nailed down,” the report added.