IPhone 5 Release Date Approaches: Will Apple's Mini Tablet Outshine The Next-Generation Smartphone? [SPECS]

 @LisaEadicicco
on April 21 2012 2:22 PM

Production rumors surrounding Apple's upcoming iPhone 5 have been circulating ever since the new iPad was released. Apple has yet to unveil the new device or confirm whether it will launch in June or October, but the Cupertino-based company also has plans for a mini iPad.

With a next-generation iPhone and a new edition of the iPad rumored to be in production, Apple fans seem to have a lot to look forward to. However, it is unclear how both products will fare in the marketplace if they are to be released at the same time.

The latest rumors come from Asia, where some are saying that suppliers have received orders to produce components for six million mini iPad units. These are said to be released in the third quarter of 2012, and could provide some marketplace competition for the iPhone 5.

Chinese-language tech blog Netease reported that the supply chain for the iPad Mini has been finalized, and that the device will sell for between $249 and $299. The price gap is probably due to Apple's traditional three-version release, with 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB selections.

The website, which usually covers production-related news and rumors for consumer tech, began to speculate about what this could mean for other Apple products. The recently released iPad '3' and the highly anticipated iPhone 5 could each be affected by the launch of another device.

However, foreign analysts pointed out that if Apple launched a low price [for] the iPad Mini, most affected is probably the market share of more than 60 percent of the iPad, and may generate a crowding out effect size similar to the iPhone, the news site wrote.

According to ABC News, the company's late CEO never intended to release a mini iPad, and he had previously indicated that he was opposed to the idea of a smaller tablet.   

Steve Jobs had been quite outspoken about smaller tablets; during one earnings call he even said that a 7-inch tablet would be 'dead on arrival,' ABC News' Joanna Stern reported. On that same call, he said, 'While one could increase the resolution of the display to make up for some of the difference, it is meaningless unless your tablet also included sandpaper so that the user can sand down their fingers to around one quarter of their present size.'

Jobs was known to have said more than once that a smaller tablet could be a bit baffling to customers, as Michael Nace of the iPhone 5 News Blog writes. A mini-tablet could result in a tablet-smartphone middle ground, with some users confused about which side to choose. This is the territory that Samsung is attempting to explore with its Galaxy Note, which has come to be known as a phablet -- a hybrid of the two gadget types. Nace also writes that Jobs seemed to be hinting that a device such as a mini iPad could in fact hurt the iPhone and regular edition iPad's sales.

The cost of the components that go into creating iPads also makes it unclear whether or not the Mini iPad would be a profitable venture. ZDNet's Adrian Kingsley-Hughes writes that a mini iPad would make sense if the Cupertino-based company was having trouble selling its tablets, and it offered a breakdown of the prices involved in producing the product.

Hughes points out that the 16GB iPad 2 currently sells for $245, while this would be the starting price for Apple's Mini iPad. This tinier device would have a smaller screen and possibly a smaller battery, so what would compel one to purchase a smaller device for the same price?

If portability is an important characteristic for consumers, the next-generation smartphone may be a more viable option. However, for users that don't want to upgrade their current cellphone and are seeking a mobile device that is thinner and smaller than the newest iPad, the mini may be perfect. This could put some customers in a confusing spot, but only time will tell how both devices will fare.

The iPhone 5 is also said to feature in-cell technology, which means that the device's touch screen panels will be receiving an upgrade. The new display would result in a thinner, sleeker addition to the iPhone family. Other rumored features include 3-D capability and 4G LTE connectivity.

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