Now that Apple has officially confirmed the existence, time, date and location of its much-anticipated media event in California, many are now wondering when Apple will release the "iPad Mini," the heavily-rumored tablet and the likely centerpiece of this scheduled media event, to its store shelves.
Apple's invitations released Tuesday said the media event will take place at the California Theatre in San Jose, Calif., and start at 10 a.m. PST (1 p.m. EST). The invitation included a single tagline, "We've got a little more to show you."
Apple has neither confirmed nor denied the existence of its rumored “iPad Mini” – Apple’s eternal policy is to never comment on rumors or speculation – but if Apple’s history is any indicator of its future, we will most likely see the 7.85-inch iPad Mini released by Friday, Nov 2.
Given how Apple has strayed from tradition here, choosing to unveil the device on a Tuesday rather than a Wednesday, it’s possible Apple may move up the iPad Mini’s release date to the Friday of that week, on Oct. 26. The chances of Apple releasing the iPad Mini on that day, however, is highly unlikely, given all the attention Microsoft will have on that very day as it launches Windows 8 and its first-ever tablet, the 10.6-inch Surface.
Apple has historically released new iDevices on the Friday morning nine days after the Wednesday unveiling event; even though the Oct. 23 media event is on a Tuesday, there’s still a more-than-likely chance Apple will follow its own pattern and wait a full 10 days to release the iPad Mini, just to build up enough hype for the product.
In all likelihood, Apple will release the new Macs and new iPad Mini on separate days to reduce the chance of an Apple Store Armageddon, even though the store lines should be nothing like the ones for the iPhone 5. If this is the case, Apple may announce the new Macs but release them later in November – we’ve had no indication that current production on these computers will be enough to satisfy first-week demand numbers – while the more-ready iPad Mini will get its debut on the first Friday in November.
Apple will reportedly unveil several products in addition to the iPad Mini on Oct. 23, including a new Mac Mini, a completely redesigned iMac, and a new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display. If Apple unveils as many products as they’re expected to, there’s absolutely no way they will all be released at once. Here’s a what we know about each product, based on rumors, reports and patent filings for these devices.
1. iPad Mini: On July 10, a photo set of the alleged iPad Mini suggested the mini tablet would be much wider and a little taller than the Nexus 7, Google's 7-inch tablet, and it would be slightly thinner than Apple's third-generation "new" iPad. Gotta Be Mobile believes the iPad Mini will measure about 213.36mm tall and 143.67mm wide, which is "approximately two-thirds of the size of the new third-generation iPad." (The new iPad is 185.67mm wide, 241.3mm tall, and 9.39mm thick.)
Since the very first photo set of the iPad Mini surfaced, various other photos have only confirmed details, features and tech specs about the upcoming device. Sources close to Apple believe the new iPad Mini's screen will stretch further to the face's edges. From 9 to 5 Mac's original report:
"The lack of bezel on the side will not allow you to carry it like you hold a full-size iPad when in portrait mode without triggering some multi-touch on the display," said Seth Weintraub. "Perhaps Apple has some software to dull the side touches when in portrait mode. But, really, this is unnecessary. You will need to hold it from the back more like you hold a phone (or one of those 7-inch tablets above). This is not hard, and in fact, it is the de facto way I tend to hold a Nexus 7 even though it has a bezel."
We haven't seen many reports on the processor that will drive the activities on the new iPad Mini, but we presume Apple will either use the same dual-core A5X chip with quad-core graphics used to power the new iPad's display -- this is most likely -- or it will jumpstart the iPad Mini with the rumored A6 chip, which may be unveiled in the new iPhone, too. That said, if Apple did put a quad-core A6 processor in the new iPhone, it would be unlikely to also appear in the new iPad. These chips have not yet been proven or popularized yet, and that Apple would be taking a very big chance on a relatively untested chip. Apple loves to push the limits, but only with reason. Pushing the A6 like this would be a little too crazy, even for "the crazy ones."
The iPad Mini will almost definitely feature a Retina Display, front and rear cameras (iSight and FaceTime), and the new Lightning dock connector (like the iPhone 5).
2. 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro: Before Apple shocked the WWDC audience with a completely-redesigned MacBook Pro with Retina Display in June, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted Apple would unveil such a notebook, and he even correctly forecast most of the features, including a lighter and slimmer form factor than the current MacBook Pros, the lack of a disc drive, and the Retina Display.
After WWDC saw the release of the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display, Kuo followed up on his earlier report by sharing a new note with AppleInsider, in which he described how Apple will follow up the 15-inch model with a smaller, 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display, to be released in early October. Kuo had actually mentioned the 13-inch model in his initial report, adding that the basic computer would sell at $1,199. Apple starts selling the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display at $2,199.
To give credence to these rumors, just yesterday, a user posted cell phone images of alleged Mac computer parts coming off the line at Foxconn on a WeiPhone.com forum, mentioning a 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro was currently in production.
“Apple will improve on the production technique in D2 line,” the poster wrote, referencing the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro as the D2 to its younger sibling, internally dubbed D1.
“Apple will launch the 13-inch rmbp. Ghosting and thermal issues will be fixed but internals and design will be similar to 15-inch rmbp,” the poster said.
Just one day after the WeiPhone user posted the photos and description for the new 13-inch MacBook Pro, trusted Apple news source 9to5Mac reported on Apple’s intentions to release a 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro at its iPad Mini event this month, citing “a consistently reliable source at a high-profile US retailer.”
The 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro is expected to have the same general design and infrastructure as the 15-inch model, but be sold at a slightly lower price point, likely below the $2,000 sweet spot for desktop computer users.
3. New iMac: On that same WeiPhone.com forum thread, the poster, who claims to have a brother-in-law working in Foxconn building the new Mac computers, said the iMac has been completely redesigned, and from side to side, you “almost cannot see the new iMac’s thickness.” The poster compared the iMac to a drop of water with “tetragonal” elements, even though the computer still has that trademark “chin” below its giant display.
“My uncle has seen the fully assembled iMac but recently unable to take a picture of it,” the WeiPhone user wrote in a separate post. “If he did take the picture, I will update this thread.”
The poster also noted that the display has been completely redesigned, which could mean the new iMac has a Retina Display. The poster said the display is a “very pretty special glass glued directly” to the computer, rather than a display manufactured separately from the machine, but the poster did not mention the words “Retina” in his post.
“The new iMac is using a special ‘glue’ to glue the display to the frame and is facing very strict quality control,” the poster said. “Products from Foxconn is having a lot of issues. In this case, after the glue dried, there will be minor air gaps.”
According to an old benchmark from Geekbench makers Primate Labs, the new iMac, described as “iMac 13,2” internally, reportedly runs on a 3.4 GHz Core i7-3770 quad-core processor with 4GB of 1600 MHz RAM, and run on OS X Mountain Lion. In August, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuoreleased his own product launch schedule, pegging the release of a new iMac in mid-October.
4. New Mac Mini: On Oct. 15, trusted Apple news site 9to5Mac said Apple will release a new version of its Mac Mini computer at the Oct. 23 event, including two standard configurations with different storage and processor options, as well as a third model that runs the OS X Server. Citing sources close to Apple, 9to5Mac said the new Mac Minis will begin shipping immediately after the announcement.
Apple last updated the Mac Mini in 2010, endowing the computer with its signature unibody aluminum enclosure and faster processors; the processors were updated once again last summer. In all likelihood, the new Mac Minis will feature the newest-generation chipsets and new ports like USB 3.0.
5. iTunes 11: Eddy Cue, Apple’s SVP of Internet software, told a packed auditorium on Sept. 12 that a brand-new version of iTunes – iTunes 11 – would be released in late October; sounds like it’s going to be released just in time for the new iPad Mini event.
Jeff Robbin, Apple’s VP of consumer applications, showed off iTunes 11 at Apple’s iPhone event on Sept. 12.
“We’ve got a beautiful new edge-to-edge design where you can really focus on your music,” Robbin said. “When you click on your album, it expands in place and iTunes automatically analyzes the album cover to provide this beautiful themed experience.”
The redesign makes album artwork more beautiful and navigation substantially easier and more seamless, with easier playlist manipulation, new features like “Up Next,” and an all-new mini player with built-in search and playlists. In addition, like the App and iTunes Stores on the iOS platform, Apple has redesigned the iTunes Store for the Mac and PC to appear more like the popular iOS stores.
“The new iTunes will be available in late October,” Cue said. “We think you’re going to love it, and we can’t wait for you to get your hands on it.”
Apple has not specified a release date for iTunes 11, but the company will likely take this Oct. 23 event as an opportunity to launch the new music platform. In all likelihood, Apple will release the new service before the iPad Mini is released, probably by the end of the week on Friday, Oct. 26.