Amid the iPhone 5 madness over the past few weeks, it seems everyone has forgotten about the iPad Mini, the other device originally rumored to be unveiled at Apple’s media event in San Francisco last month. However, it looks like the yet-unannounced 7.85-inch iPad is finally getting some renewed attention, now that we’re in the month that the device was expected to launch (October) and now that we have a new video showing a mock-up of the tablet’s alleged design. The video can be found below.
On Friday, Japanese Apple blog Macotakara posted photos and video of an alleged mock-up of the rumored iPad Mini, which includes many of the same features we've seen from similar prototypes and preproduction cases of the new iOS device designs. However, this video’s iPad Mini lacked one big design feature that had been in the previous videos, which was the black strip at the top of the backplate, which signifies cellular capabilities.
Even though the iPad Mini in this video is clearly a dummy model and not a fully functioning tablet -- the screen is obviously a piece of paper with printed icons behind a plastic screen -- if the shell is in fact real, it’s possible that the iPad Mini may release without cellular capabilities.
While this is a possibility, it’s not very likely the iPad will be Wi-Fi only. There’s a good chance Apple will sell a Wi-Fi-only version in addition to other models that accommodate cellular and LTE, rather than forcing users to find a Wi-Fi hotspot to use their new mini tablets. After all, old alleged prototypes of the iPad Mini showed that black strip to house cellular components, so it's possible there are in fact two different designs.
Besides the black strip for cellular capabilities, the other features in this particular video look to align well with our previous reports of the iPad Mini’s size, shape and form factor, including its thinner side bezels, its 7.85-inch screen and its Lightning dock connector on the bottom. We don't know the exact features or specs Apple has packed into its mini iPad -- Apple refuses to comment on rumors or speculation -- but we nevertheless have a pretty good idea of what Apple has designed for its iPad Mini. Here’s a breakdown of the features and tech specs we’re expecting to see from Apple’s first 7-inch tablet when it’s eventually released, quite possibly later this month:
On Aug. 14, Apple rumors site 9 to 5 Mac discovered a pair of schematics originally posted on ThinkiOS in July, which perfectly matched up with what the company had originally reported. The schematic said the iPad Mini would measure 7.3 mm thick, 134.73mm wide and 200.13mm long.
While we believe these rumors to be true, another report from Gotta Be Mobile in July featured "exclusive" photos of what it believed to be an engineering sample of the iPad Mini design, which revealed many possible features of this tiny tablet. Gotta Be Mobile's Shawn Ingram said the engineering sample photos came from a "trusted source inside the Apple supply chain" in Asia.
According to Ingram, the photos suggest the iPad Mini would be much wider and a little taller than the Nexus 7, Google's recently introduced 7-inch tablet, and it would be slightly thinner than Apple's third-generation "new" iPad. Here's Ingram with the details:
"What we've found, using a pixel count, is that the iPad Mini should be around 213.36mm tall and about 143.67mm wide. This 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."
Skinny Side Bezels
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."
You can check out examples of the skinnier side bezels in the photo gallery.
From a screen perspective, Gotta Be Mobile's "exclusive" photos didn't show any etchings to signify the size of the screen itself, but most believe Apple's iPad Mini display will stretch 7.85 inches.
One would assume the iPad Mini would boast a Retina Display -- a high-density screen where the individual pixels cannot be discerned with the naked eye -- but word is the iPad Mini will also feature an IGZO display -- which stands for indium gallium zinc oxide -- made by Sharp Inc. Sharp's IZGO displays can be fitted for extremely thin hardware devices and can reportedly handle 330 ppi, which would be incredible since the new iPad can only achieve 264 ppi. However, 330 ppi would make it competitive with the brand-new Amazon Kindlewhite, which features a similar pixel density. IZGO displays are also said to feature better brightness than most LCD screens on the market, so while the display resolution is still unknown, it's possible Apple could pack in plenty of pixels into this 7-inch wonder.
The iPad Mini will definitely be Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0-friendly, but what about cellular connections? The new iPad was the first Apple device to feature LTE, likely done as a test run for the next iPhone, but Apple has every reason to include LTE in the iPad Mini.
Adding LTE gives Apple an excuse to give the iPad Mini more pricing tiers, and higher tiers at that. The new iPad is expensive with just Wi-Fi, costing between $499 and $699. If you add LTE, however, the new iPad costs between $629 and $829, which works out incredibly well for Apple and either Verizon or AT&T. Hopefully, by the time the iPhone 5 and iPad Mini launch, more LTE carriers will sign on so the rates go lower, even if the price of entry stays the same.
Earlier this summer, most major news outlets reported on Apple’s plans to slim down the traditional dock connector across all iOS devices, and that’s exactly what happened. Apple’s SVP of marketing Phil Schilller told a packed house in San Francisco on Sept. 12 that its new Lightning dock connector, which is 80 percent smaller than the 30-pin dock connector used in the original iPods, iPhones and iPads, will be the connector “for the next decade.” In other words, the iPad Mini will definitely feature this new 8-pin port.
On Aug. 3, a rumor swept the Web saying the iPad Mini wouldn't feature a rear camera. The report was only supported by a set of photos posted on the Chinese social network Weibo, which most experts said were "also 99 percent likely to be fake." Trusted Apple source 9 to 5 Mac believes Apple will keep the front and rear cameras in the iPad Mini, although the exact specifications of the cameras are unknown.
If Apple builds the iPad Mini like it built the new iPad with Retina Display, the iPad Mini ought to feature a VGA-quality FaceTime camera on the front and a 5-megapixel iSight camera built with an ƒ/2.4 aperture and Apple's specialized five-element lens. The cameras ought to shoot 5-megapixel stills and record HD video in full 1080p.
Battery drain is typically an issue with Apple products, but amazingly, most Apple products get between seven and 10 hours of battery life. Nothing is truly known about the iPad Mini's battery, but assuming the tablet has a Retina Display, Apple will likely feature an identical, if not slightly smaller, version of the 42.5-watt-hour rechargeable lithium-polymer battery featured in the new iPad.
Apple always promises 10 hours of battery life on its products, and the iPad Mini will definitely be able to accomplish that bare minimum. What's yet to be determined is how much more battery life, if any, the iPad Mini will have over its larger predecessors.
We might see the same 42.5-watt-hour battery, or maybe a 40-watt-hour battery, or possibly even a 35-watt-hour-battery. Whichever solution helps the iPad Mini accomplish 10 hours of Wi-Fi surfing and 9 hours of Web surfing, Apple will go with. It would be an added bonus if the iPad Mini could squeeze out more battery life and get maybe 11 or 12 hours, and still be cheaper than all previous iPads.
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, or it will jumpstart the iPad Mini with the all-new A6 chip, which debuted with the iPhone 5 on Sept. 12. The A6 is a custom-built chip from Apple, which is not only 22 percent smaller than the A5 and A5X chips, but it’s also twice as fast and has twice the graphics performance. Better yet, the A6 is far more power efficient, contains 1GB of RAM, and makes handling duties like memory, streaming, compressing and decompressing information, and activities like photo-taking and running multiple apps simultaneously an absolute breeze.