I never thought I would say this but rumors and leaks around Apple’s product have started to become pretty valid. In our recent piece: iPhone 5 – the most leaked iPhone 5, we showed you just how many rumos and leaks have turned out into real features of the iPhone 5, probably making Tim Cook fret in his chair. Now, it doesn’t makes sense to assume that suddenly, Apple found a magic solution and discovered all the persons that spilled the beans.

iPad Mini to start the war on Kindle Fire HD and Nexus 7

And if the leaks are still happening both at the Apple itself and at the factories in China, then we should compile all the data that we have so far on the iPad Mini or mini iPad, take it as you wish. One feature we could be guessing on our own, without even having to rely on leaks and is the size. We tried to explain how much the tablet size matters and what size suits you better, thus discovering that a mid-tablet should have between 7 to 7.85 inch, the latter being the possible size for a smaller iPad.

The iPad Mini – we recount all the spilled beans

The launch of the Nexus 7, Kindle Fire HD, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7 inch version and even the Huawei MediaPad – all these tablets seem to have made a fact clear – the standard mid-tablet size is 7 inch. In a small poll featured on our website, we found our readers to prefer the 7.85 inch over the 7 inch one. Therefore, right from the start, with its size, the iPad Mini could be different from the competition and I guess it will be like that. But let’s just wait (less than one month?) and see.


I’ve already given a basic, empiric introduction to what I think will be the size of the iPad Mini – 7.85 inch, but let’s see how have we reached this number. Apparently, it all started quite a while ago, back in 2009, when the original iPad wasn’t even launched.

The size

Back then, Apple was trying 5 different screen versions – 4, 7, 9, 10, 12. So far, they’ve picked the 10 for the iPad, and the 4 for the iPhone 5. I doubt there will be a Mega iPad or Smaller iPad, so let’s just assume 7 inch is what they had in mind back then. More evidence comes from the iLounge website, who actually said, back in 2009, that Apple initially wanted to launch a 7 inch tablet.

Version 1 was designed with a 7” screen, which was judged to be too small.

Half an year later, in April 2010, the already established DigiTimes, as always, citing “upstream component sources”, said that Apple had already placed orders for a display between 5 to 7 inch that would be priced below the $400 mark. You should realize that big companies don’t decide on the last 2-3 months that they want a product made. I suspect that the iPhone 5’s screen, for example, has been planned at least 2 years ago, therefore such is the case with other Apple products.

iLounge publishes another article claiming that Apple is already readying a 7 inch tablet and already the first mock-ups started to appear. Taiwan-based Economic Daily News claims that Apple will be shipping a smaller tablet with the same size – 7 inch. GigaOm came with a report from Rodman & Renshaw, claiming the 7 inch tablet will have front and back facing cameras. Then, a lot of rumors followed from various sources, suggesting the same – 7 inch size. The next rumor that brings more details comes from AppleInsider:

Apple’s next-generation iPad will sport a 7-inch high-resolution Retina Display, a camera, and 128GB of capacity

The iPad Mini rumors get more serious as Reuters joins the rumor mill saying Apple is preparing a smaller tablet. Reuters also talks about the fact that Steve Jobs never liked the idea of the iPad Mini and openly rejected it. But the tablet market has evolved and there is not only the iPad anymore. If you ask me, I always thought that 10 inch is too much for me, and I’m sure many will agree.

7.85 inch, slightly bigger than the average mid-tablet

Now, with all these rumors piling up, it seems that Tim Cook will listen to consumers and respond to the competition. The first, most notable rumor from 2011 suggests that a 7.85 inch size is actually on the cards. Since then, it seems that the 7.85 inch is the most prefered version. Also, that’s when we hear about the $200 price mark. Taiwan’s United Daily News reports somewhere in October, 2011 claim that Samsung, AU Optronics have sent 7.85-inch screen samples to Apple.

Near the end of 2011, the same Digitimes returns with what appears a rumor that’s more accurate, at least from where we stand now. The report claims that the launch is planned on the Q4 of 2012 and will be direct attack on Amazon’s Kindle Fire. The Wall Street Journal joins the “rumoriada” as the second most important outlet to report on the iPad Mini. But this time, the reports cover the 8 inch version, but when you think about it, it makes sense. A 7.85 inch tablet is more of 8 inch-ish than a 7 inch-ish one.

February 2012 was there with a research firm from Taipei, TrendForce, claiming that a smaller iPad was already in the testing stage. DigiTimes returns with the 7.85 inch size, this time saying that the iPad Mini is in the “volume production” stage and will retail at the $249 to $299 prices. Then, 2012 was literally bombarded with lots of rumors and leaks, just like it happened with the iPhone 5. We will highlight below the most important findings:

  • “Apple is buying 7.1″ screens for smaller iPads” VentureBeat
  • “iPad mini size to be closer to Galaxy Note” Macotakara
  • “Apple has a 7.85-inch iPad prototype in its labs” TheVerge
  • “6 million iPad Mini in Q3 2012″ Kotaku
  • “52% of consumers surveyed by PriceGrabber said they’d buy an iPad Mini”
  • “Analyst predicts 7.85-inch iPad Mini for October” Pacific Crest
  • “New iPad Mini engineering sample photos” GottBeMobile
  • “Apple’s e-mail thread about a 7-inch iPad” Cnet )
  • “Apple to include ITO coating on iPad Mini” AppleInsider 
  • “Alleged iPad Mini cases reveal spot for rear camera” GizChina

iPad Mini – what it could be like

Apple has the iPod Touch, the iPad and the iPhone from where the iPad Mini could draw inspiration for its looks and innards, as well. There are slim chances that the iPad Mini, if it indeed sees the sunlight, will sport something very different or unseen on other Apple products. Therefore, it’s natural that the iPad Mini will come with similar features like its siblings. What you should understand is that the iPad Mini won’t be an iPad with “poorer” functions, it should be perceived as a different device and not just an “umbrella product” under the iPad name.

  • Lighting connector – this is already a sure thing that we will find in the iPad Mini, since the Lighting connector will replace the old standard. As much as you’ll hate it or love it right now, it is almost 100% sure we will find it in the iPad Mini. It’s definitely smaller, that’s for sure.
  • Ear Pods – the Ear Pods will have the same “fate” in the iPad Mini just as the Lightning connector. Since Apple praised its design so much, it’s obvious it didn’t make them exclusively for the iPhone 5. We are not yet convinced the sound experience is awesome, but it matters what Apple says, right?
  • Retina display – let’s get this straight, Retina Display is just another clever marketing name made up by Apple. This doesn’t mean it’s the best display on the market or that it can’t be achieved. Nonetheless, if Apple wants iPad Mini to be a success, it bettter endow it with Retina Display. If not, sales will have to suffer.
  • Much thinner – being smaller, people will expect it to be quite thin. Reports have it that it could be only 7.2 thin. Nexus 7 is 10.5 mm, so if Apple manages to “thin it down”, it will be a very pleasant surprise. They’ve managed to do it with the iPhone 5 (though not the thinnest smartphone in the world), let’s see what they can achieve with iPad Mini.
  • iOS 6 – the biggest breakthrough in iOS 6 was meant to be the maps feature, but there are already reports from frustrated users and rightfully so. But, we’re sure there are many other nice updates in the latest and greatest from Apple, so iOS 6 has been released just in time.
  • Cameras - taking pictures with a 10 inch tablet might seem real awkward, but it won’t appear that strange to take a few snaps with a smaller model, right? It will surely come with cameras, but I think there’s little hope for a 8 MP sensor, if you don’t want to pay too much for it, but, who knows?
  • Price – the iPad Mini won’t have a similar price with its competition, I think it will be more expensive, even if it will have similar features. Therefore, I think it will be priced somewhere betwee $249 and $299. Apple can’t risk to have an iPad Mini with similar flaws like the Kindle Fire HD.
  • Internal storage – 32 or 64 GB would be just too much for a “small” tablet like the iPad Mini could be. Therefore, I’ll assume Apple will release the the iPad Mini in 2 versions: 8 and 16 GB. Thus, the 8GB version would be priced at $249 and the bigger one at $299.
  • A5/A6 chip – recent reports showed that Apple’s own customization of the ARM technology is pretty impressive in the A6. But the A5 chip remains impressive enough and you can see it in action on the latest iPod Touch. But if Apple decides to go with the A6 chip, then you can take my word for it – the iPad Mini will sell like crazy.

 

Even if Steve Jobs was initially opposed to this project, Apple can’t no longer ignore the rise of the middle-sized tablet. Apple might have started the true tablet market, but being the first one does not assure you success (take Kodak, for example). Sadly, Apple is not releasing anymore revolutionary products, but rather tries to please its loyal fanbase with gradual, stable updates. People want the iPad Mini, they want something good enough to compete with models that are already on the market. And Apple has a good chance to release something awesome and ahead of its competition. Can they pull it off?

Update:  the respected Wall Street Journal said that production for the iPad Mini has already begun. The smaller iPad will have a 7.85-inch liquid-crystal display which will be made by Sharp and AU Optronics. Apple will face strong competition in the market, with such names as Amazon, Google and Barnes and Nobles to fight against. If WSJ reports that production has begun for iPad Mini, CNN says that Apple will send out invitations on 10 October for a special event one week later. iPad Mini is almost here.

Update 2: apparently, iPad Mini prices have leaked, if we are to believe to yet another rumor! For the Wi-Fi-only 8GB iPad Mini, the prices could start at 249 euros ($322). The price will go up for bigger storage versions –  16GB, 32GB, and 64GB, reaching up to $650. It’s pretty expensive, right?

Update 3: the event on October 23 has been confirmed! Apple has sent again press invites saying: “we’ve got a little more to show you”. Does this mean that almost everything already got leaked, just like it happened with the iPhone 5? Or, the “little more” refers to the “little iPad” that is on the cards? We are less than one week away of finding that out.

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is the Managing Editor of Technically Personal. When he has some extra-time, he writes about Windows 8 apps and reviews them on Wind8Apps. Believes that technology is the main engine of civilization. Send him a tweet or make him your Facebook friend