Like it or not, the iPad has become near synonymous with the word “tablet” over the past three years. Apple’s slate has been adopted by millions since its initial edition launched in early 2010, and it’s helped bring an entire new category of devices to the mainstream.
So when a new one launches, it’s a big deal. And on October 22, Apple is expected to roll out both the fifth version of its 9.7-inch iPad, and the second version of its 7.9-inch iPad mini. To say the announcements are anticipated is an understatement.
And while Apple CEO Tim Cook has made a point to control the amount of info leaks from his company, a number of details appeared to have slipped out the cracks over the last few months.
We can’t confirm nor deny most of the info that’s come out, so please, take it all with a grain of salt. But for now, here’s everything we think we know about the next iPad and iPad mini.
They’ll Be Announced on October 22
This one seems like a gimme. Apple already confirmed that it would hold an event on October 22, and although it didn’t specifically say what it’s doing, multiple reports have said that it will indeed showcase the two next-generation tablets.
We’ve been through this drill before. Just last month, the Cupertino company announced its eventual iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c with a similar teaser image, and the period before that was filled with a number of leaks about those two devices.
It doesn’t take a genius to put two and two together here. We’ll see the iPads next week, they’ll both run iOS 7, and they’ll probably come alongside new MacBook Pros and OS X 10.9 Mavericks.
The iPad mini Will Have a Retina Display…
This one’s gone a little bit back and forth over the past several months, but reports from The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and others say that the next iPad mini will assume the 2048×1536 ‘Retina’ display resolution of its bigger brother. Given that the biggest complaint about the current diminutive iPad is its relatively low-res screen, such a move would only make sense.
…But Its Launch Might Be Delayed…
Although the new iPads’ announcement date appears to be set in stone, when exactly the new slates will actually arrive on store shelves appears to be a little more unknown. Just a couple of weeks ago, Reuters cited people who work in Apple’s supply chain as saying that Retina iPad minis could either be delayed or available in limited quantities. It seems at least somewhat possible that a high-res iPad mini might not arrive in full force until early 2014.
…And Another Low-Res iPad mini Could Come Along With It
Complicating this conundrum is a rumor that says that Apple is working on another iPad mini that doesn’t come with a Retina display. 9to5Mac wrote back in July that such a device was being tested, and that it would come with an A6 processor (the chip that powers the iPhone 5, and a step above the current mini’s A5 processor) to make up for the lack of display upgrades.
9to5Mac made it clear that it couldn’t confirm this hypothetical device as a retail product, but if the rumored shipping troubles with the Retina iPad mini are true, a second mini may be a more feasible proposition.
The New iPad Will Look Like the iPad mini
Most leaks have suggested that the new iPad mini will look about the same as its predecessor, but the new 9.7-inch iPad appears to be in line for a physical overhaul. As The Wall Street Journal wrote in August, it seems like the next iPad will look just like a bigger iPad mini.
Noted leaker Sonny Dickson has posted several purported photos of the new iPad and iPad mini, and UnboxTherapy claims to have gotten its hands on the former in a video too. According to both sources, the new iPad does indeed look lighter and thinner, with narrower bezels and a more boxy shape that’s largely reminiscent of its little brother.
Dickson, UnboxTherapy and other outlets have noted that both new tablets will come in the same “Space Grey” color as the iPhone 5s. Rumors of the two sporting the same “champagne” gold color as the 5s are more varied, but it doesn’t seem as probable at the moment.
Both iPads Will Have Improved Specs
Duh. But we use such a vague header there because exactly how improved the new slates’ specs will be is still a little fuzzy.
The larger iPad is typically fitted with the best internals Apple has to offer, so it seems likely that the ‘iPad 5’ will sport the same 64-bit A7 processor and M7 motion coprocessor that was launched with the iPhone 5s.
Most reports have said as much, though a few others, like typically reliable KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, have speculated that it could run on a stronger ‘A7X’ chip of some sort. Expect the larger iPad 5 to be plenty powerful either way.
The iPad mini’s spec situation is where things are murkier. Remember that the current mini runs on an A5 chip that’s been around since the iPad 2 launched, so a jump to the brand new 64-bit A7 chip would be quite the upgrade.
Yet Sonny Dickson and others have said that the new mini will have just that. Kuo, meanwhile, believes it could even run that rumored A7X chip, which would theoretically help it power that rumored Retina display.
But as we said before, there might be two minis when all is said and done. And the new mini might not even have that high-res screen in the first place. Or it could have the Retina display, but not the brand new chip to go along with it.
Do you see where the murkiness is coming from yet?
If any of those scenarios come true, we could indeed be looking a new mini that runs the iPhone 5c’s A6 chip. The iPad 4’s A6X chip could be in play too, as Dutch site Mobileaks claims. Whatever the case, we know the iPad mini is going to get stronger; we just don’t know by how much yet.
Besides processors, Kuo expects both new iPads to have upgraded iSight cameras too. He believes that they’ll be bumped up from 5- to 8-megapixel shooters, with wider aperture for better low light performance.
Finally, a handful of reports have claimed that one or all of the new iPads will come with the same ‘TouchID’ fingerprint scanner found in the iPhone 5s, but those have been iffy, even by the rumor mill’s standards. It’s definitely possible that Apple will bake them into the slates, but we can’t say it’s likely for now.
A Very Large iPad Could Be in the Works
There really isn’t much to this one. The Wall Street Journal reported in July that Apple was testing out iPads with displays around 13 inches in size, and a handful of foreign reports have made similar claims since then. That’s about it.
Apple could very well be fooling around with different iPad form factors, but that’s, well, kind of what companies do. Lots of products have been left in the test labs, and this rumor hasn’t picked up any real steam, so we don’t expect Apple to launch a massive tablet anytime in the near future.
Pricing Should Stay the Same
Many reports have said many things about the new iPad and iPad mini over the past several months, but one thing almost all of them agree on is their eventual costs. So far, we haven’t heard anything to suggest that Apple will sway from its usual iPad pricing structure. Expect the big iPad to still start at $500, and the iPad mini to still start at $330.
The one thing that could complicate this is, again, that non-Retina iPad mini that’s been bandied about. We’d imagine that such a device would be too outdated specs-wise for Apple to sell it for $330, and Kuo has suggested that Cook and company could launch a cheaper iPad device sometime in the near future. There haven’t been many other whispers on that front, though, so we\’d guess that you’ll still be shelling out the same amount of cash for new iPads this holiday season.