The iPhone 5 was just released, but it feels like an old news now. The rumors are now focused on the next Apple event on November 2nd. The speculations are highly geared towards the venerable iPad mini, a smaller ~8″ iPad. The photo leaks are bountiful, so it’s pretty much a given imo. So now the speculations move on to the spec and price. I’m joining in with my 2 cents.
There are many speculations around the screen, how it’s going to be similar to the iPhone 3GS, ie. an inferior screen to the IPS panels used for the regular iPads and iPhone 4/4S/5. Imo Apple wouldn’t do this. Apple is not that stupid. The 5th gen iPod Touch itself has an IPS screen, so it wouldn’t make sense to “downgrade” the iPad mini. Apple is proud for its choice of panels on its various products (Macs, Macbooks, etc). The iPad mini will have the same IPS panel. Resolution wise, per the rumors, would be 1024 x 768, making it denser than the original/iPad 2’s screen, but not retina. Considering the yield and cost for retina screens (for the “new” iPad, iPhone 5, and “new” Macbook Pro), I’m going to guess Apple will do this and save a retina version for next revision. It will be highly criticized as the competitors are employing 720p screens for their 7″ tablets, but I bet Apple’s marketing machine will spin it in a magical way that you won’t care.
Going down to the chip used, IMO it’s going to be the A6. The rumors are speculating that Apple would use the A5 (to differentiate it as a lower model than the big iPad). I doubt it. The iPad is a flagship brand, and I don’t think Apple would treat the iPad mini like the iPod Touch, which is the step-child of the iPhone. I was already surprised that Apple put the A6 inside the iPhone 5, instead of parodying the “new” iPad (using A5X). The A6 has the advantage of being smaller and more power efficient than the A5/A5X, something that is needed by the smaller iPad to keep the tag of “legendary” battery life.
RAM wise, I hope it would be 1GB just like its bigger brother, but I won’t be surprised if Apple decided to put 512MB instead. 512MB is still usable (iPad 2, iPhone 4S, 5th gen iPod Touch).
The leaked SKUs is showing multiple models, parodying the lineup of the regular iPad, ranging from 16GB to 64GB, each with 3G/4G wireless version. Having cellular radio version from day 1 will definitely be an advantage against the popular Android tablet, Nexus 7.
The highly controversial topic is the pricing. In the past, Apple used to have fairly comfortable price gaps for their lineup (I remember the 64GB original iPod Touch selling for like $600). Today, with the ceiling being $499 from the 16GB wifi “new” iPad, and the floor being $299 from the 32GB 5th gen Touch, there’s not much wiggle room. Currently, the rumor is $329 for the lowest end (presumably 16GB wifi version), adding $100 for double the capacity, up to 64GB, and just like the regular iPad, adding $130 premium for the models equipped with cellular radio. As you can see, the pricing becomes a jumble of mess. I don’t know how Apple is going to approach this.
Speaking about price, the obvious thorn is the iPad 2, which is still being sold today at the $399 price point. I’m going to guess that it will be discontinued (relegated to the refurbished section) to at least leave a bit of breathing room for the iPad mini. The iPad 2 itself is still a great device, and if an even further price drop happened, it will be a good deal snatching one up from the refurbished store.
Oh, and how about the name? iPad mini makes sense. Simple, straight, and parodied the Mac mini (and the defunct iPod mini).
Besides the iPad mini, there are other Apple products that are due for an update. The regular iPad themselves are rumored to be refreshed with the lightning dock connector, eliminating the 30-pin models. The Mac mini is als overdue for Ivy bridge update. Same thing with the iMac. Another contender is also a 13″ retina Macbook Pro, which would also fit the “little more” tagline, to go side-by-side the previously announced 15″. The dilemma here is due to the late update, one may want to actually pass on these Ivy Bridge Macs, especially the retina Macbook Pro, and wait for Intel’s Haswell next year.
So there you go. Imo this is going to be a smaller event, unlike the iPhone 5/iPod announcement. Focus will be the iPad mini. I’ve been liking the 7″ form factor of my Nexus 7, as it’s a lot more convenient to take with you, while still having a decent screen space compared to a smartphone. The downside of the Nexus 7 is the limited storage and the lack of cellular radio version. If Apple makes a 64GB iPad mini with cellular radio, that’s it, I’m getting one.