Veteran tech site AllThingsD is reporting that Topeka analyst Brian White expects the iPad Mini to outshine the iPad 3, even going as far as saying that the iPad Mini will be “slicker than the new iPad.”
White’s report is based on his experiences talking to some of the Asian suppliers responsible for assembling the new iPad, and while he doesn’t offer any proof to back up his assertions, AllThingsD is sticking up for him and says that “White’s supply chain sources have been solid in the past” and “we too have been hearing promising things about the iPad Mini’s design.”
I might be being a bit hopeful here, but I’d take that as being more than just “the iPad Mini will be as good looking as an iPad, but at a much lower price point.” It might be an indicatation that we will see an iPad Mini with a super high resolution Retina display. A resolution of 2048 x 1536, the same as the iPad 3, would result in a pixel density of 326 pixels per inch – the same as the iPhone 4S and 5. That means that iPad Mini displays could be cut from the same sheet as iPhone displays, allowing Apple to obviate the need to produce a new display from scratch.
The report also pinpoints possible difficulties in producing the iPad Mini, and that the new tablet “demands a lot of the companies manufacturing it… This could make the device hard to come by initially.”
Again, this seems to point to both a high level of polish in creating the device, and potentially also the engineering challenges of fitting a high-spec chipset into a much smaller device without sacrificing battery life or adding a lot of bulk. Asus did well with Google’s Nexus 7, incorporating an extremly quick Tegra 3 quad-core chipset into the budget device, so to really be remarkable the iPad Mini should offer the same level of hardware quality.
Some sacrifices may have to be made to make everything fit – and one of them may be 3G and LTE connectivity. According to a report from the Guardian, the Mini won’t support either, allowing Apple to keep the price down and easily differentiate the two designs in the eye of consumers.
Indeed, the latest news is that the iPad Mini’s design has suffered a last-minute change and that this will further delay production of the tablet. According to Macotakara, the shape of the iPad Mini will be changed to make it more rounded. It’s not clear if this is an engineering issue or an aesthetic decision, but I would imagine it more likely to be the former even given Apple’s typical pedantry. I’m sure both the Apple faithful and the eager third party manufacturers of iPad Mini cases will be hoping the change isn’t too severe, but even a minor one could delay the launch of the device for weeks.
The iPad Mini may be announced as soon as next week, and is expected to ship before Christmas if all goes to schedule. We’ll keep you posted of any further updates, so stay tuned!