The iPad Mini is a tech-site trope of some years standing. But with supply-chain heat hitting feverish levels in recent months, it looks like 2012 might be the year a more compact, cheaper iPad actually happens.
Here we round up and discuss all the latest speculation to keep you in the loop and ensure that you won’t be caught short when pub conversation among your techy friends turns Apple-wards.
iPad Mini Specs
The iPad Mini's mooted spec sheet changes almost daily. This is what we know - or think we know - so far.
It’ll feature a 7-8-inch screen
Estimates of the iPad Mini’s screen size range from seven inches to eight inches. But the most common figure cited by suppliers and insider sources is 7.85-inches.
Assuming that’s so it looks like the iPad Mini won't be quite as portable as the Android rivals it’s bidding to see off, with both the Amazon Kindle Fire 2 and the Google Nexus 7 apparently both coming in at seven inches.
It will/won’t be a high-density retina display
John Gruber of Daring Fireball thinks a high-res screen might be unrealistic if Apple is to ensure it is nearly as affordable as slates from Google and Amazon. According to the scribe behind the influential Apple blog, it’s more likely that we’ll get a screen featuring the same display tech as the iPhone 3GS.
He also posits that it’ll pack resolution of 1024x768. That’s the same as the original iPad and the iPad 2.
A Retina display is also ruled out by sources cited by Bloomberg. The way the business news bods tell it, we’re looking at a display with pixel density of 264ppi. This is some way below the iPhone’s 326ppi.
An all-new dock is on board
Apple has stuck with the same charging dock connector since the first iPhone. That could be about to change with the iPad Mini, though. Assuming we can believe component leaks, the slate will ditch the standard 30-pin port in favour of a smaller fitting with 19 pins.
The downside of this? Only that if Apple did so it would render obsolete iFans' entire collection of accessoires overnight. The upside is that a smaller dock would look neater and free up more space for other ports.
It’ll pack a quad-core processor
Predictions of what the iPad Mini will pack on the grunt front are also mixed. According to sources cited by DigiTimes, they'll be equipped with an Exynos quad-core processor courtesy of Samsung.
That seems pretty unlikely given that the more expensive current-gen iPad only packs a dual-core chipset. And that's before you get to the fact that Apple will be trying to cut ties with sometime partner, sometime deadly enemy Samsung.
What's more likely is that Apple will fit the iPad Mini with the same A5X processor as the current-gen iPad.
It'll be considerably thinner than its budget Android rival
Drawings of a third-party manufacturer's case for the iPad Mini suggest it will come in an uncommonly trim 7.3mm (0.29 in) thin. That's way slimmer than Google’s recently unveiled Nexus 7, which comes at 10.45mm.
iPad Mini release date
Some claim that Apple will drop its reduced tablet in the fourth quarter of 2012 to capitalise on the Christmas rush and ensure the Google Nexus 7 doesn't get much of a chance to get a foothold in the tablet market.
However, other murmurings point to a launch early next year, which would tally with the now-established March due date for new Apple tablets and would be in keeping with usually regular as clockwork Apple's annual product refreshes.
iPad Mini price
Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster claims to have been told by insiders that Apple will price the iPad Mini at $299. Assuming Apple follows its standard dollars to pounds pricing, that equates to about £299.
Interestingly, though, that's rather at the upper end of what's being forecast. Some industry watchers have named a probable price of as little as $249. Using the above equation, you don't need us to work out what is in pounds.