By Stephen Schenck | October 22, 2012 11:49 AM
In a little over a day, starting at 1 p.m. Eastern, Apple’s latest event is going to start getting underway, and unless we’ve all totally missed the mark here, Apple should be unveiling its iPad mini.
The idea that Apple would shrink-down its 9.7-inch tablet to a more portable form factor is an old one, dating back to well before the iPad 3 arrived. While the rumors are old-hat, actual hard evidence of this new iPad didn’t start surfacing until this summer, when we got to look at several supposed iPad mini components. Eventually, we saw those parts start coming together, forming the completed tablet. Most recently, we’ve looked into rumors of how the mini will arrive, including price points and hardware configurations. All in all, it feels like we have a good idea of what to expect, but what exactly do we know, and what pieces of the puzzle are still missing?
Let’s look at the hardware. This is the part of the story that started coming together first, and it’s arguably what’s the most fleshed-out. Based on all the component leaks, and the handful of schematics we’ve seen (likely based off those same parts), the iPad mini will have a 7.85-inch display.
Apple may not be introducing iOS support for a new resolution to go along with this new display size, as we’ve heard that the 7.85-inch iPad mini screen will keep the 1024 x 768 resolution of the first two full-sized iPads, just with a higher pixel density.
More than being just a shrunken-down iPad, we’re expecting the iPad mini to make some design changes to take the best advantage of this new size, slimming the bezel along its long edges to fit more comfortably in users’ hands.
The rear of the tablet is likely to feature the same sort of anodized aluminum construction used for the back of the iPhone 5. While earlier leaks had us guessing about the likelihood of seeing a rear-facing camera, that’s finally seeming like it will be included, after all. Like the iPhone 5, the iPad mini will feature one of Apple’s new Lightning connectors.
We’ve also gotten a look at what could be the battery used in the iPad mini, a 3.72V, 16.7 Whr, 4490mAh component.
As for how Apple will equip the iPad mini, instead of just 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB versions, like the iPad 3, we could also see a reduced capacity 8GB tablet arrive. All four of those options may be available in both black and white, and with or without a cellular radio.
We may be off on quite a few of those details, but taken as a whole, the rumor mill has done nice job of forming a cohesive vision of an unreleased product. Frankly, we’ll be surprised if it’s substantially different from what’s outlined above.
So, what don’t we know?
Even with several leaks out of various retailer computer systems, the full picture on iPad mini pricing continues to elude us. We’ve definitely got a good sense of how it will play out, but it’s hard to place much faith in specific dollar figures at this point, with so many options being tossed around.
What about iOS? We wouldn’t be surprised if Apple had a new iOS release to go along with the debut of the iPad mini – maybe version 6.1 – but just what would it include? There have been several rumors that Apple’s been working on getting the licenses together for a streaming music service. Maybe Apple’s finally managed to work out all those details and could be ready to launch things.
We also don’t know what’s to become of the rest of the iPad lineup. Recently, we’ve heard both that the iPad 2 could finally be retired, and that the iPad 3 is going to get a hardware refresh, bringing the tablet a Lightning connector among other rumored improvements. Both of these are relatively fresh on our minds, and while there is some support for some of these claims, we’re still missing a lot of the details.
There you have it. Do you miss the old days, when we were nearly guaranteed some sort of surprise at an Apple event? Have all these leaks and rumors ruined things a bit? Check back with us tomorrow afternoon to see just how close to the mark all this has been, and finally get the official word from Apple on the latest changes to its tablet lineup.