A smaller iPad is coming. For the first time since the iconic tablet's launch in 2010, Apple is giving the product line an expansion. According to Fortune, we even know the date that Apple will send out its invitations: October 10.
With the launch approaching, let's take a look at the features and specs that various leaks and rumors have suggested.
We don't know for sure that Apple will call it the iPad mini. Back in August, John Gruber of Daring Fireball suggested the possibility of an iPad Air. As the "mini" moniker hasn't been used in nearly a decade (remember the iPod mini?), iPad Air would be more consistent with Apple's 2012 product line.
Apple has been known to surprise us with naming (everyone thought we'd be using the iPad 3 right now), but we'd still place the safe money on "iPad mini."
Apple wouldn't bother making a smaller iPad that barely undercuts the US$399 iPad 2. Could Apple sell it for $199? If it's priced in that range, then Amazon (Kindle Fire HD), Barnes & Noble (Nook HD), and Google (Nexus 7) will have some stiff competition.
Expect a tablet that's a bit larger than 7-inch slates like the Kindle Fire and Nexus 7, only thinner and significantly lighter. Various sources – including 9to5Mac and Daring Fireball – report that the smaller iPad will sport a narrower bezel on the sides.
The device's svelte and light-as-a-feather build could well be its biggest differentiating feature. It could potentially be as thin (or nearly as thin) as the 5th generation iPod touch: a slight 6.1 mm.
Insiders predict a display measuring 7.85 inches, with 1024x768 resolution. If those numbers sound familiar, it's because it will essentially be a shrunken-down iPad 2 display. This makes it easier on developers, as it will run apps in the same resolution as the first two iPads.
This would give the new tablet a pixel density of 163 – well short of Retina qualifications. It would, however, be sharper than the pre-Retina iPads, as the same number of pixels would be crunched onto a smaller screen.
Instapaper developer Marco Arment suspects that the display resolution won't be the only feature borrowed from the iPad 2. The iPad mini could have the same internals as the 2011 tablet: an A5 chip (dual core, 1GHz) and 512MB of RAM.
16GB would be a smart bet for flash memory. It's possible that Apple will offer 32GB and 64GB models in $100 increments, but there could be value in keeping it simple. Additionally, a budget tablet loses appeal with each $100 tacked on.
Will the iPad mini be a Wi-Fi-only affair, or will we see a 3G/LTE option? I'd lean towards the latter, with the mobile data model coming in at $130 higher than the standard Wi-Fi edition.
The new Apple device should have both front-facing and rear cameras. These would also likely be borrowed from the iPad 2 - meaning a 0.92 megapixel (MP) rear shooter and a VGA front camera. Nothing stellar, but they'll allow for video chat and basic photography.
The iPad mini will sport Apple's new smaller Lightning connector, so you'll need a $30 adapter to use it with your old 30-pin accessories.
If the new device includes headphones (a long shot, as iPads never have), then they will be the new EarPods.
Does the iPad mini sound enticing? Would any current iPad owners have interest in this, or is it more for customers who have never owned an iPad? Let us know in the comments!
See the stories that matter in your inbox every morning