Apple is still playing dumb about the iPad Mini, but enough information has emerged to paint a pretty solid picture.
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For a device that's expected to go on sale in less than three weeks, the iPad Mini has remained fairly well hidden from view. Apple itself has remained mum on the subject, neither confirming nor denying anything. Details about the smaller tablet computer have slipped out in bytes and pieces. Enough of them have eked through Apple's security controls to give us at least a hazy picture of what the iPad Mini will offer.
Here are some of the things about the iPad Mini that we think we know for sure; things that are probable, but could change; and things we just don't know at all.
1. Smaller Screen -- The iPad Mini's display will be 7.85 inches across the diagonal. This is slightly bigger than the 7-inch tablets that former Apple CEO Steve Jobs loathed, but significantly smaller than the traditional iPad's 9.7-inch display. Apple component suppliers in Asia have suggested that they've received orders for 8 to 10 million of such touch panels.
2. No Retina Display -- The iPad Mini's smaller display's final resolution isn't known, but it won't be a Retina Display. Apple's Retina Displays--available on the iPhone 4, 4S, and 5, MacBook Pro, and newest iPad--pack an extremely high pixel density. They high pixel density renders everything on the screen in great detail and offers the smoothest, sharpest text and pictures.
3. Lightning Port -- Like the iPhone 5, the iPad Mini will use the smaller Lightning port designed by Apple. This port is about the same size as the industry standard microUSB, but isn't compatible with those cables. Only Lightning cables made by Apple will work with this port. Where the Lightning port made life more costly for iPhone 5 owners (who have to purchase adapters to fit the iPhone 5 into their existing accessories), the iPad Mini is a brand new form factor from Apple and has no accessories yet. This information has been "confirmed" by an analyst who's used the iPad Mini.
4. Thinner Design -- Though the first batch of leaked photos of the iPad Mini revealed a device that appeared significantly thicker than the traditional iPad, newer photos (and fresh reports) suggest that it will actually be thinner than the larger iPad, not to mention lighter and easier to hold.
1. A6 Processor -- The Retina Display iPad uses Apple's A5X chip. It's incredible. The iPhone 5 uses the A6 chip, which is even more incredible. It's a tossup as to which Apple will put in the iPad Mini, but the A6 is the better bet.
2. Camera(s) -- Leaked images of the iPad Mini show two cameras on board, but it's always possible the images are old or outdated. The iPhone 5 and iPad now have main and secondary cameras. I'd expect nothing less on the iPad Mini, but it's possible Apple will pick only a FaceTime camera.
3. Storage -- Most of Apple's iOS devices ship with either 16, 32, or 64 gigabytes of onboard storage. The iPad Mini will probably fall in line with the rest of Apple's iOS lineup, but there's always room for a surprise.
1. Cellular Data -- Right now, Wi-Fi is pegged as a certainty when it comes to wireless Internet access, but 3G is still only a rumor, and 4G a slim probability. We simply don't know.
2. When -- We thought we knew, but it turns out we don't. Forbes believed the invitations to Apple's iPad Mini event would go out on October 10, with the show kicking off on October 17, and the device arriving as soon as November 2. Well, invitations didn't go out on October 10. The latest report, coming from AllThingsD, suggests the event will take place on October 23. Availability is still expected on or about November 2.
3. How Much -- Pricing guesstimates for the iPad Mini range from $199 to $349. The price point suggested most often is $249 for a 16 GB version. At $249, the iPad Mini would cost $50 more than the Google Nexus 7 and $70 more than the Amazon Kindle Fire. Apple typically charges a premium for its devices. But the iPod Touch costs $299. Granted, it's more difficult to shove technology into smaller packages, but pricing a 5-inch device at $299 and a 7.85-inch device at $249 doesn't make much sense. Bottom line, we just don't know.
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