New iPad To Be Thinner, Lighter: Report

Next Apple iPad expected to weigh a little over one pound, debut in fall.
Apple iPhone 5S: The Hot Rumors
Apple iPhone 5S: The Hot Rumors
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Apple surprised most people when it introduced the fourth-generation iPad last fall. No one expected to see a refresh of Apple's iconic tablet until March or April of this year, which would have fallen in line with Apple's previous, yearly upgrade cycle. Instead, Apple introduced a fourth-gen iPad alongside the iPad Mini that was mostly identical to the third-gen iPad. Only the processor and the Lightning connector -- and size, of course -- make it stand out from the previous model.

Fast forward to today, and there's no word from Apple about a fifth-generation iPad. Some had hoped Apple would stick to its yearly refresh cycle and debut a brand new device in March or April. It looks as though that's not happening.

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo doesn't think we'll see the next-gen iPad until the fall. He believes production for the new product won't ramp up until August or September for a fall debut, roughly one year after Apple introduced the fourth-gen iPad. Considering Apple's silence about any new products this year, Kuo's forecast makes sense, on the surface.

[ Get a closer look at the iPad Mini. Read iPad Mini Tablet: Visual Tour. ]

If Apple is going to make people wait a full year between new iPads, the next one had better be pretty good, right? Kuo has some insight there, as well.

"We think the tablet will, at 7.5-8.0mm, be 15% thinner than iPad 4," wrote Kuo in a report to investors. The iPad 4 measures 9.4mm thick. It is hardly chubby, but making it thinner will certainly boost the tablet's appeal.

"The new device will likely be about 500 grams, or some 25% lighter than iPad 4," said Kuo. The iPad 4 weighs in at 652 grams, or about 1.44 pounds. A drop to 500 grams would put the iPad 5's weight at 1.10 pounds. The iPad 4 isn't overly heavy, but it's more than twice as heavy as the iPad Mini, which weighs a mere 0.68 pounds, about 308 grams.

Kuo said the iPad 5 will "run on an A7X processor, and sport cameras with similar specs to the iPad 4's (front HD, rear 5MP). The casing shape and color (silver and black) and narrow bezel design will be similar to the iPad Mini's." At this point, a redesign of the full-size iPad is expected, and Kuo's predictions fall in line with those expectations.

What's interesting is how Kuo thinks Apple will be able to reduce the size and weight. First, Apple will use new screen technology that is thinner. Second, it's going to give the iPad 5 a smaller battery. Before you worry that the iPad 5 will have poor battery life, Kuo suggests that the new screen will be more power efficient. Further, the A7X processor, which uses Samsung's 28-nm processes, will be much more power efficient. Together, these will allow Apple to decrease the size of the battery without hurting battery life.

"We therefore think that iPad 5's battery capacity will be 25-30% smaller, at 8,500-9,000mAh, than iPad 4's, and the battery's thickness will be 15-20% smaller, and the number of cells will be reduced to two from three," said Kuo.

Apple has not announced any new products this year, but it will report its first quarter earnings on April 23. Perhaps some clues will emerge then.