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iPad mini: what we think we know

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iPad mini: what we think we know
Apple has a little something to show us on October 23, and we all believe we know what that might be. A smaller, more affordable iPad model is expected to be announced – presumably called the iPad mini and likely destined to take down Amazon and Google as the dominant names on the 7-inch tablet arena. Obviously, the device isn't official yet, but at the same time, rumors about it have been going back and forth for months. Yeah, we know that security at Apple isn't as tight as it used to be. But thanks to those rumors, we believe we already know quite a lot about the iPad mini, although some pieces of the puzzle have yet to be revealed. Care to go over what we have so far and see what the iPad mini is shaping up to be?


Design

The iPad mini will probably look like this

The iPad mini will probably look like this

Knowing Apple, we are expecting the iPad mini to look a lot like a miniaturized version of the current iPad, with clean, minimalist design, a slender waistline and rounded corners. After all, why would anyone want to change a working formula? Furthermore, thanks to all the leaks, we have enough reasons to believe that the body of the device will be made out of aluminum. Without a doubt, the new Lightning dock connector will be on the bottom, replacing the now-obsolete 30-pin interface and possibly rendering some of your existing accessories unusable, but those who want to keep using the peripherals they own will have the option to purchase a $29 adapter from Apple. As far as variety is concerned, it is rumored that the iPad mini will come in white or black. But most importantly, the device will surely be more compact and even easier to handle than its predecessor due to the smaller size and reduced weight.


Display

The size of the display on the iPad mini doesn't seem that hard to predict either as the rumor mill has been pointing at the same figures for months – chances are that a 7.85-inch screen will be gracing the front of the device. But while the screens used by the Android competition have a widescreen aspect ratio (16:10 or 16:9), Apple's smaller tablet will stick with the 4:3 proportion. And that's not a bad thing at all! As a result, the iPad mini will have a display with 40% more surface area compared to the screens found on the Google Nexus 7 or the Amazon Kindle Fire HD. On the downside, movies will either have those nasty black stripes on the bottom and top, or will be cropped from the sides. The resolution of the screen is rumored to be 1024 by 768 pixels, which is bad news for everyone who has been hoping to see a Retina display on the iPad mini, but on the other hand, that would keep the production cost (and probably the retail price) of the device down.

The iPad mini will likely have a screen with 40% more surface area than those on 7-inch tablets

The iPad mini will likely have a screen with 40% more surface area than those on 7-inch tablets



Processor

This is where it gets interesting. Although we've seen alleged iPad mini components leak more than a few times already, there has been no word as to what kind of processor the device will utilize. The SoC will surely be of the AX kind, but will it be the new A6 found inside the iPhone 5, or a different chip developed especially for the iPad mini? We can only guess at this time, but it won't be surprising if the rumor mill fills in the blanks for us prior to the tablet's announcement.


Camera

There will be cameras on the front and back of the iPad mini
There will be cameras on the front and back of the iPad mini

There will be cameras on the front and back of the iPad mini

All the leaked iPad mini back plates that we've seen so far have an opening on the back, which is clearly meant for a camera lens. Furthermore, leaks confirm that a front-facing cam will be present as well. Unfortunately, we have no idea whether the main camera will be as capable as the iSight shooter found on the new iPad, or its photographic skills will be inferior. Also, although we hope that the front-facing camera will be as good as the one found on the iPhone 5, something tells us that a 0.3MP module like the one on the current iPad will be used.


Connectivity, storage, battery life

It looks like the iPad mini will have cellular connectivity

It looks like the iPad mini will have cellular connectivity

Now let's talk connectivity. On one hand, some say that the iPad mini will be a Wi-Fi-only device, but on the other, we've already seen photos of an alleged iPad mini chassis with a SIM card tray, suggesting that the tablet might come in a 3G/LTE flavor as well. That could be a huge advantage for Apple because 7-inchers rarely offer any kind of cellular connectivity. Therefore, chances are that users who need a smaller tablet and insist on staying always connected to the internet will have little alternatives and will go for the iPad mini.

Storage-wise, iPad mini variants with capacity between 8 and 64 gigabytes are likely coming, judging by what some retailers have listed in their databases. But then again, those entries that have leaked could be just placeholders, so some of the variants might not exist. We'll find out what the truth is in a few days.

Just recently, a photo of a battery cell supposedly made for the iPad mini surfaced on the web. Rated at 4490mAh / 16.7Wh, it had about three times the energy capacity of an iPhone 5 battery. Still, these figures alone aren't sufficient to predict just what kind of battery life we might expect out of the tablet since there are other factors into play, such as energy consumption. But since all tablets that Apple has released so far have managed to provide about 10 hours of continuous usage, we'd expect the iPad mini to be well capable of lasting through a day of moderate use.


Software

There is no doubt that the iPad mini will run iOS 6, which is the latest version of Apple's mobile platform. And for better or for worse, it will come with Apple's own Maps application, which isn't quite perfect, as many have already discovered, but it is still not as bad as the memes suggest. At a glance, the latest release of the platform doesn't look much different from previous versions as it retains the simple, minimalist interface. However, there are more than a few notable improvements and new features that one has to take into account, such as the deep Facebook integration, the new Passcode app that collects  your boarding passes, store cards and the likes, while Siri is now competent on a broader range of topics. Check out our iOS 6 feature overview for more details.

iOS 6 comes with many new features, such as Apple Maps, Facebook integration, and more
iOS 6 comes with many new features, such as Apple Maps, Facebook integration, and more
iOS 6 comes with many new features, such as Apple Maps, Facebook integration, and more

iOS 6 comes with many new features, such as Apple Maps, Facebook integration, and more


 
Price and availability

Since Apple is known for launching its products fairly quickly after announcing them, the iPad mini will most probably be released in the U.S. and other key markets in early November, followed by a wider international rollout soon after. Pre-orders might go live only days, if not hours after the October 23 event, and you can bet that the iPad mini will be one of the hottest gifts this Holiday season... if priced reasonably, of course.

Speaking of pricing, it is hard to imagine Apple's new tablet being exactly as affordable as the popular 7-inchers like the Google Nexus 7 or the Amazon Kindle Fire HD. In fact, the cheaper variant might go for at least $299 according to some analysts, unless Apple decides to sacrifice profit margins in favor of making the iPad mini more affordable. Still, keep in mind that the price of the device is anyone's guess and it won't be known with certainty until next Tuesday. Stay tuned for the event as we'll be reporting all about it!




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