New reports claim iPad “mini” coming in October – here’s what we know about the upcoming tablet

The Apple rumour mill is cranking up. Just a few months after the company released its new iPad, reports suggest the tech giant is working on a seven-inch version to be released later this year.

With the company’s autumn announcements just a few months away, we’ll no doubt be hearing more rumours and leaks. So now’s a good time to consider the biggest rumours we’ve heard so far, and judge whether they’re likely to come to pass.

The new, seven-inch iPad

The rumours of a seven-inch iPad tablet have been around forever, even in the months after the first version hit the shelves. But this time, it’s a little different – both Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal are saying the seven-inch version is about to head into production.

The Wall Street Journal said earlier this year Apple was testing such a device, but it hadn’t yet decided whether to put it into production.

There are a couple of things complicating this rumour. For one thing, Steve Jobs specifically said the company would never make a seven-inch tablet, saying users would be too frustrated with the small size of the screen. In fact, he said such devices would be “dead on arrival”.

Now that Jobs has passed away, and the company is in Tim Cook’s hands, that could change. For one thing, Google, Microsoft and Amazon have all made pretty decent seven-inch tablets for the budget market.

Apple isn’t a reactive company. If it’s making a seven-inch tablet, it won’t be because it’s being forced by the rest of the market, considering it continues to hold the dominant position in tablets. It’ll be because they’ve managed to create something interesting in that space.

But with two sources now confirming production of a new device, all bets are off.

Verdict: Wait and see

A lower price point

The new rumours also claim the iPad “mini” will have a price closer to $US199 than any of the current iPad versions.

While Apple may be able to maintain a profit at that price, it would be an interesting move, perhaps risking undercutting the full iPad version. If you can get the benefits at half the cost, why pay for the 9.7-inch version?

Verdict: Just a little low

Announcement in October

For the last two years, Apple has announced its iPad updates in March, or at least the early part of the year. But these new rumours are saying the company will launch an update in October.

That’s an interesting shift, but would make sense if they plan to launch alongside some updates for its iPod and iTunes line-up. (A separate rumour indicates a fresh version of iTunes will be released this year).

This could also make sense if Apple wants to start replacing its iPod Touch range with a slightly larger seven-inch version.

There’s one caveat here – last year there were plenty of rumours Apple would release the iPad 3 just six months after the previous version. That ended up not being true – so it’s probably best to take this one with a grain of salt.

Verdict: Probably not

New applications and hardware

Back in January, Digitimes reported the iPad 4 – which will be a full 9.7 inches – will have upgraded hardware and integrated applications to compete with the Android and Windows tablets coming out later this year.

This is a no-brainer. Every year Apple updates the guts of each iPad, and next year will be no different. There may be some questions as to what Apple will be doing specifically with the hardware, but make no mistake, improvements are coming.

Verdict: Definitely

A new five-inch device

This may be one you hadn’t heard. Back in March, there were a few rumours circulating that Apple was working on a five-inch touch device.

The only thing is, this may not be part of the iPad line up at all. It could be something completely different – perhaps an update to the iPod Touch line, or some sort of replacement for the iPod Classic. According to the rumours, however, this device definitely had a Retina screen.

The only problem? It’s coming in 2013. So while this may show up eventually, it won’t be later this year, and it probably won’t be an iPad.

Then again, Apple tends to experiment with all sorts of different devices. This may never see the light of day.

Verdict: Don’t hold your breath


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