Hot on the heels of last month’s iPhone 5 Keynote, we are now faced with what one will assume is Apple’s last Keynote of the year. If the rumors are to be believed, the “little” thing that Apple have to show us is the iPad mini.
The iPad mini will feature a 7.85 inch display at the exact same 1024 x 768 resolution as the iPad 1 and 2’s display. This means that the iPad mini’s display is only 163 ppi, compared to the iPad 3’s display which is 264 ppi and the iPad 2’s display which ppi 132. It is no coincidence that 163 ppi is the exact same screen density as non Retina iPhones/iPod Touches, meaning that touch areas in apps (assuming developers followed Apple guidlines) will be of a sufficent size without any modification, which in conjunction with the exact same resolution of the Non Retina iPads will mean that all exisiting apps will just work. This is obviously just Great News for users and developers alike.
I don’t think even Apple would try and claim that an extra 31 ppi over the iPad 2 will make the iPad mini’s display “Retina”, but why would they when it makes an obvious feature they can add to the iPad mini 2.
It is important to remember that a Retina Display requires a faster GPU and therefore a bigger battery to power it, which in conjunction with the higher price will make it unsuitable for the lighter, cheaper iPad mini.
The iPad mini will certainly feature WiFi and Bluetooth but will it include an LTE/3G Antenna? I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t, but I expect it to be an optional extra like on the iPad. Like the iPad, the iPad mini won’t allow you to make calls or send sms messages, and the cellular connection will be used solely for data.
Like the iPhone 5 last month the iPad mini will use the new Lightning Cable to charge and sync the device (if you still sync with a cable), other than that I think the only other port on the device will be a headphone jack.
16 GB, 32 GB and 64GB seem like the obvious capacities but I also think we will see the baseline model feature a mere 8GB of storage. Personally I don’t think 8GB is enough, especially with a lot of applications weighing in at 50-150MB and a few games going well over 1GB (the current limit for app sizes is 2GB). This is in addition to the eBooks and iTunes course that you are expected to put on it (if you are in their student target market), so you will want at least the 16GB version.
One thing Apple could do is strip out all of the @2x images out of app bundles for non retina devices which would save approximately 4/5th of the total asset size … but as this has been a problem since the first retina device (the iPhone 4) was introduced I am not holding my breath.
Unlike Google and Amazon, Apple are not going to start selling their devices at cost anytime soon, so I doubt the iPad mini will become the cheapest 7 inch tablet on the market (Google’s Nexus 7 is currently $199 for the 8GB Model). I think the iPad mini will start at $249 for the 8GB WiFi only model and go up from there for more capacity and LTE. At $249, the iPad mini will be cheaper than the base model 5th Generation iPod touch, albeit with less capacity (32 GB for $299). If Apple are pedantic about having clear product lines and pricing, they would have to start the iPad mini at $329, but a £129 premium when compared to existing 7" tablets is quite excessive.
I expect the iPad mini will be targeted at the eBook and Educational markets, but as it is so cheap it will inevitably increase Apple’s tablet market share, just as the iPod mini did for its MP3 market share 8 years ago. Will it cannibalise iPad sales? Definitely. Will it become the most popular form factor? We will have to wait and see.
The New iPad may be become The Old iPad at this event (what was the problem with numbers again?) as it is set to be updated with a lightning port and rest of the World LTE just before the holiday season. If Apple are going to refresh the iPad lineup in the spring, I personally don’t think this will happen, but maybe they want to mix up their product release cycles and not refresh the iPod lineup until later next year.
The Mac Lineup got no attention at the last keynote, but I think it is poised to get some on Tuesday (but maybe it won’t even make the Keynote).
13" MacBook Pro Retina
The 15" MacBook Pro Retina burst onto the seen at WWDC and it has had very favourable reviews especially in regards to its retina display. It is now time for the 13" MacBook Pro to get the Retina treatment in addition to shedding its disk drive. I expect the non-retina 13" and 15" MacBook Pros to still be available as the Retina Models come at a price, and the 13" model will probably start at the $1699 mark. Like many others, I think I will be holding out for the 13" MacBook Air Retina.
iMac and Mac
The iMac and Mac mini have not been updated since May and June last year respectively so they are long overdue an update. I think the update will only be an internal speed bump with the headline feature being the ability to have 32GB of RAM in the iMac and 16GB of RAM in the Mac mini.