iPad mini 2 Rumor Roundup: What we know so far

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Last year, Apple introduced the iPad mini as the smaller and cheaper version of the iPad. The more affordable iPad has become quite popular, and helped Apple to fend off competition from cheaper Android based tablets.

Apple is now widely expected to unveil the 2nd generation iPad mini at the media event on Tuesday, October 22nd, which will finally put an end to the rumors and speculations that started almost a year back. So what can we expect from Apple’s next generation iPad?

Here’s a look at the new features and improvement that we can expect in the new 9.7-inch iPad. Most of them are based on the rumors and speculations we’ve heard so far. We’ve also sneaked in a few from our wish list:

Form Factor and Design

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Based on the rumors and leaked parts, we don’t expect a major change in the design. It will come with same rounded edges, sleek metallic finish at the back and diamond-cut chamfered edges.

It may be slightly thicker than the original iPad mini to accommodate the new high resolution Retina Display. Case manufacturers have started manufacturing iPad mini 2 cases that fit a device with a thickness of 7.5mm and width of 134.9mm. That’s 0.3mm thicker and 0.2mm wider than the current iPad mini.

Check out the video below, which shows off the back casing of iPad mini 2:

Retina Display

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The lack of Retina Display was one of the main reasons many users didn’t buy the original iPad mini. The latest rumors suggest that the 2nd generation iPad mini will sport a Retina Display with resolution of 2048×1536 pixels (same as the iPad 4 and the iPad 5) at a pixel density of 326 ppi.

It is not clear how Apple plans to implement the high resolution Retina Display in the iPad mini 2. It remains to be seen if Apple will IGZO (indium gallium zinc oxide) displays. Display panels made using IGZO semiconducting material allow high resolution displays to be compact, energy efficient and are cheaper to manufacture. It has ten times more electron mobility than the standard amorphous silicon currently used in LCDs.  However, as we mentioned earlier, iPad mini 2 will be be slightly thicker than the original iPad mini to accommodate the new high resolution Retina Display.

Faster Processor

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iPad mini 2 will most likely be powered by the A7 chip that powers iPhone 5s. The highlight of the A7 chip is the 64-bit “desktop-class” architecture. The A7 chip CPU will be significantly faster than the A5 chip that powers the original iPad.

Apart from the CPU, the A7 chip also includes a new GPU that supports OpenGL ES 3.0, a graphical library extensively used in games and photography apps. Support for OpenGL ES 3.0 would mean more detailed and complex graphics, previously seen only on PCs, Macs and consoles. We expect the GPU to also be significantly faster than the A5 chip.

The M7 coprocessor may also be part of the package, but it won’t be as important in the iPad as it is in the iPhone.

Apple had used the A5 chip from the 2011 iPad 2 in the original iPad, so using the A7 chip in the iPad mini would be welcome change in strategy. iPad 5 is expected to be powered by the A7X chip, a variant of the A7 chip.

RAM:

The A7 chip comes with 1GB RAM, which would be twice the RAM available in the original iPad mini, which has only 512MB RAM.

Improved Camera:

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We expect iPad mini 2 to come with an all-new iSight rear camera and front-facing FaceTime camera. According to latest rumors, iPad mini 2 will come with an 8-megapixel camera.

It however remains to be seen if Apple will use the 8-megapixel camera used in the iPhone 5s or it will use the one used in iPhone 5c and iPhone 5. Apple has typically used the camera from the previous generation iPhone. So I think it would be latter.

Leaked iPad mini 2 rear casing also indicate that Apple is unlikely to include Flash in the new iPad mini, which is a pity as it has been one of the major drawbacks of iPad’s camera.

Touch ID

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One of the major new features of iPhone 5s is the Touch ID fingerprint sensor. We’ve heard conflicting reports of the possibility of the Touch ID fingerprint sensor making its way to the iPad mini 2.

As an iPhone 5s owner, really hope that the Touch ID makes its way to the iPad mini 2. It is so convenient to be able to unlock my device and authorize iTunes purchases with the press of my finger. I am so used to it already that I hate unlocking my original iPad mini with a passcode.

However, iPad mini 2 may not come with a fingerprint sensor if the supply of sapphire and other materials for the fingerprint sensor are limited. If Apple can’t make enough Touch ID modules to meet the demand for the iPhone 5s, it is highly unlikely it will release another device with the same technology.

It is also possible that Apple may want to keep the Touch ID as an exclusive feature for the iPhone 5s, it’s flagship phone.

Improved LTE support:

We expect iPad mini 2 to support 13 LTE bands (iPad mini supported a max of 5 LTE bands) like the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c. So the iPad mini 2 will be most likely be compatible with your carrier’s LTE network.

Battery Life

We haven’t heard any rumors on this front. It is going to be a huge challenge for Apple to offer the same or better battery life in iPad mini 2 compared to the original model. Apple has managed to do it when it added Retina Display to the iPhone and 9.7-inch iPad, so I won’t be surprised if Apple manages to do it again thanks to power efficient A7 chip. Apple may also be able to squeeze in a slightly bigger battery due to the marginal increase in thickness, and by making the components smaller and more compact.

Colors

Recent rumors and leaked parts suggest the iPad mini 2 will get a splash of color like the iPhone 5s. We likely won’t see the pastels of the iPhone 5c, but we will probably get silver and space grey color options. Though we’ve seen leaked iPad mini casing in gold, latest rumors suggest that Apple may not offer a gold color option for iPad mini 2 due to low yield rates.

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Storage Capacities

We expect the iPad mini 2 to be available in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB, just like the original iPad mini.

iOS 7.1

According to rumors, iPad mini 2 may come pre-installed with iOS 7.1. Unlike last year, Apple hasn’t seeded iOS 7.1 beta to developers yet, so have no idea about the new features.

iOS 7 has been quite buggy on the iPad, so we expect Apple to iron out all the issues in iOS 7.1. It remains to be seen if Apple will surprise us by adding support for multiple user account, which has been on our wish list ever since Apple launched the iPad. I think Apple will introduce the feature only if Touch ID makes it to the feature list.

Pricing

We expect the iPad mini 2 to cost the same as the original iPad mini, though there have been some whispers that the Retina iPad mini may cost more, so the 16GB, 32GB and 64GB iPad mini Wi-Fi only models will be available for $329, $429 and $529 respectively, and the 16GB, 32GB and 64GB iPad mini with Wi-Fi+Cellular to be available for $459, $559 and $659 respectively.

With the launch of iPad mini 2, I expect Apple to offer 16GB iPad mini 1 Wi-Fi only model in the $249 – $279 price range as the new entry level iPad, and the Wi-Fi+Cellular model costing an additional $130.

Release date

We expect Apple to start taking pre-orders for iPad mini 2 from October 25, followed by the launch on November 1st.

Conclusion

iPad mini 2 with Retina Display, faster 64-bit A7 chip with 1GB RAM and vastly improved camera system should make it a significant upgrade even for the original iPad mini users.

It will be interesting to see which of these features and improvements make it to Apple’s 2nd generation iPad mini and if Apple has any other major surprises in store for us.

We’ll be live blogging the event so don’t forget to join us at 10am PT or 1pm ET or 6pm GMT on Tuesday, October 22nd. Until then, please let me know which features will convince you to buy iPad mini 2 in the comments section below.

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