Over the weekend photos of what appears to be the back of the iPad Mini surfaced on Chinese social network Sina Weibo.
The photos show an iPad-like aluminum shell with an Apple logo and the iPad name on the lower portion of the case. Notably there is no camera opening on the back of the iPad Mini.
We’ve seen leaked iPad Mini schematics and cases, which include a camera opening, but these leaks are far from confirmed. The iPad Mini engineering sample we published in July did not include a look at the back of the iPad Mini.
While many believe the rumored iPad Mini will ship with a front and rear facing camera, it is possible that Apple will drop the camera to cut costs of the unit. Asus did not include a camera in the Nexus 7 due to the increased price and poor quality. Apple is known for high profit margins, and could theoretically keep the camera off the first generation iPad Mini to reduce the cost.
The iPad Mini is said to retail in the $300 price range when released this fall. In order to keep the bill of materials (BOM) and manufacturing cost in line with the rest of the iPad models, Apple will need to produce the iPad Mini for $147 to $189.
The less than spectacular New iPad 3rd generation camera costs Apple an estimated $12.35, 3-4% of the total cost of the new iPad.
For the iPad Mini to have a camera we would actually want to use in public, Apple would need to include the camera from the iPhone 4S. Apple paid $17.60 per unit in October 2011. This camera would make up nearly 6% of the cost of an iPad Mini at $299.
While I hope Apple includes a rear facing camera on the iPad Mini, it could choose to leave on off the first generation iPad Mini to hit the $300 price point. iPad Mini competitors, like the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire do not include rear facing cameras.
Based on the competition, cost and a desire to differentiate products, Apple could ship the iPad Mini without a camera, adding it as a feature on the second generation.
I won’t use an iPad Mini as my primary camera, but a good rear facing camera is important for capturing notes and other information I want to store in Evernote and other services.