While nothing is set in stone, rumors continue to suggest that Apple will release two brand new iPads later this year including a new third-generation iPad mini that at the moment is being called iPad mini 3. We still don’t know everything about the next iPad mini, but there enough iPad mini 3 rumors out there to make a solid, early comparison to Apple’s current version of its 7.9-inch tablet.
At the end of October, shortly after it announced the iPhone 5s, Apple took the stage and announced two brand new iPads. One of those iPads was the new iPad Air, a slim, lightweight version of the company’s iconic 9.7-inch slate. The iPad Air was a huge step up from the iPad 4, the company’s fourth-generation iPad that arrived the year before.
The other iPad was the iPad mini with Retina Display, a device that consumers had been waiting for since the arrival of the first iPad mini back in the fall of 2012. The iPad mini with Retina Display, along with the iPad Air, served as the company’s top notch iPad options during the holiday season and they remain Apple’s top iPad options as we head deeper into the fall.
And while these two iPads remain amongst the best on the market. rumors out of Cupertino suggest that Apple is working on replacements for both of its 2013 iPads.
While the Apple rumor mill has been dominated by iPhone 6 rumors, we have seen a number of other rumors and leaks surface in the last few months. Rumors point to the arrival of a new iWatch, a new iPad Air 2 and yes, a new iPad mini 3, an iPad mini third-generation. All of these devices are expected to debut ahead of Black Friday and the holiday shopping season.
In recent weeks, iPad mini 3 rumors have started to firm up and here, we want to take an early look at what rumors are telling us about it and its relationship with the current model. Think of this as an early guide for those that might be in the market for a smaller-screen tablet and an iPad in particular.
The iPad mini with Retina Display comes with a beautiful aluminum design that is both lightweight (341g) and thin (7.5mm). After spending several months with the device we’ve also found that it’s quite durable. The iPad mini with Retina Display boasts one of the premier tablet designs on the market and it’s simply a joy to use.
It’s so good in fact, that Apple apparently sees no reason to change it. Perhaps it’s taking a “if it’s not broke, why fix it” type of mentality. Rumors and leaks suggest that the next iPad mini will come with a design that mirrors the current one.
Ming-Chi Kuo, the man who accurately predicted many of the iPhone 5s, iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina Display features, believes it will retain the same design. In late June, we saw an alleged photo of the iPad mini 3 leak out and while its hard to pinpoint details, the frame looks a whole lot like last year’s design. It also looks smaller than the iPad Air mockup that’s in the photo.
While we could perhaps see some tweaks, maybe the biggest change will be Touch ID. Touch ID is rumored to be on board the iPhone 6 and both of Apple’s rumored iPads. Many rumors back up TouchID support in the iPad Air 2 and the new iPad mini Retina update for 2014. With enhanced iOS 8 Touch ID support, including third-party apps, this is a feature we expect to see on all of Apple’s mobile products this year.
The iPad mini with Retina Display’s, well, Retina Display, is one of the best screens in the business and provides 7.9-inches of gorgeous real estate for gaming, watching movies and getting work done while on-the-go. And while screen technology is certainly pushing forward, it appears that Apple is content with its display from last year.
Kuo believes that the device will retain the same screen size and resolution as Apple focuses in on incremental improvements under the hood. Again, this should not be looked at as a bad thing. The Retina Display can hang with the best displays on the market.
Camera & Processor
Every year, Apple offers hardware upgrades to its flagship devices. Those become even more important when a device is considered an incremental upgrade over its predecessor.
The iPad mini 3 is rumored to have a few key changes under the hood to go along with the Touch ID fingerprint sensor embedded in its home button. Rumors suggest that the device will have a new A8 64-bit processor that will help to provide better battery life and better all-around performance, something that is crucial on a device like the iPad mini. Last year’s iPad mini with Retina Display utilizes an A7 64-bit chip.
The other upgrade could be a new camera sensor. The current iPad mini with Retina Display uses a 5MP camera that can shoot decent photos and video but it looks like its successor could offer some improvements. Kuo believes that the iPad mini 3 will have an 8MP rear camera though it’s not clear which sensor might be involved.
Those details should start to firm up as Apple continues to whittle down its exactly specifications and as we move closer to the device’s supposed iPad mini 3 launch date. The A8 seems to be a lock at this point though.
The iPad mini with Retina Display will get the iOS 8 update later in this year. As of right now, it looks like it will get the full version of the software which means that it could see the changes to the Notification Center, changes to the Camera application, and perhaps the split-screen multitasking feature that will be a part of iOS 8 later this year.
The feature, which can be seen in the video below, will allow users to run multiple applications on the screen at the same time. It’s unannounced which means that there is a slight chance Apple could reserve it for the iPad mini 3 and iPad Air 2 but that of course remains unconfirmed at this point.
One thing of note: The iPad mini 3 should, based on Apple’s history, get at least one more iOS update than last year’s model. Apple tends to keep devices updated for three to four years before kicking them to the curb. The iPad 2, for instance, will be getting the iOS 8 update in the fall.
We’re still months away from the device’s rumored arrival which means that many aspects remain a mystery. While we’ve heard a bit about its specifications, we haven’t heard too much about how much it will cost.
Kuo believes that Apple will drop the price of the current iPad mini with Retina Display when the new model arrives. It could be that last year’s model slots in at Apple’s $299 price point to take on Google’s armada of Android tablets while the iPad mini 3 sits at the current $399 starting price point.
Rumors suggest that Google has a high-end Nexus 8 up its sleeve and that it could be priced at $399 to compete with the iPad mini. Like the iPad mini 3, the Nexus 8 remains shrouded in mystery.
iPad mini 3 Release Date
All signs point to an iPad mini 3 release this fall alongside a number of new products. The timing makes sense given that iOS 8 won’t be out until sometime in the autumn. iOS 8 release rumors put the update in September.
Apple’s rumored to have launch events in September and October, October rumored to be its iWatch launch event, so it’s possible that we could see the iPad mini 3 replace the current model in the same October to November window. At the very least, it’s looking like consumers are going to have to contend with this model for at least a while longer.
All signs point down the same road. It’s looking like Apple will release an incremental upgrade to the iPad Air and iPad mini with Touch ID, the A8 processor and a brand new camera.
If you care about these three features, the added security of Touch ID, the potential of the A8 and improved photos and video on a tablet, it might be worth the wait. For many others, the current model is going to do just fine. Just make sure you get a deal on it, this is a device that is closing in on its first birthday.
We’ve seen a number of deals swirling around that should help with that.