The iPad Air and iPad mini Retina may see a small update in 2014 that adds a fingerprint unlock feature, new processor and a camera upgrade. The new iPad Air release date for 2014 may also come earlier than the 2013 release, but not likely in time to make the back to school sales that kick off in August and September. We also hear about an iPad Pro, or iPad with a 12.9-inch display.
Apple introduced the iPad Air in late October 2012 and started selling the new iPad Air in November. Apple announced the iPad mini Retina at the same event, but did not sell the device until later in November. The iPad Air retails for $499 and up and the iPad mini with Retina Display starts at $399 with higher prices for more storage and LTE models.
As part of the iPad Air and iPad mini Retina announcements Apple dropped the price of the iPad mini to $299 for the non-Retina model, and
Since the announcement Apple made one change to the iPad lineup, by killing off the iPad 2 and adding the iPad 4 back to the lineup as a $399 full size iPad with a 9.7-inch display.
The iPad Air and iPad mini Retina are essentially the same tablet with different screen sizes. Both use the Apple A7 processor, offer about 10 hours of battery life and are good for work and play. This strategy appears to work well, and a this new report outlines a similar update for both tablets.
Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities shared a detailed Apple 2014 update roadmap this week which includes a lot of iPhone 6 details, and nothing about an iPod touch 6th generation, but there is a collection of details about new iPads for 2014. Kuo is a well-known analyst with a good track record for sharing Apple’s plans well ahead of an official announcement. His predictions for the iPhone 5s were not perfect, but painted a very detailed picture of the device Apple announced.
In this new report shared on MacRumors, Kuo outlines what he thinks Apple plans for iPad releases in 2014, and one larger iPad that might not arrive this year.
Apple added Touch ID to the iPhone 5s in 2013, allowing users to unlock the iPhone with the press of a finger. After fixing some Touch ID issues with iOS 7.1 Apple appears ready to deliver this easier to use security tool to the iPad Air an iPad mini Retina in 2014.
The video above shows how Touch ID works on the iPhone 5s. The small metal ring around the home button plays a role in turning the sensor on when a finger touches the home button, which means the iPad Air and iPad mini will likely see this small ring added to a new home button.
There is no Touch ID support in the iPad Air and iPad mini Retina devices at this time. Samsung added a fingerprint sensor to the Galaxy S5 this Spring, but it is a swipe sensor rather than one that reads when the finger is placed in one spot. These iPad models could be the first consumer tablets with a fingerprint sensor that sell at a high volume.
New iPad Air Release Date
Apple shifted the iPad release date in 2013, moving from a Spring iPad release to a fall announcement with availability in time for the holidays. Apple switched this up in 2012 with the iPad 4, which came nearly seven months after the iPad 2 with very minor upgrades, but there was still a lot of speculation for a new iPad in the early parts of 2013.
Apple is likely planning a fall iPad Air 2 release date, but Kuo believes Apple is planning to sell the new iPad Air earlier than November. A new iPad mini Retina release would likely arrive at a similar time.
Camera & Processor
The iPad Air 2 and new iPad mini Retina will likely see similar spec upgrades later this year according to the report. Both of the current models use the Apple A7 processor, and it looks like Apple will drop an Apple A8 processor into each device. The benefits of a new Apple A8 processor are unknown, but Apple typically boosts overall performance, graphical performance and leverages power for other features.
The report also suggests Apple will upgrade the rear-facing camera on both iPad models to a 8MP sensor. The iPhone 5s features an 8MP sensor and Kuo believes the iPhone 6 will use a 8MP sensor in 2014 as well. It is possible this will be the same sensor, or at least a similar one.
iPad Mini Retina Price Drop
The iPad mini Retina arrived with a price bump from the first generation, commanding a $400 price tag for the higher resolution display.
According to Kuo’s report the iPad mini Retina 2014 model could arrive with a price cut. If this happens, it is unclear what Apple will do with the current iPad mini Retina model or the iPad mini it sells at $299. It would make sense to see one of these models stay on as a cheaper iPad to compete with the Nexus 7 on price.
What will a 2014 iPad Air look like? Well, according to this report shoppers shouldn’t expect much of a change. The iPad Air design from late 2013 was a change and Apple is not quick to change up iPad designs.
If anything look for Apple to slightly adjust the thickness or weight of the iPad Air 2014 and iPad mini Retina 2014 models, but to keep the same overall look and finish.
The larger 12.9-inch iPad which rumors continue to point to will not likely arrive this year according to Kuo. He claims Apple is working on it for entertainment and productivity markets, which is similar to how Samsung positions the Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 tablet.