Once upon a time, Apple was really good at keeping secrets. But these days, the notoriously hush-hush company seems to be leaking. By the time the iPhone 5 launched on Sept. 12, for example, a year's worth of rumors and leaks had demystified the device so thoroughly that the tech press was resoundingly unimpressed with the final product. Now, a similar thing is happening with what tech insiders have christened the iPad Mini — seen as Apple's attempt to swat down competitors in the exploding 7-inch tablet market — and bloggers are spilling details. Apple is holding an official event at 10 a.m. (PT) on Tuesday, Oct. 23 in San Jose, Calif. — an event the tech titan announced with a cryptic invite simply reading: "We've got a little more to show you." What kind of features might a new, smaller, cheaper slab possibly boast? Here, seven rumors:
1. A heftier price tag
Initial reports teased that a smaller iPad would cost somewhere from $250 to $300, putting it in direct competition with Google's Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire HD. The blog 9to5 Mac, however, has some bad news for folks eyeing a steep discount: The base model iPad Mini will likely start at $329 here in the United States. That's "considerably higher than the $199 entry level price" of the competition, says Mark Gurman at 9to5 Mac. However, because of Apple's enticing ecosystem of iPad-optimized apps, "the premium will likely be worth the money for a lot of people this holiday season."
2. A 7.85-inch screen
BoLoPad, a Chinese tech site, has published photographs of what is allegedly Apple's iPad Mini. The slab in their photos is 7.85 inches — significantly smaller than the current iPad's 9.7 inches, but slightly bigger than other budget-friendly competitors. Numerous leaks on similar sites have corroborated the screen size.
3. Retina display
Some tech junkies assume that a new, smaller iPad will run Apple's Retina display, which makes the latest iPad's screen super-sharp. Competitors like the Nexus 7 and Amazon's newly revealed Kindle Fire HD boast similarly impressive resolutions. However, Apple could easily go with the iPad 2's less "resolutionary" display to keep costs down.
4. Aluminum casing
The BoLoPad "photos show a device with an aluminum shell," says Angela Moscaritolo at PC Mag. Indeed, this gadget looks awfully similar to the full-sized $499 iPad, "only smaller." The aluminum backing features the familiar black Apple logo and iPad moniker, plus what's apparently a hole for a rear-facing camera. And the French technology website NoWhereElse also has pictures of the purported slab, suggesting that the body is thinner yet slightly wider than Google's Nexus 7 tablet.
5. The insides of an iPad 2
Using the iPad 2's slightly slower A5 processor in the iPad Mini would continue "Apple's (and especially Tim Cook's) time-tested strategy of extending the life of already-developed technology by continuing to sell it, just cheaper," says Kyle Wagner at Gizmodo. This could be problematic, however, as the chip "might not be powerful enough" to support a potential Retina display.
6. The new Lightning connector
Critics panned the iPhone 5's new dock connector, dubbed Lightning, as the handset's "one incredibly irksome" feature. However, switching to a smaller connection allows Apple to pack more inside each of its devices, and it appears the alleged iPad Mini will continue the trend. Pictures suggest the Lightning port on the bottom will be "flanked by two speaker ports, says Don Reisinger at CNET.
7. 3G... or WiFi-only?
The website UkrainePhone allegedly obtained photos showing details of the tiny tablet's inner-workings, including a NanoSim tray, "which is the first evidence of 3G support in the iPad Mini," says Jesus Diaz at Gizmodo. If that turns out to be true, the iPad Mini would run on older, more antiquated cellular networks, making it slower than even the iPhone 5. However, British newspaper The Guardian reported in early October that the iPad Mini will likely be WiFi-only, according to multiple unnamed sources. If true, says Nathan Eddy at eWeek, consumers will surely be disappointed. A survey earlier this year from Pricegrabber found that 52 percent of participants would consider purchasing a smaller iPad for $250 to $300, but "3G wireless network connectivity was among the most-anticipated features."
This story was originally published on Sept. 19, 2012. It was last updated on Oct. 22, 2012.
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