Does the iPhone 5 offer insights into what the iPad 4 or iPad mini might offer?

Does the iPhone 5 offer insights into what the iPad 4 or iPad mini might offer?

Summary: What clues does the iPhone 5 give us as to what the iPad 4 or iPad mini might have to offer? Quite a lot as it turns out, as the improvements carried out to Cupertino's flagship smartphone are far from skin deep, and many would translate well to a tablet.

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Question from today's Hardware 2.0 mailbox:

Does the hardware and form factor changes present in the recently released iPhone 5 give us any clues as to what the iPad 4 or iPad mini might have to offer?

There's no doubt that there's a symbiotic relationship between the iPhone and the iPad, with one being used as a testing ground for technology in the other -- and it's usually it's the iPhone that leads the way. With all the talk of the iPad mini landing soon, and the iPad 4 looming on the horizon, it's a good time to do a bit of prognosticating.

Let's take a tour of some of the new hardware features present in the iPhone 5 and see which might make it into the iPad 4 or the mythical iPad mini.

Lightning dock connector

One of the most disruptive changes brought to the table by the iPhone 5 is the Lightning dock connector. Gone is the old 30-pin connector that served for the iPod, iPhone and iPad for almost a decade, and in its place is the new double-sided 8-pin connector.

It made sense for Apple to finally dump the old 30-pin connector. It was a product of a different era. Big, clumsy, fiddly, and containing a number of now obsolete pins. The new Lightning connector is smaller, easier to use, and far more advanced. It gives Apple a lot more flexibility in terms of connectivity, and leaves more room inside the new iPhone and iPod touch for other more important stuff.

I have no doubt that Apple will extend this connector to the iPad 4, and that it will be present of the iPad mini -- if that ever makes an appearance.

Nano-SIM

With the iPhone 5 Apple decided that the micro-SIM -- which was first introduced on the iPhone 4 -- was too big and replaced it with the even smaller nano-SIM.

I can't come up with a single compelling reason why Apple should take this tiny SIM card and try and use it on the iPad 4 or iPad mini. While space isn't as much of a concern inside the iPad, it doesn't make sense for Apple to fragment SIM usage among device.

Updated processor

At the core of the iPhone 5 is the revamped A6 system-on-a-chip (SoC). It features a dual-core 1.3 GHz custom Apple-designed ARMv7 CPU, and triple-core PowerVR SGX 543MP3. The current iPad 3 uses an A5X processor -- an upgraded A5 found in the iPhone 4S but with a quad-core GPU boost.

I suspect that while the CPU in the A6 is powerful enough for the iPad 4, I would expect Apple to add at least one extra GPU core. As for the iPad mini, the A6 may be powerful enough as is to run this tablet, given that is has a smaller screen -- especially if that screen not a Retina display panel.

In-cell display

Another new feature present in the Phone 5 is the in-cell display. While traditional displays comprised of three different components -- the LCD itself, the touchscreen layer, and the protective glass -- in-cell technology combines the LCD and touchscreen layers into a single layer.

The main advantage of in-cell technology is that it allows the display to be thinner and lighter, two of Apple's greatest obsessions, and the reason why I expect the next slew of iPads to feature this technology.

Worldwide 4G

While the iPad 3 has support for 4G LTE within the U.S., it didn't support 4G networks in other countries, such as the U.K. and Australia. This has been fixed in the iPhone 5, with the Qualcomm RTR8600 found in the iPad 3 being replaced by the much more capable Qualcomm MDM9615M LTE modem.

Again, there's no reason why Apple won't use this LTE modem -- of an update of it -- in the next iPad.

Screen aspect ratio

Prior to the iPhone 5, the every iPhone had a screen resolution of 1.5:1. With the move to the 4-inch screen, Apple shifted to a 16:9 aspect ratio which allowed it to keep the width of the iPhone the same. 16:9 is the standard aspect ratio for of HD-TV, non-HD digital television and analog widescreen television, and as such the ratio is ideal for video.

The iPad has a 4:3 aspect ratio. It is this that gives the iPad that distinctive tablet shape. But Android tablets are usually 16:9 or 16:10, so there would be a precedent for making the switch. There are even rumors suggesting that the next iPad will indeed be 16:9, although there is no hard evidence as yet to support this.

A change of aspect ratio would also give the iPad a new look, something which Apple strives for every so often.

Image source: Apple, iFixit [2, 3].

Topics: iPhone, Apple, iPad, Smartphones, Tablets

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18 comments
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  • Sue??

    >Again, there's no reason why Apple won't sue this LTE modem -- of an update of it -- in the next iPad.<

    Sue...or a little dyslexia set in...USE. I have the same problem with tow...er...two.
    Dr Phil of Crap
  • Sounds pretty spot-on

    The upgrades in this article all seem to be pretty obvious and should make their way into the iPad 4 and the so-called iPad Mini.

    However, these upgrades are a given. Processor and screen are things that are always upgraded regardless of type of hardware or manufacturer. Apple needs to deliver to us the next "WOW" thing that will get consumers raving about their products again like when the original iPhone was first unveiled. Until then, Apple is just milking the same cow. Theyll continue making money off of it, but it'll only last so much longer.
    Flor Bogs
    • Next big thing is needed..

      Completely agree. We largely know what the Ipad 4 and Ipad Mini will likely deliver...Ipad 4 will have latest cpu/resolution/memory upgrades...ipad mini may be one generation behind for cost and price mgmt....

      As a true apple fan and loyalist, I can even say that Apple needs to start offering more innovation both in terms of hardware and iOS innovation. Apple seems to be largely content on just making incremental upgrades with their core devices....so the innovation may be truly found in their next line of products...true tv/watches, etc...
      d_anders
      • Yeah

        Its the same internet no matter the device. I need something NEW!

        I want Apple to bring back dead people, imagine reincarnating Bonnie & Clyde, now that would WOW me.
        dougvb@...
  • 4k resolution

    Google and Samsung are trying to one up iPad 3 with better resolution. What better way to face them than going 16:9 and 4k resolution (UltraHD or 3840x2160). Also with that they can push the TV industry towards 4k.
    samirsshah@...
    • 4K is 10 years away from broad adoption....

      Good point...I could see Apple pushing things this way, but 4K will be the standard for high end theatres, but it's at least 10 years away from broad home TV market adoption....
      d_anders
    • God knows...

      All the TV makers need something new to get people to replace the big LCD/LED/Plasma TVs they've purchased over the last few years. 3D certainly didn't seem to take off like they all were banking on.

      Realistically, is there really a point to ultraHD at this point on TVs? Don't most HD broadcasts come via 720 and not 1080? But, then again, that would bump up the file size of content, which could make streaming more difficult. That certainly plays into the hands of the cable companies by keeping people on cable and the production companies by forcing people to keep buying movies on physical media.

      Me? My 720 50" plasma still provides a more than satisfactory picture.
      TroyMcClure
  • Another device to rip-off consumers

    What is next, ipad-Nano?
    owlllnet
    • Rip off?

      Comments like this are just obviously troll-like. You DO realize you NEVER have to buy a product right? You complain about new products or ideas for new products and then pronounce them a rip-off automatically. Where is your basis in reality? I don't own an iPad because I choose not to buy one right now. You don't get "ripped off" if you don't want to. Simple as that. You are not entitled to own ANYTHING and if you want to buy something, you know the price for it. Simple as that. What you THINK you should pay for something has no basis in reality. Quit complaining about things you will never buy anyways.
      Stormborn
  • Ipad Mini may be just an Ipad2 spec'd device...remember, price

    Given the points on Ipad (4th Gen), I agree it's logical they same or greater spec's...that said, typically the Ipad's take some leadership in terms of timing and Apple puts their next line of proc's into them...to see how they perform....

    That said, Ipad Mini may be just an Ipad2 spec'd device...remember, cost and price is critical in this space...And some of the rumors out on the device note Apple is looking to provide a lower priced product....and the screen resolution on the Ipad Mini will likely match the Ipad2 in order to work within the resolution/screen requirements of the 7.85 inch device. That said, if an Ipad4 is coming then the processor of the mini may be the same as the current Ipad 3 gen....

    Following this point, Apple needs to insure that they also don't cannabilize larger Ipad sales...so it only makes logical sense that the Ipad mini specs are one generation behind the newest full size ipad....just like the new Ipod Touch specs are also one generation behind (with exception of the screen size)...Ipod touch is using the same A5 processor as the Iphone 4s.
    d_anders
  • Why would Apple wanna make

    an oversized iPod touch? Yeah I didn't think so. Also having the 4:3 aspect ratio allows for multiple orientations Ever wonder why the other (wannabe) tablets all are stuck in landscape? It may work for watching movies in 16:9, but 9:16 is practically useless for everything.
    Troll Hunter J
    • 16:9 vs 9:16

      Ahh, reading...books, web pages, etc.
      d_anders
      • 9:16

        will not allow a whole page to be displayed, especially on a 10" device. 16:9 on a 27" display will allow for nearly a two page layout (30" displays work even better). but looking at a 9:16 display would frustrate people to no great end. I think the iPhone 5 will suck i portrait orientation for reading web pages. And what good is a device when it's so limited?
        Troll Hunter J
  • 7.85" and 16:9... There is a reason

    A 16:9 aspect 7.85" (200 mm) display is just narrow enough, if the border on the long edges is minimized like a phone, to fit in a suit coat inside pocket... In other words, this is just about the biggest display you can fit in your pocket.

    Apple usually doesn't do a new device just to fill a blank spot in their product line. The frequently have something extra to add to the market that their competitors haven't thought of yet. Could this be it?
    z2217
  • but?

    http://goodtechsystems.com/samsung-introduced-a-music-smartphone-galaxy-music/
    natashakabalish
  • 16:9 vs 4:3

    I think 4:3 is better for reading pdfs of ordinary paper documents. Trim 1/2 inch off each side of an 8.5 by 11 inch page, and the ratio is, well, 4:3. Not that you would do that, but it does illustrate that that paper size is closer to 4:3 than 16:9, and A4 paper is closer to 4:3 too.
    stephen.bryant@...
  • Disagree on microsim

    If the Nano-Sim is the way the cell phone industry is moving, I doubt Apple wouldn't use it on the iPad. Apple already has the supply line for the Nano-Sim connectors and card so I would bet its in the new iPad. Its probably cheaper and the hardware is smaller. No reason for the iPad to keep using a technology that already is starting end of life.
    Animal13
  • ffff

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