Apple's iPad mini: What to expect?

With Apple expected to unveil the iPad mini in a little more than 24 hours, I dust off my crystal ball and come up with a few last minute predictions based on rumors and supply chain chatter.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

My readers love to challenge me, especially my ability to predict the future. The Hardware 2.0 mailbox is stuffed with requests such as the one below:

Any last minute predictions about what the iPad mini will be like?

Time to once again blow the dust off my crystal ball and see if I can come up with some predictions as to what tomorrow's Apple event will bring.

I have to be honest; I'm not expecting an awful lot of innovation from Apple. At its core, I expect the iPad mini to look and feel like a regular iPad hit with a shrink ray. Don't expect any radical revamping of how the tablet will look. All the rumors and supply chain chatter points to a tablet with a 7.85-inch display. For app compatibility, the display will retain the 4:3 aspect ratio of the current iPad. The word is that the display will have a screen resolution of 1024 x 768, the same as found on the iPad 2. This means that it won't feature a Retina display.

As to predicting a price, this is tricky, as it is possibly the key as to whether the iPad mini is a success or a runaway success.

There are several good reasons why Apple would choose to avoid going with a Retina display at this stage. First, it helps keep costs down. A standard display will also be thinner and lighter than a Retina display, and also require a smaller, lighter battery.

As for models offered, I expect that Apple will avoid offering an 8GB model, and instead go with 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB capacities. I expect all capacities to be offered with "Wi-Fi" and "Wi-Fi + Cellular" connectivity. Cellular versions will undoubtedly support at least 3G networking.

There's little doubt that the iPad mini will make use of Apple's new Lightning 8-pin connector, and the cellular models will use a nano-SIM. Both front and rear cameras are highly likely.

As to what processor, the A5X used to power the full-sized iPad is certainly powerful enough, but the A6 used to power the iPhone might be a better options given that it is likely to be more power efficient. Apple has a lot of chip know-how, so it could kit the iPad mini out with something bespoke.

7 reasons not to wait for Apple's iPad mini

As to predicting a price, this is tricky, as it is possibly the key as to whether the iPad mini is a success (with Apple selling millions by the end of the year) or a runaway success (where Apple sells tens of millions by the end of the year). The idea that the iPad mini will be a flop is not even on my radar. Given Apple's liking of healthy profit margins, don't expect this tablet to come in at $199. My money is on the base model being listed at around -- 10 percent either side of -- $299.

Apple will augment this price with overpriced smart covers, along with other accessories.

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