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.

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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