The fifth-generation iPad (which should emerge in March 2013) will be 4mm shorter, 16mm narrower, and 2mm thinner than the fourth-gen iPad — in other words, it’ll look a lot like the iPad Mini, with its narrower portrait bezel. By losing 2mm in depth, the iPad 5 would be just 7.4mm. This size reduction will reduce the weight of the iPad 5, but it might also impact battery life, unless Apple has a trick up its sleeve. It’s possible that Apple could reveal an A7 SoC in March, based on some kind of 28nm process (perhaps in association with TSMC), but unlikely.
The iPad Mini 2 is probably a more exciting proposition. If the rumors are correct, this diminutive iPad will feature a 2048×1536 (326 PPI) display and the bleeding-edge A6X SoC. This would mean that the iPad Mini 2 would have the same hardware spec as the iPad 4 — but half the weight and half the price. Suffice it to say, if the iPad Mini wasn’t exciting enough to divert attention away from the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire, then this second generation certainly would be. According to the Chinese site Zol, the release date of the second-gen iPad Mini isn’t yet known. It will probably be March 2013, or perhaps on its first birthday in November.
To be honest, though, these leaked specs sound a little too good. Apple’s last few product refreshes have focused more on gradual evolution (i.e. milking profits) than making huge technological leaps. At the moment there is a clear technological gap between the full-size iPad and the Mini — this rumored iPad Mini 2 would basically mean the iPad’s only advantage is a slightly larger screen. But who knows: If Apple feels threatened in the 7-inch tablet space, then an overpowered iPad Mini 2 would be a very good way of silencing the critics.
Meanwhile, of course, Apple stock is currently enjoying its worst ever period of trading, plummeting from a high of $700 per share in September down to $500 in December. There’s a mix of reasons for this precipitous fall, but it mostly seems to revolve around the belief that the iDevices have probably hit their peak. This is borne out by reports from Apple’s supply chain that the iPhone 5 is not selling as well as the iPhone 4S. With iDevices at their zenith, and no other revolutionary device seemingly on the horizon (except perhaps the Apple iTV), investors are concerned about the future growth of Apple.
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