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For over three years the smallest member of the iPad line-up has not received an update, but according to new rumors, that could soon be set to change.
Since late last year speculation has been increasing that Apple is set to reinvest in its 7.9-inch model, with the release of an all-new iPad Mini in the first half of this year.
So, will there be a new iPad Mini in 2019? Let’s weigh the possibility.
The last refresh of the iPad Mini came in September 2015, but since then there’s been little to report on when it comes to upgrades.
That prompted speculation the device may be on its way out, and possibly removed entirely from the Apple iPad family.
Then late last year, the rumor mill fired up.
In October, renowned analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said a new mini was in the works, but predicted if it wasn’t announced at the Apple media event on October 30, it would be unveiled early this year.
Sources also reportedly told the China Business Times Apple would launch two low-priced models of the iPad in 2019, one being a new 9.7-inch and the other being the Mini, with the latter due to arrive in the first half of the year.
Then on January 8, more fuel was added to the fire, when 9to5 Mac reported a possible iPad Mini leak.
“New photos shared online appear to show an unreleased version of Apple’s iPad mini tablet with design characteristics not seen on hardware that Apple has sold to date,” they stated.
“The images appear amid rumors that Apple is planning to release a fifth-generation iPad mini sometime over the next few months.”
So, what’s likely to feature in a new iPad Mini?
iPad mini 4s I think we can call it like this.🙄 pic.twitter.com/DvLJZ22nYO
— Mr·white (@laobaiTD) January 8, 2019
Should a new iPad Mini be unveiled it will mark the 5th generation of the 7.9-inch device. As MacWorld reflects, when it was first launched in 2015 it was a hugely popular innovation. So, what would Apple do to upgrade the Mini?
When Kuo predicted a new Mini, he noted it would come with an upgraded processor, and a lower cost panel.
The processor is a natural improvement and the panel stands to reason as Apple may well be looking to lower the entry price of any Mini. At the moment, the iPad Mini 4 costs more than the 9.7-inch model after Apple cut the price for the standard size iPad last year in a bid to lure the education sector.
The entry level Mini 4 currently retails for US$399 (AU$569), while the iPad 9.7-inch starts off at US$329 (AU$469).
Meanwhile, those allegedly leaked photographs of the new Mini also indicate there could be other concessions on any upcoming model.
Macworld notes an image of the internals may indicate there is no FaceID, while others speculate TouchID hardware is also missing.
In good news however, there does appear to be a 3.5mm headphone jack, and lightning connector port. It’s unclear whether Apple would follow on from the iPad Pro and remove the home button, thereby increasing the screen size.
The past few months have seen a lot of noise about the possible launch of an iPad Mini 5, making it look increasingly likely.
If those same rumours are to be believed the new Mini could be unveiled within the next few months.
What remains to be seen is how Apple will offer a point of difference for users looking to choose between the iPad 9.7 and the 7.9-inch iPad Mini, and indeed whether there’s still a market for the device when the 9.7 currently retails at such an affordable price.