In case you missed the 347 independently confirmed reports from newspapers and blogs around the world, Apple plans to unveil a brand new second-generation iPad mini on Tuesday during its press conference in San Francisco, California. Try to at least act a little surprised. We have already gone over everything to expect from Apple’s fifth-generation full-size iPad, and now it’s the new iPad mini’s turn for a roundup. Just like the iPad — and just like every other device Apple launches — we have seen persistent leaks and rumors for months leading up to the tablet’s debut. Is Apple prepping a significant update worth getting excited about, or are we looking at another update like the iPhone 5s that is a huge overhaul and yet ends up being somewhat lackluster?
In terms of design, don’t expect to see any big differences between the “iPad mini 2” and the current model, which is fine since it’s already one of the sleekest tablets on the market. There will likely be one major aesthetic change, however: New colors.
According to plenty of leaked photos that seemingly reveal the housing from Apple’s second-generation iPad mini, the current black and slate color option will soon be a thing of the past. The white and silver color combination will remain, but the black and space gray option from Apple’s new iPhone 5s will be carried over to the iPad mini in addition to the full-size iPad. This color scheme is much, much better than the black and slate color combo on Apple’s current iPad mini.
Recent leaks also suggest that the new iPad mini will be available in white and gold as well.
Far more important than the colors of Apple’s new 8-inch iPad is that fact that according to multiple independent reports from various reliable sources, Apple’s iPad mini 2 will be upgraded to a brand new Retina display that packs 2,048 x 1,536-pixel resolution into the same size panel.
The lack of Retina resolution was easily the biggest complaint with Apple’s first-generation iPad mini, but we all expected the screen to be upgraded in the second model. Reports were mixed and for a while it appeared as though manufacturing difficulties would lead to a delayed launch and a minor iPad mini update to tide us over, but now it appears as though Retina is a go on the iPad mini 2 — though low production yields will reportedly make the new iPad mini hard to come by at launch.
Perhaps the biggest question surrounding Apple’s fifth-generation iPad debut is whether or not it will include Apple’s new Touch ID fingerprint scanner from the iPhone 5s, and the same can likely be said of the new iPad mini. Various images showing the iPad mini 2 with an embedded Touch ID scanner in the home button have leaked, but some industry watchers and bloggers are still not sure we’ll see the new fingerprint scanner hit Apple’s iPad lineup until next year.
We’ll also see a spec bump in this year’s iPad mini model, though the particulars are still something of a mystery. The current model is powered by Apple’s old A5 processor and the new one could get the A6X SoC from the current fourth-generation iPad or a new A7-based chipset.
Where pricing and sizes are concerned, we’re not expecting the new Retina models to be hit with a price increase. As such, we’ll likely see Apple’s second iPad mini tablet launch with 16GB, 32GB and 64GB storage options available for $329, $429 and $529, respectively. And just like the current iPad mini models, 3G/4G LTE connectivity will be a $130 option on each version.
Finally, we may see the entry-level price of Apple’s iPad tablet lineup reach an all-time low this year if Apple keeps the current-generation 16GB iPad mini around and sells it at a discount, as it has done in the past with iPhones and iPads. $229 is probably a stretch, but $249 or $279 might not be unreasonable.
Apple’s press conference kicks off at 1:00 p.m. EDT, 10:00 a.m. PDT on Tuesday, and BGR will be covering all the news as it is announced.