We’re just eight days away from when Apple is likely to hold their annual iPad event
. At that time, we’ll most likely see a completely redesigned iPad 5, and an iPad mini 2 with some necessary improvements.
This week, we’re offering our thoughts on what both of these devices should include. Today, our focus is on the iPad mini.
Where things stand
Apple launched the first iPad mini in October 2012. Even then, many criticized it for being overpriced and arriving without a Retina display. These complaints didn’t stop the iPad mini from fast becoming the No. 1 tablet in its category.
Things have changed considerably since the first iPad mini launched. In July, Google unveiled a significantly improved Nexus 7. Amazon's Kindle Fire HDX is also shipping now. Both tablets include specifications not only better than their predecessors, but also compared to the iPad mini.
There are three things the iPad mini 2 needs that are essential, including a better screen and processor, and more RAM. Less important, but also nice, would be a better camera, and lower price.
The screen on the first-generation iPad mini was always inferior when compared to the iPad with Retina display. This was fine, at least as long as the competition lagged behind.
Both the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HDX come with a 1920 x 1200 display with a high pixel density of 323 ppi. By contrast, the iPad mini includes a 1024 x 768 display with 163 ppi.
It is essential that the iPad mini 2 screen match that of the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HDX. Unfortunately, we’ve been hearing conflicting stories on this issue.
Some suggest that a Retina display is coming on the iPad mini 2 this month. Others claim that this won’t happen until early next year.
Sooner is better, in our opinion.
More RAM and a better processor
The current iPad mini uses 512MB of onboard RAM. The tablets from Google and Amazon both come with 2GB. We expect some type of bump on the iPad mini 2. Whether it hits 2GB remains to be seen.
The iPad mini 2 is almost certainly going to receive some variant of Apple’s 64-bit A7 processor, which is now available on the iPhone 5s. This processor should improve battery life on the tablet, and also make it much quicker.
The Nexus 7 uses a 1.5-GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, and a 400-MHz Adreno 320 GPU. The Kindle Fire HDX has even more horsepower, thanks to its 2.2-GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 and 330 GPU.
Cameras on tablets have always been poor, especially when compared to those on smartphones. Still, each year does bring with it some camera improvements, which should continue
with the iPad mini 2 in 2013.
The current iPad mini includes a 1.2MP FaceTime HD camera, and a 5MP iSight camera. These are the same specs on the latest Nexus 7. The Kindle Fire HDX only ships with a 720p front-facing camera.
The lowest priced iPad mini is $329. This just happens to be $100 more than the entry-level Nexus 7, and Kindle Fire HDX. As Apple proved with the iPhone 5c, they have no desire to offer the least expensive device in the market.
Therefore, the most likely scenario is that the price on the iPad mini 2 will remain the same as its predecessor.
The biggest question mark about the iPad mini 2 remains whether it will launch with a Retina display. From there, we expect only incremental updates.
Our look at the iPad 5 will be published tomorrow, Oct. 15. As a reminder, Apple's 2013 iPad event is likely to be held on Tuesday, Oct. 22.
As usual, we'll keep you updated.