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Rumor: Apple to tweak full-sized iPad alongside 'iPad mini'

updated 02:26 am EDT, Sat October 20, 2012

Retina iPad to gain Lightning connector, global LTE, perhaps more

Alongside reports that Apple may drop the iPad 2 entirely and replace it with the forthcoming "iPad mini" at its press conference on October 23, unnamed sources are behind a rumor that the full-sized, 9.7-inch Retina iPad may also get a refresh -- but it would be a tweaking of the iPad as it is now to accommodate a change to the company's Lightning connector and possibly the addition of a better, more global LTE radio like the iPhone 5 has. Pricing, storage capacities and other major features, the sources contend, would remain the same.

The report from 9to5Mac neither identifies it sources nor offers much in the way of specifics, but opens up possibilities for other, more minor updates in the design as well. For example, the "tweaked" iPad could gain an IGZO screen (set to the same specifications as the current one so as to be largely unnoticeable to users) or an increase in capacity. If Apple did those things, it might also be able to produce a lighter, thinner version of the tablet, since the battery would not need to be as large.

The idea of a "tweaked" regular iPad would also explain reports claiming a total of 24 new models to be introduced next Tuesday. The various versions of the full-size iPad (white or black option, Wi-Fi only or 3G/LTE+Wi-Fi, and the three size variants) create a total of 12 models, half of the leaked SKUs. The remainder would be the equivalent variations for the "iPad mini," a medium-sized tablet said to be larger than the 7-inch class found in the Galaxy Nexus 7 or the Kindle Fire, but still smaller than the current iPad.

It's also possible that a tweaked iPad could, apart from moving to the Lightning connector, simply use improved or less-expensive parts to create a device that performs exactly like the current model but costs less to make. Pricing is a crucial issue as competition to the iPad finally begins to take some shape, and Apple could be looking for ways to make its devices easier and less expensive to make in an effort to cut costs without sacrificing quality.

The rumor, if true, also lends credibility to speculation that Apple may "tweak" the iPhone 4 and 4S models to use the Lightning connector as well. Having changed the standard for the first time in 10 years with the move away from the familiar 30-pin dock connector, the company may want to establish the new standard as quickly as possible so accessory manufacturers and the wave of new buyers for the Lightning-sporting devices have no issue with peripheral availability and little reason to buy an "old" 30-pin accessory. Apple has said that it moved to the new connector in order to continue increasing the thinness, functionality and versatility of the communications and power port.

Speculation holds that Apple will use the October 23 event to introduce a raft of new and refreshed products, including several new Mac models. It would be unusual, though not unprecedented, for the company to stage multiple unrelated announcements in a single event. Historically, Apple has tended to focus its big press events on a single theme or platform, and announce more minor updates quietly on the same day or just after the big announcements.

by MacNN Staff



  1. pairof9s

    Senior User

    Joined: 01-03-08

    That would make sense since it would be ridiculous to have the iPad and the iPad mini have 2 different connectors. Still, what are you going to call these things...iPad Lightning? iPad 3L?

  1. Jeronimo2000

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 08-20-01

    Originally Posted by pairof9sView Post

    Still, what are you going to call these things...iPad Lightning? iPad 3L?

    That's easy: officially, it will be "the new iPad". Inofficially, it will be "the new new iPad". And everyone else will call it "that other iPad 3 thing".

  1. SockRolid

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 01-21-10

    Makes sense to drop the iPad 2. Especially if the iPad mini is non-Retina. The mini would become the non-Retina low-end model and the full-sized iPad would continue to be the Retina high-end model. Clear differentiation. No discounted older models hanging around to complicate the buying decision.

    Will be fascinating to see how Apple positions the mini in terms of technology and pricing. Might be difficult to justify a non-Retina mini price of more than $249. Retina would justify a price of $299 or more. But it just doesn't seem right for Apple to ship a Retina mini. Not this year anyway. And maybe not ever.

    As for the "refreshed" iPad (3rd gen), I think it will get the Lightning connector and nothing else new. All other updates to the 9.7" iPad should be put into next year's iPad (4th gen.) The main focus of the event should be on the iPad mini. An upgraded iPad (3.5 gen) at the event would just distract from that and might hurt demand for next spring's iPad (4th gen) if it doesn't have yet more technology upgrades over the "3.5 gen."

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 08-06-01

    Originally Posted by Jeronimo2000View Post

    That's easy: officially, it will be "the new iPad". Inofficially, it will be "the new new iPad". And everyone else will call it "that other iPad 3 thing".

    Nope, it will be called "iPad (Fall 2012)". Because Apple loves to date their products. It's just up to you to know not when you bought yours, but what model it actually is.

    Or maybe "the better iPad"? "The new iPad" where the old "new iPad" is now called "the old iPad" or "the old new iPad"?

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