When Apple launched the iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 3 in late 2014, many people were disappointed with the iPad mini update, which essentially just added Touch ID to the existing iPad mini 2 with no other external design changes. Since then, there have been a few rumors suggesting Apple is working on an iPad mini 4 update that includes iPad Air 2 design elements like a thinner body.
French site Nowhereelse.fr [Google Translate] today shared a video and some images of what's said to be an early version of the rear casing for the upcoming iPad mini 4.
The aluminum shell closely resembles the shell of the existing iPad mini, but it does include several design elements introduced with the iPad Air 2. There's a single row of larger speaker holes alongside the Lightning port at the bottom of the device, rather than two smaller rows, and the mute switch on the device has been removed and replaced with a microphone hole.
Rumors have suggested the iPad mini 4 will be thinner than the iPad mini 2 and the iPad mini 3, giving it a thickness more akin to the iPad Air 2, but it is difficult to determine the device's possible thickness based on the images that were shared. Along with an iPad Air-style design, an updated iPad mini 4 would likely adopt one of Apple's more recent processors, possibly the A8X in the iPad Air 2 or an A9 processor coming later this year.
There's been little word on when an updated iPad mini might launch, but given Apple's historical fall release schedule for iPads, it's unlikely we will see the iPad mini 4 until the later months of 2015.
Thursday April 2, 2015 6:38 pm PDT by Husain Sumra
Samsung will provide Apple with A9 chips for its next-generation iPhone and other devices, reportsBloomberg, confirming a previous report in early February. Over the past couple of months there had been confusion and conflicting reports as to whether Samsung, Apple's longtime supplier and rival, or Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) would produce the chips.
Samsung will start making Apple A9 processor chips at its Giheung plant in South Korea, the people said, asking not to be identified because the contract hasn’t been discussed publicly. Additional orders will go to Samsung’s partner Globalfoundries Inc., according to another person familiar with the arrangement.
In 2013, Apple signed a chip production deal with TSMC in hopes of diversifying its supply chain resources and reducing its reliance on Samsung amid the two companies' ongoing legal disputes.
It appears that Samsung's investment in manufacturing technologies won Apple over, with TSMC Chairman Morris Chang recently telling investors that the company would lose ground to Samsung in producing the most advanced chip technology possible in 2015, though he also noted the company would regain that advantage in 2016.
Samsung is reportedly producing the chips with its advanced 14-nanometer process, which has outpaced TSMC's capabilities and results in smaller chips that consume less energy and provide more processing power. The Korean company is also said to be providing memory chips for Apple's next-generation devices.
Thus far, little is known about what the next-generation iPhones or iPads could include other than new A9 chips, but new reports indicate Apple could be bringing its new Force Touch technology to the devices. Other rumors also suggest the A9 may make its way into the "iPad Pro", which may debut in late 2015. It's likely the 2015 versions of the iPad Air and iPad mini will be outfitted with versions of the A9 as well.
With just one day to go until Apple's "Spring Forward" media event in San Francisco, there are still plenty of unknowns about what the company will be showing off beyond a focus on the Apple Watch. As a result, we've put together this summary of what we expect to see, what we might see, and what we probably won't see at the event.
Given the time-related tagline of "Spring Forward" and today's start of Daylight Saving Time in the United States, it's clear the Apple Watch is the focus of tomorrow's event. We got a first look at the device last September, but now with just a month to go until launch, it's time for Apple to provide final details and shape the marketing message. Expect more details on launch dates and pricing of course, as well as some updates on performance aspects such as battery life.
Also expect apps to play a significant role in the event, with Apple allowing a few developers to show off what they've been able to accomplish over the past few months since guidelines and developers tools for the device were made available.
Pricing will undoubtedly be one of the most interesting topics to be covered, with the company so far refusing to disclose any information beyond a $349 starting price. Daring Fireball's John Gruber has made his final predictions, arguing the stainless steel Apple Watch collection will be more expensive than people think.
[T]he steel Apple Watch, that’s something that most people still look at as for them. And so they expect the starting price to be around $500, and the various leather and metal band options to cost $100-300 more.
But if the starting price for the steel Apple Watch is $500, I don’t see why Apple Watch Sport exists at $350. $150 difference does not justify the difference. If they were that close in price, there’d only be one of them. [...] With Sport and steel Apple Watches, everything you can see or touch is different. Different metal (aluminum vs. steel), different finishes (matte vs. highly-polished), different displays (glass vs. sapphire), different case backs (plastic vs. ceramic and sapphire).
With that in mind, Gruber predicts the steel Apple Watch collection will start at $749 while the gold Apple Watch Edition collection starts at $7500. He expects Apple will charge a small premium for the 42mm size compared to the 38mm casing, and various band options will quickly drive up the cost of the steel and gold models.
Gruber is of course only one voice among many who are speculating about pricing, but he offers a clear and thorough argument for his pricing predictions, serving as a solid basis for debate and discussion.
Friday March 6, 2015 8:10 am PST by Mitchel Broussard
A new report out of Japanese Apple blog Mac Otakara [Google Translate] suggests that a refresh of the iPad Mini line could be hitting mid-cycle, bringing a beefier processor and faster Wi-Fi to a fourth-generation iPad mini.
Considering that the iPad Mini 3 was only a slight refresh on its predecessor, packing the same processing speed and power and essentially adding only Touch ID and a gold color option into the mix, many have hoped the fourth generation version of the device would be a more substantial update than last year's. Mac Otakara's report states that the update would replace the iPad Mini 3's current A7 processor and 802.11n Wi-Fi with an A8 CPU and 802.11ac Wi-Fi.
Mac Otakara tells MacRumors, however, that there is some uncertainty with this rumor, and Mac Otakara is not convinced it is accurate.
A short product cycle for an iPad would not be unprecedented, as the 9.7-inch iPad saw a seven-month interval in its third-generation, with the fourth-generation model shifting the iPad update cycle from the early part of the year to the late part and allowing Apple to quickly make the transition to the Lightning connector across its iOS device lineup.
Timing on a potential mid-cycle refresh for the iPad mini is not entirely clear, but the obvious candidate in the near-term is Apple's "Spring Forward" event this coming Monday, March 9. Mac Otakara also says Apple has been pushing out iPad and notebook shipping estimates for resellers to 2-3 weeks, perhaps hinting at some imminent lineup changes.
Apple reportedly has a MacBook Air refresh in the works and shipping estimates for the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro have also slipped today, fueling rumors of updates at Monday's event. The company will, however, most likely dedicate much of the show to details on the Apple Watch, so it is unclear how many other updates Apple will want to include in the event.
Tuesday March 3, 2015 7:33 am PST by Mitchel Broussard
Following its unveiling at CES earlier this year, AT&T today announced that its new Modio Case for iPad Mini, which enables Wi-Fi only iPads to connect to 4G, will be available for purchase March 20 for $49.99 with a two-year agreement.
The March 20 release is set only for the iPad Mini, iPad Mini 2, and iPad Mini 3 compatible cases, with a launch for the iPad Air models planned for later in the year. As detailed at its CES reveal event, the Modio smartcase will allow iPad owners with Wi-Fi models to connect to AT&T's 4G LTE network using data available on a user's Mobile Share Value plan. The case connects to the network when prompted, and automatically disconnects when the folio is closed.
Available for $49.99 on a two year contract, AT&T also plans to sell the new case on the AT&T Tablet Installment plan of $10 per month for 20 months. Those wishing to simply buy the Modio outright with no annual commitment can expect to pay $199.99. All Modio users will be required to pay a $10 monthly access charge for using the case on a Mobile Share Value plan.
“The AT&T Modio LTE case is both convenient and a great value for our customers. The case’s durability also makes it a natural choice for iPad mini with Wi-Fi users. Connect your iPad mini with Wi-Fi to AT&T’s 4G LTE network – the nation’s strongest LTE signal – and protect it at the same time.” – Jeff Bradley, senior vice president, Device Marketing and Developer Services, AT&T Mobility.
The case also includes a 4,600mAh battery that'll give users "up to 16 hours of continuous use" and a micro SD slot that supports up to 32GB of storage. The case needs to sync up with the AT&T Modio Data app, which monitors data usage and various data plans, to function. After the first set-up, the case will remember a user's iPad and preferences upon subsequent usage.
The Modio LTE Case will be available in AT&T retail stores, AT&T's official website, and at "select retailers" across the country on March 20.
Tuesday January 6, 2015 5:59 am PST by Kelly Hodgkins
AT&T today announced the upcoming availability of its new Modio smartcase that will add 4G LTE connectivity to a Wi-Fi-only iPad or iPad mini. The Modio smartcase will be compatible with the iPad Air 2, iPad Air, iPad mini 3, iPad mini 2 and iPad mini.
The Modio will allow Wi-Fi iPad owners to connect to AT&T's 4G LTE network using the data available on the customers' Mobile Share plans. Mobile Share allows customers to pay for a monthly data allotment that is shared between smartphones, tablets and other connected devices.
Beyond cellular connectivity, the Modio smartcase also includes its own 4,600 mAh battery to support up to 10 hours of use, along with a microSD card slot that can be used to store up to 32 GB of media and other files. Case owners can install the accompanying AT&T Modio Data application to monitor data usage and manage cellular plan details.
The AT&T Modio smartcase for iPad mini is listed on AT&T's website as coming soon, with a version for larger iPad Air models to follow. Pricing and exact launch dates for the new cases has yet to be announced.
Wednesday November 19, 2014 7:31 am PST by Mitchel Broussard
The previously announced SteelSeries Stratus XL has officially launched today on the Apple Store. Following in the footsteps of the original Stratus controller, the beefed-up Stratus XL provides a larger frame that gives it some parity to console controllers in terms of relative size and button layout.
The Stratus XL connects to an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch using a wireless Bluetooth connection, and the large design fits all of the expected control inputs: two joysticks, a pressure-sensitive directional pad, four action buttons, and four shoulder buttons that include two analog trigger buttons.
Our sister site TouchArcade got a hands-on with the controller at E3 this past summer, and found the new device favorable over the diminutive size of the original Stratus. They noted, "Instead of curling your hands around the tiny SteelSeries Stratus, holding the SteelSeries Stratus XL is more similar to having an Xbox 360 or Xbox One controller in your hands."
The Stratus XL uses AA batteries instead of a rechargeable battery pack. SteelSeries says the batteries should last for 40+ hours of playtime, and a switch on the back of the device should help users prevent heavy drainage of the batteries when not in use.
The SteelSeries Stratus XL can be purchased now from the Apple Store for $69.95, which is about $10 over the price tag of the PS4 DualShock 4 and the Xbox One Wireless Controller. The Stratus XL will be available for direct purchase from the SteelSeries official website, and for hands-on demos at select Apple Stores, on December 6.
Monday November 3, 2014 12:40 pm PST by Juli Clover
Apple may be planning to discontinue its iPad mini lineup in order to focus its efforts on the upcoming larger-screened "iPad Pro," according to a somewhat questionable rumor from Taiwan's Economic Daily News [Google Translate] (via GforGames). The site believes Apple will cease updating the 7.9-inch iPad mini next year, making the new iPad mini 3, released in October, the last tablet in the series.
A preference towards larger screen sizes, the introduction of the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus, declining iPad sales, and "fierce competition" in the tablet market are said to have led to Apple's alleged decision to discontinue the tablet.
It was a bit of a surprise when Apple announced a major update to the iPad Air in October, introducing an upgraded A8X processor, Touch ID, slimmer form factor, improved camera, and more in the iPad Air 2, while the iPad mini 3 gained no new features aside from Touch ID support. Rumors have suggested that the relatively minor update was due to the iPad mini's lack of popularity compared to the 9.7-inch iPad Air.
Apple has been known to pull resources away from products that are not selling well. For example, Apple has been investing fewer resources in the iPod touch, a device that no longer receives regular updates. The fifth-generation iPod touch was released in 2012 and while the device received a major update at that time, only a few changes have been made since then, tweaking storage capacities and prices. It's possible the iPad mini could go the way of the iPod touch -- remaining in the product lineup but receiving few updates.
Economic Daily News, much like Taiwanese news site Digitimes, appears to have some solid supply chain sources, but lack of context and ever-changing production plans have resulted in some serious rumor misses. For example, the site said that the iPad mini 3 would be 30 percent slimmer when it launched, and suggested the larger iPhone 6 Plus would not be called an iPhone. Some accurate information has come from Economic Daily News, however, including several correct rumors pointing towards Apple Watch sizing and release dates.
Apple's "iPad Pro," which is said to be replacing the iPad mini as a companion to the iPad Air, is rumored to have a screen size between 12.2 and 12.9 inches. It's said to be slightly thicker than the iPad Air 2, coming in at around 7mm, and it may have stereo speakers and an ultra high-definition display. A release date for the iPad Pro remains unclear, as Apple was said to be targeting an early 2015 launch but pushed back production in order to focus on the iPhone 6 Plus.
Wednesday October 29, 2014 8:03 am PDT by Kelly Hodgkins
Apple had the consumer in mind when it added a multi-carrier SIM card to its new iPads, said Apple vice president of iPhone, iPod and iOS product marketing Greg Joswiak in a recent Re/code interview (via Fierce Wireless). But that motivation does not mean the Apple SIM will be making its way to the iPhone any time soon, as Joswiak noted most consumers go directly to their carriers to buy iPhones, while the iPad more often is sold through Apple's retail channels.
"It's about the customer experience," he said during an appearance here at Re/code's Code/Mobile conference. "We ultimately don't know who you are going to use as the carrier, [and] we want to make it as easy as possible."
Joswiak said Apple has not discussed putting the Apple SIM into iPhones, but said that because of the way most customers buy an iPhone--through a carrier directly--the Apple SIM is not as well suited. "I don't think you're going to go to the Verizon store and say, 'Can you hook me up with AT&T?,'" he said.
With most iPhone customers committed to their carriers for a significant period of time, either through contracts subsidizing the phone cost or through payment plans, multi-carrier SIM cards make less sense for iPhones.
Apple's new universal SIM in theory allows customers to activate with one carrier and then switch to another carrier as needed, but there are some limitations. The Apple SIM is currently only compatible with AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and UK carrier EE. Verizon confirmed that is not adopting Apple's new SIM, instead requiring customers to activate with a Verizon-specific SIM.
In addition, while AT&T is listed as a compatible carrier, the provider is not fully supporting all the features of the SIM. Apple and AT&T have confirmed the carrier is not allowing its customers to switch once the Apple SIM has been activated on AT&T's network, instead opting to lock the SIM to its network following activation. Customers who activate service on AT&T will thus have to purchase a new SIM if they want to use their tablet with another carrier.
Apple introduced the new iPad Air 2 and Retina iPad mini 3 earlier this month with sales beginning last week. Both tablets feature a universal SIM, Touch ID, and storage options of 16, 64 and 128GB. The iPad Air 2 also includes a new A8X processor, antireflective display and 2GB of RAM. The iPad Air 2 retails at a starting price of $499, while the iPad mini 3 costs $399 for the base model.
Monday October 27, 2014 7:32 am PDT by Eric Slivka
With the iPad Air 2, one of Apple's main selling points has been the improved display, which includes a new bonded construction that eliminates the air gap between the display and the cover glass, as well as a new antireflective coating to reduce glare in situations with high ambient light.
Ray Soneira of DisplayMate Technologies has now put the new display to the test, finding that the antireflective coating is indeed a significant improvement for the iPad and a major step above competing tablets, but in overall performance competitors are still doing better than the iPad. Apple receives only minimal credit for the bonded display, as it is mainly catching up with competitors on that aspect.
A major innovation for the iPad Air 2 (that is not fully appreciated) is an anti-reflection coating on the cover glass that reduces ambient light reflections by about 3:1 over most other Tablets and Smartphones (including the previous iPads), and about 2:1 over all of the very best competing Tablets and Smartphones (including the new iPhone 6). [...]
However, other than the new anti-reflection coating and bonded cover glass, the display on the iPad Air 2 is essentially unchanged and identical in performance to the iPad 4 introduced in 2012, and is actually slightly lower in performance than the original iPad Air (for example 8% lower Brightness and 16% lower display Power Efficiency) – most likely the result of an obsession with producing a thinner Tablet forcing compromises in the LCD backlight.
With competitors such as Samsung, Amazon, and Microsoft offering better color accuracy, viewing angles, and power efficiency, Soneira finds the improvements in the iPad Air 2 insufficient to move the device to the top of his tablet display rankings, and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S retains its number one position.
Moving on to the iPad mini 3, Soneira unsurprisingly finds that the display is unchanged from the one used in the previous generation, unsurprising given that Apple kept the specs of the iPad mini identical with the exception of the Touch ID home button and a gold color option. Soneira notes the unchanged display is a "major disappointment", as the iPad mini 2's display has been rated poorly for color gamut and accuracy.
In 2013 the mini was given a Retina display, but remained with a reduced 62 percent Color Gamut – the only current iPad or iPhone without a full Color Gamut. Now, in 2014 the new iPad mini 3 still only has a 62 percent Color Gamut, plus it was denied the new enhanced anti-reflection coating and bonded cover glass of the iPad Air 2.
Soneira again points to competitors offering higher-quality displays on their tablets, concluding that the iPad mini 3 is "embarrassingly mediocre and way overpriced" considering its $399 starting price tag and significantly poorer display performance compared to both competitors and the iPad Air 2.
Full details on Soneira's testing of the new displays are available in his extensive report.
Friday October 24, 2014 10:43 am PDT by Juli Clover
After tearing down the iPad Air 2 earlier this week, iFixit has now moved on to the iPad mini 3, which also received a minor update during Apple's October 16 iPad event. Unlike the iPad Air 2, the iPad mini 3 saw few internal improvements, gaining a new gold color option and a Touch ID fingerprint sensor.
As expected, iFixit's teardown reveals many of the same parts that were used in first Retina iPad mini, now called the iPad mini 2. It continues to use the same 7.9-inch display, A7 processor with M7 coprocessor, 5-megapixel camera, and 802.11n Wi-Fi.
There is one new addition, which is directly related to Touch ID and the iPad mini 3's ability to support in-app Apple Pay payments. Like the iPad Air 2, the iPad mini 3 includes a 65V10 NFC controller manufactured by NXP.
NFC Controller in blue
There is no accompanying NFC antenna to allow the tablet to make NFC-based payments within stores, but there has been strong speculation suggesting the NFC chip is where Apple Pay's "Secure Element" is located. According to Apple, the Secure Element is a dedicated chip that stores encrypted Device Account Numbers, which replace credit card numbers for security reasons.
Though the iPad mini 3 and the iPad Air 2 are not able to make payments within stores, they can make Apple Pay payments within participating apps and thus utilize both the Secure Element and Device Account Numbers.
NXP's own site details the use of a specific integrated circuit designed for handling and storing secure data on its website, stating the technology has been integrated into its NFC controller chips. While the 65V10 is not mentioned by name, its appearance in both the iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 3 suggests that it is indeed being used for its security function rather than its NFC function.
Aside from the inclusion of the 65V10 NFC chip, which is located in a spot on the logic board that was previously left blank, there are few other notable features about the iPad mini 3. iFixit did find that the tablet has new home button cabling to support Touch ID and home button brackets that are securely affixed by hot glue, which makes removing the home button a much more difficult task.
Like the Touch ID cable in the iPhone 5s, the location of the Touch ID cable in the iPad mini 3 makes screen repairs very difficult, as the cable is easy to sever when opening up the display. Due to the glue and the precarious position of the Touch ID cable, the iPad mini 3 earned a repairability score of 2 out of 10 from iFixit.
Apple's iPad mini 3 is currently available in both retail stores and from Apple's online store, with prices that start at $399.
Wednesday October 22, 2014 12:28 pm PDT by Juli Clover
Apple's new iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 have begun hitting retail stores, as we reported earlier, and the tablets are now available for in-store pickup for a limited number of retail locations that have received shipments. It appears that in-store availability is limited to Wi-Fi only tablets at this time.
Many stores on the east coast of the United States are showing wide availability of both tablets as stores receive shipments and unpack boxes. Availability on the west coast is still limited as it is earlier in the day and stores are not yet prepared to begin retail sales.
Apple store employees appear to be unaware that stores are receiving stock today, as several phone calls placed by MacRumors resulted in responses suggesting the tablets would not arrive in stores until later in the week or early next week.
The iPad Air 2 is still showing shipping estimates of two to four days when ordered online, and some rumors have suggested that supplies are limited, which explains the tablet's quiet in-store release. At announcement, Apple declined to state when the iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 3 would be available in retail stores.
Apple's iPad mini 3, meanwhile, appears to be available in greater supply, displaying shipping estimates of 24 hours. iPad mini 3 pricing starts at $399 for the entry-level model, while iPad Air 2 pricing starts at $499.
While the iPad mini 3 received only Touch ID and a gold color option, the iPad Air 2 has seen significant updates including a thinner design, a new "gapless" display, an anti-reflective coating, 2GB of RAM, an A8X processor, and an upgraded 8-megapixel camera.
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