Apple's fourth-generation iPad mini could be a miniaturized version of the iPad Air 2, according to Japanese blog Mac Otakara. The report claims that the iPad mini 4 will adopt some of the same features and specifications as the iPad Air 2, including an 8-megapixel rear-facing iSight camera, ultra-thin 6.1mm design and possibly a fully laminated display with anti-reflective coating.
Mac Otakara claims that Apple may release the new iPad mini alongside an A9-based iPad Air 3, contrary to a sketchy report last week from Taiwan's Economic Daily News that said no new iPad Air will be released in 2015 and that the iPad mini 4 could be Apple's last 7.9-inch tablet as the company focuses on its larger-sized iPad Air and much-rumored "iPad Pro" in the future.
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a respectable track record at reporting on Apple's upcoming product plans, recently issued a note to investors that also claimed the iPad mini 4 will essentially be a smaller version of the iPad Air 2. Kuo did not make any predictions about the iPad Air 3 or the "iPad Pro" in his note, but he has mentioned the latter 12.9-inch tablet in previous notes to investors.
Apple releasing a trio of new iPads later this year -- the iPad Air 3, iPad mini 4 and "iPad Pro" -- could help the company rebound from five consecutive quarters of declining iPad sales. Moreover, while Mac Otakara has a respectable track record reporting about Apple, there is not enough substantive evidence at this time to firmly suggest that all three tablets will actually be unveiled this autumn.
In a new research note outlining his predictions for Apple's recently completed financial quarter and beyond, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo shares his thinking about some of Apple's upcoming product plans that will provide sales momentum in the latter portion of the year.
- Apple Watch: Kuo remains conservative about the Apple Watch, pegging Apple's second quarter shipments at roughly 3.9 million and growing to 5.5 million in the current quarter as supply shortages ease and availability expands to more countries. As a result, he believes it will be difficult for Apple to reach Wall Street consensus estimates for 15 million units total through the end of the year, though analyst estimates have seen wide variations and Apple is indicated it will not be reporting Apple Watch unit sales in its financial results.
Notably, Kuo believes Apple could launch the Apple Watch Sport in new color options to match iPhone 6s colors later this year, anodizing the watch's aluminum casing with yellow and rose gold. Kuo and other sources have previously pointed to a new iPhone color (reportedly rose gold) and Kuo indicated months ago that Apple could use new casing options for the Apple Watch later this year.
- iPhone: Kuo believes Apple shipped roughly 54.2 million iPhones during the second calendar quarter, and he predicts that number will fall to 40.1 million in the current quarter as sales slow ahead of the "iPhone 6s" launch and shipments of the new device may get off to a somewhat slow start due to "low yield of Force Touch."
- iPad: Apple's iPad sales continue to slide, with Kuo predicting the company shipped just 8.8 million in the current quarter. He believes a thinner and lighter iPad mini that is essentially a smaller version of the iPad Air 2 could begin shipping at the tail end of the quarter, helping boost overall shipments to 11 million units during the third calendar quarter. Apple's iPad launches typically come in October, however, so shipments may not begin until the fourth quarter. In line with a recent report claiming Apple may not introduce a new iPad Air this year, Kuo does not mention any pending updates to that device. He also does not address the even larger "iPad Pro" that has been rumored to launch later this year.
- Mac: Kuo predicts strong Mac shipments of 5.3 million units for the second quarter, rising to over 5.8 million in the current quarter, which is traditionally Apple's best quarter on the strength of back to school sales. He sees Apple releasing new iMacs late in the third quarter or early in the fourth quarter, helping to sustain Mac demand.
Kuo has a solid track record based on information from Apple's supply chain, but he does occasionally make incorrect predictions. As a result, some caution should be taken with these predictions.
While the iPad Air 2 may not see a refresh, the iPad mini 4 and iPad Pro will see introductions. Liaoxian Li, investment advisor at Fubon Hardware, tells Economic Daily News that Apple may want the attention on the new iPad Pro and thus will let its main assembly plant for iPads, Foxconn, focus on the Pro to maximize deployment capacity. Li believes a new iPad Air might not be released until 2016. Economic Daily News has a mixed track record on rumors and the accuracy of this particular analyst isn't known.
Additionally, the report claims that the new iPad mini might be the last one as the Apple wants to focus on the two larger iPads in the future. Many people were disappointed with the iPad mini update in 2014, which essentially added Touch ID to the existing iPad mini 2. The next iPad mini will likely be more of an upgrade, with a rumored rear shell featuring iPad Air 2 design elements already making the rounds.
While it's possible Apple won't upgrade the iPad Air 2 this year, the company has been constraining supplies of the iPad Air to third-party retailers, suggesting the iPad Air 2 would become the lower-cost option as an iPad Air 3 slots into Apple's tablet lineup. However, it's possible Apple introduces an iPad Air 3 with minimal additions, as it did with the iPad mini 3.
Insider inventory constraint information from major retailer Target hints at some possible end of life timelines for various products like the iPod, iPad mini 2, and iPad Air, many of which may be discontinued in the near future following the launch of new products.
According to a screenshot of an internal inventory system shared by a Target employee, all models of the iPod are currently constrained by Apple ahead of a rumored update that could come as soon as tomorrow.
Images of unreleased iPod touches, nanos, and shuffles were first discovered hidden within iTunes 12.2, and a rumor has suggested the iPod touch could receive a processor upgrade and new color options while the nano and the shuffle might be available in new colorways.
As for the iPad mini 2 and the iPad Air, replenishment of existing stock is currently constrained, with Target aiming to have 1 color in stock at each of its stores. Dwindling in-store stock suggests Apple could be planning to discontinue the iPad mini 2 and the iPad Air following the release of new models, which is expected to happen in the fall.
The iPad mini 2 and the iPad Air may be replaced by the iPad mini 3 and the iPad Air 2 as lower-cost older-generation models following the launch of a third-generation iPad Air and a fourth-generation iPad mini. We haven't heard much on what a third-generation iPad Air might offer, but an A9 processor and Force Touch are solid guesses.
A fourth-generation iPad mini has been rumored to be in the works, with an iPad Air-style redesign that eliminates the mute switch and introduces larger speaker holes. An updated iPad mini would also likely incorporate a much-improved processor, more RAM, and possibly Force Touch.
It is not clear when Apple plans to introduce new iPad mini and iPad Air models, but Target's guess of fall 2015 is a safe bet. For the last several years, Apple has updated its iPad lineup in October or November, and that's when we're likely to see new iPads in 2015. This year's iPad update may include an all new model, the much-rumored larger-screened iPad Pro.
Apple has quietly pulled the original iPad mini from the Apple Online Store this week and removed other references of the tablet from its website, as noted by 9to5Mac. The nearly three-year-old iPad mini was announced in October 2012 as a smaller 7.9-inch version of the iPad, but the tablet has since been succeeded by the iPad mini 2 and iPad mini 3, the latter featuring a Retina display, Touch ID and 64-bit A7 processor.
Apple dropped the price of the first-gen A5-based iPad mini to $299 in October 2013 and further discounted the tablet to $249 in October 2014, but the device was a hard sell given the iPad mini 2 starts at $299 with newer features. The original iPad mini remains available in the refurbished section of the Apple Online Store for between $209 and $409 depending on the specific model and storage capacity.
The original iPad mini remains available in limited quantities through authorized third-party resellers such as Amazon, although likely only until leftover stock is depleted. Apple's remaining tablet lineup for sale includes the iPad Air 2, iPad Air, iPad mini 3 and iPad mini 2, and the company is widely rumored to introduce a larger 12.9-inch "iPad Pro" targeted at professional users later this year.
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 7:38 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 9:10 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 8:33 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 6:59 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 December 31, 2014 10:52 am PST by Juli Clover
Thanks to the iPhone 6, the iPad Air 2, the iPad mini 3, OS X Yosemite, and iOS 8, 2014 was a major year for Apple. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus brought new screen sizes and a radical redesign, while iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite introduced deep integration between Apple's mobile and desktop operating systems.
The past year has seen an impressive display of innovation and new ideas, but upcoming product releases and rumors suggest that 2015 may be an even more monumental year for Apple.
Along with the Apple Watch, which Apple has said will launch in early 2015, we will likely see major updates across the Mac lineup due to the availability of Intel's next-generation Broadwell chips. An Apple TV update has long been in the works and could see a 2015 debut, and as it has done every year, Apple will undoubtedly update its iPad and iPhone lineup, along with releasing new versions of iOS and OS X.
As we did last year, we've highlighted Apple's prospective 2015 product plans, outlining what we might see from Apple over the course of the next 12 months based on current rumors.
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