KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a fairly solid track record in predicting Apple's product plans, has issued a new research report outlining his expectations for Apple's iPad and iPad mini lineup through the end of 2013 and into 2014. In line with some of his previous predictions and claims from other sources, Apple is planning to release both a fifth-generation iPad and a second-generation iPad mini before the end of this year.
Kuo believes that both devices will run on a new A7X chip, with the new iPad mini seeing a significant processor upgrade from the A5 found in the current model to help support a Retina display in the forthcoming model. For both the new iPad and iPad mini models, Kuo sees component shipments ramping up through the end of this quarter, with mass production gearing up in the fourth quarter of the year, in line with previous expectations for a fall launch.
Kuo believes that Apple had initially intended to launch the Retina iPad mini in early 2014, but that the company has accelerated development in part to remain competitive with other small high-resolution tablets hitting the market.
Since iPad mini 2 will feature better resolution with retina display, we think its AP will have the same grade as iPad 5 - the A7X.
But we now believe that iPad mini 2 may be pulled in for launching in late 2013. Since other brand vendors are all expected to have a line-up of new high resolution 7-8” tablets to launch over the next 3-6 months, we think iPad mini 2 may lose its opportunity in the market if it is slated for introduction next year.
Despite minimal form factor differentiation and unchanged casing colors, we think the retina display will still boost iPad mini 2’s attractiveness. Although the model’s availability is small due to production issues, if iPad mini 2 gets an introduction and launch this year, it should be able to impact consumers and freeze their budget for other brand vendors’ tablets.
Aside from the new Retina iPad mini, Kuo also believes that Apple is working another new iPad mini model for launch in early 2014. That model would still be an upgrade over the current model, but would be based on an A6 chip and carry a non-Retina display, allowing Apple to offer a lower-priced iPad mini line.
As for the full-size iPad, Kuo notes that Apple will experience manufacturing challenges with the smaller form factor, although it does appear that the device will be ready for a launch in the final quarter of this year. Kuo also claims that, as has been rumored for Apple's upcoming iPhone models, the new iPad will support TDD-LTE technology, allowing the device to be compatible with China Mobile's network.
Apple is holding a media event next Tuesday, but that event is expected to focus on the iPhone and iOS 7, with iPad and other hardware updates appearing at a later time.