Apple’s iPad 5 and iPad mini 2 (generational markers, likely not official names by the way) will probably arrive later this year, as has been reported previously, according to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Generally, analyst-sourced reports seem to be pretty hit-or-miss, but Kuo has a solid track record, including what appear to be accurate predictions around Apple’s forthcoming low-cost iPhone 5C and its color options.
Kuo says in an investor note today (via 9to5Mac) that the iPad 5 and iPad mini 2 are entering initial production this month, with plans to ramp up to full-scale mass production in the fourth quarter of this year. This counters some reports that suggested we’d see next-generation tablets from Apple revealed at its September 10 event, which is taking place on the Apple Campus in Cupertino and is generally expected to cover new iPhone announcements.
More details by Kuo included in the note suggest that Apple was originally planning to not release updated iPad models until calendar year 2014, and that it will still wait until them to offer a lower-cost, non-Retina version of the iPad mini in the same way it offers the iPad 2 as a cheaper alternative to the current-generation Retina iPad device.
Another interesting tidbit from Kuo is the idea that Apple will continue to sell the iPad 2 and manufacture new devices even after it introduces new models. Apple typically sells two previous generation devices alongside new model with the iPhone, as a way of offering lower cost options. With the iPad, it has opted instead to keep the iPad 2 around as a sole backup option to the fourth generation iPad, and looks intent on continuing that trend. The iPad 2 currently uses a 30-pin connector, and might be the only shipping Apple device to do so after the September event, so we could see it get a minor revision to move to Lightning for data and charging.
The iPad 5′s rear case was shown off on video by Unbox Therapy earlier this week, and if those parts are real it means we should see an iPad mini inspired design when this does ship. Kuo says they’ll also boast new A7-generation processors, which would mean a big performance boost for the iPad mini, which currently runs an A5. The extra processing power would likely be needed to help support a Retina display, which would pack even more pixels into smaller a space compared to the Retina 9.7-inch iPad screen.