News of a new iPad is always sought after, but when Apple's keeping a tight lid on things, speculation has to suffice. And the latest speculation has to do with an unconfirmed device dubbed the "iPad Mini."
According to Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu, the release of the new iPad is a "question of when, not if."
Previous iPad Mini rumors pegged the with a release date in Q3 of this year, though Wu said the "exact timing" for a new iPad's release date "is difficult to predict."
He claims that Apple's been testing devices with screens ranging from 4 to 12 inches, and other rumors pointed toward a medium-sized 7.85-inch iPad being the most likely to see a release date. The iPad 1, iPad 2 and iPad 3 sport 9.7-inch screens.
Like the iPad and iPad 2, the iPad Mini would have a 1,024 x 768 display. With every iPad at the same resolution, app developers wouldn't have to update their products for the new iPad.
A 7.85-inch screen would put the new iPad just under previous predictions of a smaller iPad's ideal size. It would be slightly larger than the 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 (releasing this weekend) and Amazon Kindle Fire, as well as the 7-inch in-house Google tablet rumored to be revealed later this year.
The new iPad's price needs to be right
Wu said the iPad Mini would be "the competition's worst nightmare," especially if it's priced competitively. If the new iPad follows the same course that the new iPhone did, it likely will be.
The first few generations of iPhones were on the pricier side, but the newer ones have come down significantly when purchased with contracts, cementing the device's success.
The original iPad's starting price was $499.99, and the iPad 2 sold for $399.99. Although the iPad 3 returned to the $499.99 price point, that may only be in preparation for the release of the Mini somewhere around the Kindle Fire' $199.99 or the rumored Google Tablet's $250 levels.
Apple has room for improvement
The iPad dominated the tablet space, and Apple's competitors will have an even tougher time if the iPad Mini expands the iPad line to the more compact 7- to 8-inch range.
Apple will have to carefully consider how to market the iPad Mini, though, as consumers may confuse it with the existing iPad models or with the iPod Mini. They'll likely choose a different name when it's time to announce the device.
Furthermore, some may argue that there already is an iPad Mini - it's called the iPod Touch, though its 3.5-inch screen may indeed leave room for a bigger iPad down the line.