Apple just refreshed its entire iPad line-up in October, but a new report from Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White says the Cupertino, Calif.-based tech giant may be upgrading its tablet family again in just two months from now.
“Our checks at CES indicate Apple will release the iPad 5 and the second-generation iPad Mini this March,” White wrote in a new note from CES 2013. “The iPad 5 is expected to be lighter and thinner than the iPad 4 that was released in October, while the form factor of the iPad Mini should be similar to the first generation iPad Mini that debuted in October.”
White’s comments line up with a previous report from Macotakara in December, which said Apple would release a fifth-generation iPad in March 2013, which would have a “thinner and lighter” design similar to the iPad Mini. That same Macotakara report said Apple was also working on the iPad Mini 2, with the same 7.9-inch LCD display, but with twice as many pixels (2048 x 1536) and an A6X processor, the same chip used to power the iPad 4.
Even though Apple’s update cycles for iOS products have shortened over the years, it would be relatively surprising to see two brand-new tablets released just a few months after the first iPad Mini and iPad 4 arrived in October. Still, Apple’s decision to release the iPad 4 just months after releasing the iPad 3 in March may mean Apple is trending towards bi-annual release cycles for its tablet line.
Back in November, China-based DigiTimes reported on Apple’s plans to release its next generation of iOS devices, including a new iPhone and a new iPad, “around the middle of 2013.”
iPad 5, iPad Mini 2: What We Know
We’ve heard very little about the iPad 5 and the iPad Mini 2, but due to the number of reports, we believe both of these next-generation iPads from Apple will focus on the display.
If all goes according to plan, the next-generation of iPads will all feature Retina Display-quality screens.
Even though the in-cell technologies used to create the iPhone 5’s display made the screen thinner, brighter and stronger, Apple is apparently very interested in switching to Sharp’s ultra-thin IGZO technology:
In late December, DigiTimes and Apple analyst Horace Dediu both mentioned Apple’s alleged investment in the ultra-thin IGZO displays produced by Sharp, predicting inclusion of the technology in Apple’s next batch of iOS devices, including iPhones and iPads. Dediu also pointed to Apple’s recent $2.3 billion investment in “product tooling, manufacturing process equipment and infrastructure,” believing the cash was used to help bail out Sharp, which had been in financial straits in 2012. If Sharp is really going “all in” on IGZO technology as it was reported, it’s possible Apple saved Sharp to leverage its investment in the next generation of displays.
IGZO display technology is not only thin and tough, but it can even handle higher screen densities than Apple’s Retina Display, which is visually stunning on its own. IGZO displays can reportedly handle display densities north of 330 pixels per inch (ppi); for a quick comparison, the new iPad 4 can only achieve 264 ppi.
One of the better advantages of IGZO display technology is its lower power consumption. Most Apple products, including the iPad 3 and 4, require cartoonishly-big batteries to achieve just 8 hours of power — this is because current-gen Retina Displays are extremely power hungry. If Apple wanted its iPhone 6 to not only last longer during the day but also charge faster when plugged in, IGZO seems to be the way to go for the next generation of iOS devices.
Giving credence to these rumors, Taiwan-based AU Optronics (AUO) is reportedly developing a Retina Display for the next-generation iPad Mini, which may require IGZO technology to pull off a feasible Retina Display.
Besides the display, we don’t know much, but we have seen a few interesting iPad patents for a built-in stand, and backside controls for gaming.
Apple sold 14 million iPad units in Q4 2012, and plans to announce sales figures for the iPhone 5, iPad 4 and iPad Mini during the company’s Q1 2013 earnings report, scheduled to release on Jan. 23.
Dave Smith is a reporter for International Business Times, where this piece original appeared.