iPad 5 rumor rollup for the week ending May 8

Retina mini rising, the stylish stylus, bettering battery via iTunes

The iOSphere seems to have lowered itself from mere rumor to mere guesses for iPad 5 and the iPad mini 2, though with just as much assurance.

Supply chain sources say the iPad mini with Retina Display will arrive in the fall, even though it will lack a powerful enough processor and battery to actually, you know, work.

Also this week: you can expect the iPad stylus because that’s worked so well for the Samsung Galaxy Note; and a patent for a new iTunes user interface for the Movies section means better battery performance.

You read it here second.

____________________“The rumor [of an iPad 5/mini 2 stylus] arises with the unexpected popularity of Samsung's Galaxy Note series. Moreover, many people think that Apple will highly benefit from a stylus since iPad is somehow designed for artists with a wide array of great drawing apps.”

~ Kristin Dian Mariano, International Business Times, on how the success of the Galaxy Note reveals that the Next Big Thing in iPadland is using your fingers to hold a stylus instead of to touch the screen.

iPad mini 2 will have Retina Display in Q3 2013, and updated CPU in early 2014

Or not.

Apple is planning two new iPad mini releases in relatively quick succession, according to a CNET post by Brooke Crothers, based on his talk with NDP DisplaySearch, a market research unit that focuses on screen technologies.

The first, which DisplaySearch predicts will appear in the third quarter, is for an iPad mini with a Retina Display, specifically the 7.9-inch screen, with a resolution of 2,048 x 1,536 pixels, according to DisplaySearch analyst Richard Shim, who bases his prediction on what he’s been told by Asian component makers. That’s comparable to iPhone 5 and “one of the highest densities for a tablet to date,” according to Crothers.

Currently, iPad mini has a resolution of 1,024 x 768, with a pixel density of 163 ppi. Models with Apple’s Retina Display technology include: iPhone 5 with 4-inch diagonal screen, 1,136 x 640 pixels, and 326 pixels per inch; and third- and fourth-generation iPad, with 9.7-inch screen, 2,048 x 1,536 pixels, 264 ppi.

An iPad mini with a Retina Display of the same resolution would have a pixel density of 326 ppi.

"We should see the start of mass production of the [Retina Display] panels in June or July," Shim said.

(This contradicts an end-of-April rumor, by KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who claims the Retina Display iPad mini “won’t enter mass production until October due to yield issues with the new high-resolution display,” according to CultOfMac’s account. “If true, the problem could make a fall launch for the device very unlikely.” Which brings us to the second iPad mini release, according to Richard Shim.)

Shim says the second new iPad mini will arrive in the first quarter of 2014, with an updated processor. Neither Shim nor Crothers added any details about that. This cycle of updates would be similar to that of the third and fourth generation iPads that Apple released in 2012. IPad 3 introduced the Retina Display for the tablet; iPad 4 about seven months later added an improved processor and the new Lightning port.

But Time’s Jared Newman sees a problem with Shim’s predictions.

“Unless Apple has pulled off some miraculous engineering, in which a 2-year-old processor can power quadruple the pixels at no apparent cost to overall performance, NPD’s story doesn’t add up,” argues Newman. “Speaking to Business Insider, Shim had no explanation for why Apple might use an A5 chip instead, or how that would even work.”

Currently, iPad mini uses Apple’s A5 processor. There are actually two versions of this chip. The first, based on a 45 nanometer process, appeared in March 2011, powering the iPad 2 and later the iPhone 4S. The second version, which seems to be identical except that it is based on a 32 nanometer process, which resulted in a considerably smaller physical package, appeared a year later, and powers the later model of the iPad 2 (identified as “iPad2,4”), the fifth-generation iPod touch, and the iPad mini.

AndandTech’s review of iPad2,4 focused on the new processor. The authors found that the 32 nm process, all by itself, resulted in a “15% increase in our web browsing battery life, a nearly 30% increase in gaming battery life and an 18% increase in video playback battery life. Although Apple hasn't revised its battery life specs, the iPad 2,4 definitely lasts longer on a single charge than the original iPad 2.”

For the first 9.7-inch iPad with Retina Display, the “iPad 3” announced in March 2012, Apple stayed with the Samsung 45 nm process for the A5X chip, almost doubling the component’s area compared to the 32 nm chip in the iPad2,4. The larger size was needed because Apple boosted the chip’s integrated graphics processing unit (GPU). As the AnandTech reviewers noted in their in-depth assessment, the changes resulted in an “insanely powerful GPU.” The iPad 3 also featured a much bigger battery compared to iPad 2.

From the review: “With the A5X Apple did the unthinkable and outfitted the chip with four 32-bit wide LP-DDR2 memory controllers....This gives the A5X a 128-bit wide memory interface, double what the closest competition can muster and putting it on par with what we've come to expect from modern x86 CPUs and mainstream GPUs.

In reviewing the iPad mini in November 2012, Anand Tech’s Anand Lal Shimpi and Vivek Gowri explained the stumbling blocks faced by Apple in trying to bring comparable processing and battery power to the mini. Increasing the physical size of the processor and the battery size could easily lead to heavier, thicker, and more costly iPad mini.  

The other two options for a Retina mini, according to the authors are 1) a “resolution that wasn't an integer multiple of the current one, say 1600 x 1200” while keeping the same aspect ratio; or 2) as it did with iPhone 5 “just pick a new resolution and enable support for it.” There are drawbacks to both.

“None of these options is particularly enticing for Apple, especially given the low (for Apple), starting price for the iPad mini,” writes Lal Shimpi. “If you're expecting next year's mini to have a Retina Display, I wouldn't hold your breath.”

iPad 5 will have a stylus, ditto for iPad mini 2

A post at International Business Times declares awkwardly that “Apple's upcoming tablets will feature a stylus just like Samsung Galaxy Note series, reports forecasting the new gadgets indicated.”

The post’s author, Kristin Dian Mariano, discloses none of these “reports” – no names, no links. Nada. Zip.

We’re stuck: from whence came this rumor, then?

She explains. “The rumor arises with the unexpected popularity of Samsung's Galaxy Note series. Moreover, many people think that Apple will highly benefit from a stylus since iPad is somehow designed for artists with a wide array of great drawing apps.”

Apparently there were no “reports.” But there is the popularity of the big-screened Samsung Note smartphone or phablet or fatlet or tablone. Whatever. Anyway, it has a 5.3-inch, 1,280 x 800 pixel screen and it uses a stylus. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that the next 7.9-inch iPad mini tablet and the next 9.7-inch iPad will also use a stylus.

“However, the Cupertino-based company remained tight-lipped on the rumors,” Mariano concludes.

That’s because the Cupertino-based company was trying to avoid bursting with laughter.

iPad 5 will have a better battery thanks to a new iTunes interface on a multitouch device

This one is hard to follow, perhaps impossible.

The headline at iTechPost reads “iPad mini 2, iPad 5 Rumors: New Patents Reveal Better Battery?” 

ITechPost is the website that “celebrates the indomitable spirit of man by delivering news on the advancements made in science and medicine and reporting on discoveries made in space or on this planet.”

One would likely assume that the patents would be for a better battery – new inventions that somehow improve battery performance. One would be wrong.

“We scoured the newly published patents for anything that might apply to the upcoming iOS devices,” confesses Dmitry Sheynin. “While we weren't able to turn up anything about the iPad 5 or iPad mini 2 release date or price, we did find a bit of information that might be relevant to battery life on the new Apple devices.”

And here it is: “an iOS iTunes interface specifically designed for multitouch devices. The patent focuses on the Movie section of iTunes and states that the method described by the patent helps conserve power and achieves greater intervals between charges.”

From the patent: "Such methods and interfaces reduce the cognitive burden on a user and produce a more efficient human-machine interface. For battery-operated computing devices, such methods and interfaces conserve power and increase the time between battery charges."

So, what the iTechPost headline means to say is that “patents for the iTunes user interface will make transactions smoother, hence faster, and thereby reduce power demand, so that one can say that the result is a ‘better battery.’”

Pardon our yawn.

The real “scouring” in this case was done by PatentlyApple, which covered the release by the US Patent and Trademark Office of over 30 new Apple patents or patent applications. Including the patent for the Movies section of iTunes. The summaries don’t seem to actually describe what or how the iTunes Movies interface would be different if it made use of the patented inventions. And the patent itself doesn’t mention the next iPads.  

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.http://twitter.com/johnwcoxnwwjohn_cox@nww.com

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