iPad 5 rumor rollup for the week ending Oct. 1

Smaller Apple iPad, bigger iPad, mini 2 delays, and date debate

The iOSphere knows so much about the iPad 5 and iPad mini 2 that it's easy to overlook how little it really knows.

A video of an alleged iPad 5 rear casing confirmed that the Next iPad will be somewhat smaller than the current one. Unless it’s much bigger than the current one. Anguish blew through the iOSphere over claims that unnamed production problems will delay full-scale release of the iPad mini 2 until early next year. And, based on nothing except looking at the calendar one year after the last iPad announcement, confidence is high that the new tablets will be announced Oct. 25.

You read it here second.

Thanks to a plethora of rumors, leaks, photos and videos we have a good idea what to expect from the iPad 5 when it arrives, but there are still some parts of the iPad 5 that remain up in the air.

— Josh Smith, GottaBeMobile, who was, nevertheless, unable to identify any specific feature, beyond the possibility of new rounded instead of sloping edges, for the iPad 5.

iPad 5 will be smaller than current iPad, but not by much

A video posted by a Chinese parts supplier, sw-box.com, compares the current iPad and iPad mini with a slate-gray rear housing alleged to be that of the iPad 5. Finally, someone in one of these dealing-in-stolen-property revelations actually uses a tape measure to compare the sizes.

And it turns out that the iPad 5 will be a little bit smaller than the current model.

[SLIDESHOW: 20 essential business apps for iPads and iPhones]

MacRumors apparently was the first to pick up on the video post. 

The Youtube video itself is very straightforward, showing all three devices in a line, and then looking at the iPad 5 housing in more detail.

Here are the measurements, converted into inches:

Width x Length

iPad 4 - 7.31 x 9.49

iPad 5 - 6.67 x 9.42

iPad mini - 5.41 x 7.87

According to the video, iPad 5 is a smidgen thinner than the current iPad: 0.28 inches versus 0.37. If this is an actual iPad 5 rear housing, then the new tablet will be about one-half inch less wide, a teensy bit shorter, and about one-tenth of an inch thinner. The screen size and display area, presumably, will remain unchanged, with a 9.7-inch diagonal panel.

These figures would fit with the long-held belief that the sides (or bezel) of the front “frame” around the display will be thinner, but the top and bottom of the frame will be very close if not identical to the current model. The new casing is also somewhat lighter. Whether that will translate into a lighter finished product may depend on whether or how Apple has changed other components, including the display panel.

For most rumoristas none of this is new, though Business Insider’s Dylan Love seems stunned by the video. “According To This Leak, The 'iPad 5' Will Have A Completely New Design That Looks More Like The iPad Mini,” is the headline to his post. The Completely New Design, based on the rear housing in the video, means a body with rounded edges.

iPad 5 will be bigger than current iPad, by a lot

Apple is actively working on a 12-inch iPad model with Quanta, a Taiwan based contract manufacturer, according to the resurgent rumor of a larger-screened iPad.

In August, MacRumors went so far as to commission CiccareseDesign, which rarely lets a quarter go by without a new edition of iOS device fan art, to illustrate what a 12.9-inch iPad would like while still maintaining a high-definition display.

The latest iteration of the iBigpad rumor emerged via a circuitous route, via AppleInsider, from a post at the Japanese site Mac Otakara, which in turn gathered it from a Chinese site, United Daily News.

Click-bait sites like TheNewsTribe made the necessary adjustments. "Quanta Computer building 12 inch iPad, may launch in October." 

There were, predictably, efforts to analyze the rumor. “Could 12 inches be the sweet spot for Apple's larger iPad?,” wondered the headline to a post by TechRadar’s Michelle Fitzsimmons

Her only answer was the iOSpherian trope of covering all your bases and your posterior. “The rumors may not pan out into the real thing, and we're unlikely to learn more at Apple's rumored Oct. 15 iPad event,” Fitzsimmons concluded. “However, with an ever-growing number of competitors chomping at its market share, Apple could be eyeing some diversifying of its own as well.”

Could be indeed.

iPad mini 2 will be delayed because high-def displays are in short supply

A rather confusing Reuters story, hampered in part by its lack of hard information, is sparking angst in the iOSphere over a possible delay in releasing the iPad mini 2.

The Next iPad mini is widely expected to have, because it “must” have, what Apple calls a “Retina display” – a high resolution screen comparable to that found on the current full-sized iPad and the iPhone.

Reuters’ story, by Clare Jim and Reiji Murai, is awkwardly headlined “Sharper display Apple iPad Mini faces delay: sources.” Here’s the opening paragraph: “Apple Inc will be unable to widely roll out a new version of the iPad Mini with a high-resolution ‘retina’ display this month, people who work in the company's supply chain said, leaving the gadget without the sharper screen found on rival tablets from Google Inc and Amazon.com Inc.”

The first thing to point out is the phrasing: that Apple allegedly won’t be able to “widely roll out” a high-res iPad mini. If Apple goes ahead with an announcement and releases the product, this phrasing means that some people who might want to buy it right away will have to wait. That seems different from saying “The iPad Mini Everyone Is Waiting For Will Be Delayed Due To Supply Problems,” which is how Business Insider headlined its repost of the Reuters’ story.

What’s the reason that the iPad mini 2 will not be widely rolled out? Reuters again: “Apple's supply chain is only now gearing up to make retina displays for the iPad Mini, which means the gadgets could be available in only limited quantities this year, if at all, and the company may miss the chance to cash in on the year-end holiday shopping season, the sources said.”

But Reuters’ anonymous supply chain sources are emphatically vague about why production is gearing up now. Neither the reporters nor the sources can say whether this schedule reflects problems with iPad mini 2 or Apple’s original timing for it. “The reason behind the delays in manufacturing the retina display screens for the iPad Mini were unclear,” Reuters says. “One source at a supplier said there were delays in Apple's certification of panel producers, which were given strict power-saving requirements.”

To The Rollup, that sounds like Apple is demanding display makers toe the line in terms of power efficiency to optimize battery life.

“Given the time required to ramp up screen production, a retina display-equipped iPad Mini would not be available in large volumes until early next year, the sources said,” according to Reuters. “The sources expected Apple to either wait until early next year for a full-fledged launch of a retina display iPad Mini, or to make a retina version only available in limited quantities before the end of the year.

Without knowing more of the display panel supply chain, those conjectures remain nothing more than, well, conjecture. Apple’s new iPhones and iPads have sometimes been in short supply during the first weeks of availability, with shipment delays stretching out to a few weeks. But, again, that’s different from a product announcement or release date being delayed.

In a CNET post, Brooke Crothers suggests, based on a technology analyst’s assessment, that iPad mini 2 is simply on a different production schedule than the iPad 5.

“While Apple's iPad 5 looks to be on schedule for an October release, that's not the case for the Retina version of the Mini, according to Rhoda Alexander, director of Tablet and Monitor Research at IHS iSuppli,” Crothers writes. “’The Retina Mini looks less certain for that time. Manufacturing volumes on that would match better with a Q114 [first quarter 2014] launch,’ she told CNET.”

Significantly, Crothers adds that Alexander “quickly qualified that saying, ‘But given that it's Apple, one never knows.’”

Which is another of saying that “no one really knows what Apple’s plan for the Next iPads actually is.”

iPad 5, iPad mini 2 will be announced Oct. 15

Josh Smith at GottaBeMobile has GottaBeBored.

“Thanks to a plethora of rumors, leaks, photos and videos we have a good idea what to expect from the iPad 5 when it arrives, but there are still some parts of the iPad 5 that remain up in the air,” he announces in a blogpost this week. 

Most of what the iOSphere “knows” – thanks to the plethora of rumors – is nothing more than reasonable inference. For example, it’s been almost one year since iPad mini and iPad 4 were announced and released, so it’s reasonable to expect that Apple is close to announcing and releasing the next generation products. The iPhone 5S introduced a 64-bit processor, so it’s reasonable to expect that the one or both of the Next iPads will have a version of it.

Then, of course, there are the photos and videos showing that iPad 5 will have the same kind of rounded sides at iPad mini. If that’s not a Wow Moment, what is?

In any case, Smith reminds us that iPad 4 was announced on Oct. 23, 2012. And he seems to accept last week’s unsupported claim by the French Apple fan site, MacGeneration, that Apple will announce the new tablets on Oct. 15. “A Tuesday [announcement] event in the middle of October would make sense,” he assures us, though why a mid-month Tuesday announcement makes more sense than an early- or late-month Tuesday announcement, he never bothers to explain.

After the hard work is done, drawing the Obvious Conclusions is easy. “If the iPad event takes place on October 15th, the iPad 5 release date could come as soon as Friday October 25th,” Smith explains. “At this point the date is a prediction based on Apple’s previous timing, not from a source with insider knowledge.”

If he’d just said that at the beginning, he could have written a much shorter post.

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

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