Kotaku on claims [Google translation] from Chinese web portal NetEase regarding Apple's plans for the launch of a smaller "iPad mini" in the third quarter of this year. According to the report, Apple is planning to launch with six million units of the device at a price of either $249 or $299 in order to combat forthcoming Windows 8 products, although smaller Android tablets such as Amazon's Kindle Fire have also been viewed as targets for Apple.
NetEase claimed that the device will be released around the third quarter of this year to "counter attack" the upcoming Windows tablets. The report further claims that the devices will cost anywhere from US$249 to $299 and that there will be an initial 6 million units ready for launch.The well-connected John Gruber has claimed that Apple has a 7.85-inch iPad in its labs, but he does not know whether the product will ever make it to market. Various claims of Apple moving closer to production of the smaller iPad have also been surfacing as rumors continue to swirl.
Mockup of 7.85-inch "iPad mini" next to iPad 2 (courtesy of CiccareseDesign)
Last December, we posted a paper mockup showing what a 7.85-inch iPad would look and feel like, coming to the conclusion that onscreen elements would remain usable even as the standard iPad resolution of 1024x768 was squeezed into a 7.85-inch display rather than a 9.7-inch screen. A 7.85-inch "iPad mini" display with a resolution of 1024x768 would carry a pixel density of 163 pixels per inch, exactly the same density as the non-Retina iPhone and iPod touch models. Consequently, content meeting Apple's interface guidelines would display at acceptable sizes on such a display.
Miniature iPad rumors refuse to die. According to a report straight out of Taiwan, Apple is getting ready to release a smaller iPad in the third quarter of this year. The report states that the smaller iPad will cost approximately $249 to $299, and that it will be released to combat Windows 8 tablets and the cheap Android tablet market.
We should note that the original article cites ZDNet: Ni Austria as its source, but fails to provide a link to any article or commentary. We couldn’t find the original source. The report also seems pretty suspect, but we can’t deny that we’ve been hearing more and more about an iPad mini being released in the coming months.
That said, we’re still not sure that it makes much sense. If anything, and this is just a hunch, we’d like to see the iPod touch get a little bigger to help differentiate it from the iPhone. The iPod touch can stand to gain a few more inches, and it would certainly make the device a gaming epicenter in the home, letting it compete directly with the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP.
Apple Could Achieve a 4-Inch iPhone Display by Increasing Height Only
The forum poster, a user by the name of modilwar, was inspired by a comment from a caller named "Colin" on The Vergecast show who suggested that change in aspect ratio as a possibility for a larger display. Using that idea, modilwar developed a series of illustrations showing how this could be achieved. At the most basic level, an increase in the height of the display would allow Apple to show five rows of icons on each page of the iPhone's home screen, up from the current four rows. Apple would also likely find it fairly easy to augment its own apps to take full advantage of the increased vertical screen real estate.
As for third-party apps, modilwar notes that many apps already utilize standard interface elements such as navigation buttons and bars at the top and bottom of the screen supporting a larger main content window in the middle. In the case of these apps, the main windows could simply expand vertically to show more content than on the current iPhone. Examples include browsers that could show more of a webpage, Twitter apps that could show more of a timeline, and mapping apps that could show more map tiles.
Other apps with custom user interface elements would require a bit more work, but in the meantime could simply be displayed at their current sizes with a 96-pixel wide black bar at top and bottom on the larger 4-inch display. This new 4-inch screen with a 9:5 aspect ratio would also perform much better at displaying widescreen 16:9 video content, leaving bars on either side of the screen that are only 7 pixels wide, compared to 50 pixels for unzoomed content on the current iPhone. Modilwar passes off his post as an intellectual exercise simple showing one way in which Apple could make a change to the iPhone's display with a minimum of disruption to the iOS ecosystem, but in a bit of a curious turn the post was picked up by Daring Fireball's John Gruber, who hints that the original idea may not be all that far-fetched.
Methinks “Colin” wasn’t merely guessing or idly speculating.Since Gruber has been known to speak coyly about his occasional inside knowledge, it is unclear whether he has independent knowledge supporting the idea of a taller display for the iPhone or if he simply has a gut feeling that "Colin" may legitimately be tipping some information at least partially tied to Apple's thinking.