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iPad Mini: Production starts Sept in Brazil, thin as iPod touch?

A thinner iPad Mini is getting an iPad Maxi load of theoretical confirmation through reports of leaked information from handily anonymous sources, claiming production will be in Foxconn’s Brazil plant and just awaiting the order to go.

The iPad Mini is a still non-existent version of an Apple iOS device – one that could equally be described as both a smaller iPad and a larger iPod Touch, for the two would have no real difference beyond naming.

An iPad Mini sounds cooler than something with iPod in the name, something that would have been unthinkable in the iPod’s heyday, but with the iPad now holding that mantle, some variation of the iPad name is just logical – even if Apple likes to throw in what some see as illogical curve balls sometimes, while others still see it as genius.

Japanese Apple news site Macotakara has published a much-quoted report in Japanese and English on the iPad Mini, claiming that it will be as thin as an iPod touch at around 7.2mm and thus much thinner than the current champion, the iPad 2 at 8.8m, in what would be the thinnest iPad yet.

There’s also the expectation the iPad Mini will be made in Foxconn’s new Brazilian manufacturing plants, located there to avoid high taxes on digital device imports which don’t apply to goods manufactured in Brazil for locals and for export, while being an alternative offshore manufacturing plant to add to Foxconn’s bow and manufacturing prowess.  

Macotakara also quotes yet another anonymous yet reliable source, this one from China, stating testing of an iPad Mini has concluded in China, but that production is expected to take place in Brazil.

A potential 3G model was raised, which would obviously add costs when compared to a Wi-Fi only model which may or may not come with GPS and NFC as with the Nexus 7, but that no announcements would be made anytime soon, with production not expected to start until September.

If true, this aligns with expectations that the iPhone 5 launching a year after the October 14 launch of the iPhone 4S, so that stocks are available of both devices to global launch locations on a just in time basis.

Macotakara’s report suggests shipping won’t start until the holiday season, so perhaps Apple will just announce the iPad Mini will immediately commencing sales of iPhone 5 so that a doubly whammy of iDevice launch amazingness occurs within 30 days of each other.

An iPad Mini would be able to run Apple’s 32nm A5, A5X or even a new A6 processor.

Apple has been testing a 32nm A5 process in its new batches of 2nd-generation iPad 2 models on sale in stores since the new iPad with Retina display went on sale, giving "up to" 15.7 hours of battery life for some applications – a much better battery life than the 10 hours quoted, due to the efficiencies delivered by the move from a 45nm SOC to a 32nm model according to Anandtech.

Apple has obviously seen how well these 32nm A5-equipped iPads perform in the real world compared to the older and original 45nm versions as released in 2011, so it knows how much power an iPad Mini equipped with hopefully an improved 32nm dual-core processor would consume, and that it would be able to match that magical 10 hour figure – if not improve on it.

Apple’s newest competitor in the 7-inch tablet space is the Google Nexus 7 tablet with a quad-core processor and a claimed 12-core graphics processor for incredibly awesome graphics power, which sounds like a lot more cores than the four in the A5X.

So, unless prohibited by higher A6 costs, perhaps resulting in an A5X-2 processor for an iPad Mini – Apple’s processor will have more than enough power to smoothly run all the apps on the App Store, and could even debut in an inexpensive non-Retina version with 1024x768 resolution and the current, familiar 4:3 aspect ratio – alongside a more expensive Retina version sporting the full 2048x1536 resolution while still with the same 4:3 aspect ratio as with the iPad 2 and the new iPad.

An iPad Mini would tap into an amazing infrastructure fully compatible, with a 32nm processor and ready to go, with 6 months before the next 2013 iPad and a future 2013 iPad Mini 2.

Apple should still be able to handily sell all three sizes, letting uses truly enjoy their apps, music, documents, email and everything across all their devices, and putting a serious dent into sales of 7-inch Android tablets while using the sweetly integrated and mature iTunes and App Stores to present a fully integrated front against the coming Windows 8 onslaught.

So, while the logic makes more sense than ever, especially now in 2012 after two and a half years of 9.7-inch iPad generations and a rich iPad software ecosystem, let alone all of those compatible iPhone apps, it’s all really up to Apple.

We might just have to do with a 4-inch iPhone for the time being, as Apple watches the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, the Nexus 7 and 7-to-8-inch Windows 8 tablets, let alone 10.6-inch and other sized models to come in the same iPhone 5 and expected iPad Mini timeframe.

Whatever happens, we certainly hope that Apple delivers on the iPad Mini, and that, like the iPad, it really turns out to be as fantastic as being “just a bigger iPod touch”.

Don’t you?

Image Credit: Macotakara.jp and Taiyo Fujii


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.