Would you want an iPad 5 that looks and feels just like an iPad mini?

Would you want an iPad 5 that looks and feels just like an iPad mini?

It's not rocket science. Apple's continuously working on next-generation iPad prototypes. Given the realities of time, technology, and economics, they're seeing how far they can go and how quickly. Some are more conservative, bringing faster, more efficient processors, better radios, and other components to existing chassises. Others are more radical, bringing new technologies, materials, and designs to market. Some are quiet ticks that need to be used to be appreciated. Others a noisy tocks that need only be seen to be believed. The iPad 4 was very conservative. The slightest tick. A new Apple A6X processor, a new, more internationally-friendly LTE radio and more robust Wi-Fi, new cameras, and the new Lightning connector. It built on the Retina display of the iPad 3, and continued once again the same chassis as the iPad 2, the last big design tock.

But now Apple has a new design language for their mobile devices, and a new way of manufacturing them that borders on machinist porn. It's what let them make the iPhone 5, and it's what let them make the exquisite, and very similar looking iPad mini, iPod touch 5, and iPod nano. It's what made for unified, ultra-thin, ultra-light, ultra-high precision, anodized aluminum unibodies with tighter curves, smaller bezels, and pixels so close to the surface it's like you're really touching them. It's what made the just-released iPad 4 look and feel old and dated by comparison.

It's not rocket science to think the iPad 5 might bring Apple's larger tablet into that new design language and manufacturing process.

There are challenges that need to be overcome, however. A 2048x1536 Retina display requires a lot of light and a lot of power. That's why the iPad 4 is so thick and heavy compared to the non-Retina iPad mini. For that device, Apple sacrificed pixel density for lightness and battery life. With the iPad 5, there's no pixel density to sacrifice. The screen is set. There's only better LED and panel technology, more efficient chipsets, and better battery chemistry to overcome it.

If Apple can get all of that in place, if they can produce an iPad 5 with Retina display, 10-hours of battery life, and make it anywhere close to as light and thin for its 9.7-inch size as the iPad mini is at 7.9, then it's hard to believe they wouldn't do it, and unify the design language and manufacturing processes of their mobile devices.

The rough concept image above shows just that -- the iPad mini design applied to a 9.7-inch screen. The current iPad 4 outline is left in the background to highlight that, in addition to being lighter and thinner, the iPad mini design on the full-sized iPad would presumably be smaller as well. Same power, far less packaging.

For those who switched from the Retina iPad to the iPad mini, who gave up pixels and power for portability, it would make the lines blur. (As would a Retina iPad mini, when that device launches.)

It still wouldn't be something you could grip in one hand like the iPad mini. The multitouch technology that lets the iPad mini reject unintentional input from the thin bezels would likely be even more critical, given how a full-sized iPad is held and used. And no matter how thin and light an iPad 5 is compared to an iPad 4, it still wouldn't be as thin and light as an iPad mini, and it wouldn't fit in as many pockets or purses.

So the question becomes, if Apple could make the iPad 5 look and feel like an iPad mini, would that be your next iPad?

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

More Posts



← Previously

Monday Brief: More BB10 leaks, The Galaxy Note 8.0, and more!

Next up →

iMore show 333: Apple is doomed. Again.

Reader comments

Would you want an iPad 5 that looks and feels just like an iPad mini?


To me, the iPad mini is the best iPad by far. The size, weight and overall feel of the tablet is just so much better then the larger iPad. Having a tablet that I can fit into my back pocket during my day at work, is priceless. The lack of retina display doesn't bother me at all and overall, it's the tablet i've been most pleased with ever since I started using tablets. It's a form factor full of win and nothing else.

You have an iPad in your back pocket? Somewhere, the E channel just had a collective shooting pain in their eye.

Not that I have room to talk. I did the same thing with an HP 360lx back back back in the day. Until I sat on it and broke the screen! ;)

I have had an iPad 2 since it launched. I passed on the 3rd gen iPad holding out for the 4th gen assuming it was coming out this march 2013. Obviously it came out sooner so I'm looking forward to the next gen iPad and I hope it does take on the new design language of the newer devices. I would enjoy a thinner and lighter iPad.

Pretty much everything about the Mini form factor is superior.

The feel of the metal, the taper of the sides, the smaller vertical bezel.

During the Mini announcement they mentioned how iOS had been modified to ignore incidental touches of the screen on the sides to enable the thinner bezel. I don't see any reason why that couldn't be applied to the regular iPad.

Of course the real deciding factor will be the battery. Can they make the battery small enough to enable a smaller, thinner, lighter enclosure? Because really I can't see the regular iPad overtaking the Mini in hype and sales until it becomes easier to hold in one hand comfortably.

I agree, the Mini is far superior in form factor. I still have my iPad retina, but the wife dropped her iPad 2 in a heartbeat for the iPad Mini. It is just more convenient and easier to use in every way. There is still a market for the larger screened iPad though, namely when it comes to high end gaming experiences. But that really is about it...

Apparently you are all younger folk. I have the iPad 3 after passing on the iPad 2. Going from the iPad 1 to the 3 was night and day due to the Retina display. But for those that aren't 22 anymore (I'm 51), the bigger screen just makes reading smaller detail that much easier. I never understood people that complained that the iPad 1,2, or 3 and now 4 was too heavy to hold like a regular book. But who holds a hardcover book of approximately 400 to 500 pages with one hand anyway. No, you rest it in your lap. I've never had a problem with the size and weight of the iPads, and even if the Mini comes out with Retina, I don't think I'd buy it. But then again 3 1/2 years ago I said I would never buy an iPad 1. So who knows? Never say never.

My next iPad will be an iPad mini, regardless of what the "full size iPad" is or is not. And that will only be if I have a problem with my iPad 2, which I am still enjoying the use of. Not replacing it until absolutely necessary.

Just added an iPad Mini -- while I like the form factor, the battery life is substantially worse than our by-now-ancient iPad 1. Does that match with everybody's experience (despite years of advancement/use, less size == less room for battery, after all), or might we just have a lemon?

One thing I've noticed is that I use my iPad Mini a lot more because of the smaller form factor. This makes me sometimes feel like the battery life is worse because I'm charging it more often, but really that's just a factor of the increased usage.

I think you do have a lemon,My iPad Mini last me an entire day.I have the iPad 3 also and it's battery dies way faster

I have an iPad 3 and I'd need to see something a lot lighter to compel me to replace it with a new full sized iPad. I've been real impressed with the iPad mini and could see picking one up to replace the Nexus 7 I'm currently using for casual stuff.

There are a lot of us out here who essentially read for a living (think doctors, lawyers, researchers, bureaucrats, etc.) with a constant barrage of reports, articles, etc. and the medium is almost always a PDF meant to be printed on 8.5x11. The full sized iPad with the Retina display is ideal for that environment.

For my use,
I completely agree with greybeardmn. I use my iPad 3 mainly for reading . The smaller screen on the mini plus the lack of Retina make it a no go for me. I think even with Retina, the screen size of the mini would be too small for my needs.

Like traditional computers, the larger one will always lead on performance. There will always be a trade-off. I must say, when it comes time to trade in my iPad for a new one, it'll be a tough choice.

I'd love it. What I'd love more is it being lighter. Hopefully 1.2 lb or lighter. The big problem with tablets is the weight. Every little reduction in weight benefits the user every single time they use the device.

It's funny you say that. Until I purchased the mini...on a whim (release day as I was also there to purchase the iPad 4, figured I'd grab a mini for my wife for Christmas)...I was always a member of the 'how can you complain about the weight' club, speaking about the iPad 'major'. Setting up the mini for my wife I was immediately blown away by it's size, weight and incredible design. While light, it just 'feels' tough. I'm excited to see the big iPad get this treatment. I'm with you 100% now. The weight difference is substantial. Any shaving of an ounce or three will be a treat. And the bezel-less design is definitely 'rocket science' :). It's just. Bad. Ass.
Thanks Rene. Great read..and I believe every iPad fan will have a very VERY difficult time when the 'big guy' gets the mini's design treatment....and the 'mini' gets the retina treatment. This is where I'm blown away by the stock prices....Apple has an extremely bright future in this 'tablet' world. It truly is getting to the point the 'masses' can now easily replace a laptop with a tablet. And one that weighs less than a pound!

Cool. Times!

To be honest, it'd take leap in iOS and apps to get another full sized iPad. Design? It gets a case thrown on so don't care. Weight? It wouldn't be reduced significantly. Faster? It's fast enough now. There's no more "tock" after retina.

An iPad mini retina? Now were "tocking"...lol.

I could see getting a surface pro barring any deal breakers and using an iPad mini otherwise. If I'm going to spend 900ish on a tablet I'd rather have windows 8. Ideally a decent high res lte one. If not an lte iPad mini and surface pro.

Mini vs. 10" iPad is matter of preference. My family has both and I like the 10" retina resolution at home on wifi, surfing web, photos, "pretty" websites look awesome. Mini is also wifi only, so not as portable as with cell svc. Mini really needs upgrade to Retina Display and A6X chip. I spend more time using the 10" Retina (Gen4) iPad and really enjoy the quality display resolution - especially on apps (golf game) and sites (Izik search engine) that take advantage of the Retina Display.

Re: "It still wouldn't be something you could grip in one hand like the iPad mini."

Depends on what you mean by "grip." If you mean "briefly hold securely in one hand," then yes, I think it would be easily grippable even with narrower long-edge bezels. Especially with chamfering of the front edge like the iPad mini. The chamfering adds two slightly sharp edges, which adds friction against your thumb for a more secure thumb-on-top grip.

Try holding an iPad mini at the very edge right side up and upside-down and you'll see what I mean. The chamfering makes it possible to hold the iPad mini securely with less than 1 cm of thumb on top. The curved back requires far more thumb-overlap when you try the same thing with the iPad mini facing down. (But please try that over a pillow or couch because you *will* drop it.)

Or, if by "grip" you mean "hold up with one hand for an extended period," then no I don't think that will be possible until both iPad mini and "big" iPad are much, much lighter than they are now. Lighter than current technology would allow.

Ok, here goes. What about some real innovation instead of just shrinking. I can easily ser why the iPad mini is so great. I always thought My iPad2 was too bulky, but so far
iPads really was the only choice for a tablet. For my sake they could continue the "innovation" by making the iPad5 even bulkier than the 4 (but as powerful as a MacBook), but please also update the Mini. But if size and form factor is all that's going to happen I really wouldn't care. We need some real innovation. Wireless charging (Qi, lots of cafés has this in the tables), some wauw apple tv integration, an OS that actually looks new, NFC...... Something real. Not just trimming the size and adjusting performance.

Don't get me wrong. I love my iPad2, but iPad as a concept in the future should be more than the power of iPad4 in a Mini shell!

I owned an iPad 2 with 32Gb and 3G. Since my eyes got worser I needed better glasses. And after I bought the glasses I cannot look at the iPad 2 as before. Everything looks like looking at a printed newspaper via a strong magnifying glass. I sold my iPad 2 since I have an iPod Touch 5Gen with Retina, that looks better than my former iPad 2. I wish Apple makes the iPad 5 with Retina in the same formfactor as my Slate Touch. And I hope it comes out in March, so I can buy it in simplest version 16Gb wifi in Slate. I can use the Mobile Hotspot function of my Sony Xperia P's Jelly Bean by that time, since I almost never used the 3G function on my iPad2. Henk (Netherlands)

If the larger iPad is going to have the same form factor as the iPad mini I would love it. The biggest thing that would need to change is the weight, in my opinion. If its going to be just as heavy I don't think the same form factor will work out well unless they could create an amazing thumb rejection interface for the heavy thumb pressure on the sides of the screen because the device is heavier than the mini.

Boring. I'd buy my first ipad If they switch there whole approach. Rather then running a blown up version of the iphone. Run a fully functional desktop operating system on it.. Will have to come up with a few slick gestures to replace a mouse and whatever other user experience problems come up.

Then we'll have a reason for being brighter, faster. Rather then making everybody happy with the feel, let's blow there mind with function.

Screw the ticks on the clock, I'm talking switching from analog to digital lol

I have an iPad2 since October 2011. Hmmm, the shrinked bezels? I don't like the idea that the screen responsiveness and specification decrease due to the screen's ability of rejecting unintentional touches on the sides of the display. I like the full-sized bezels because I can see the screen without my thumbs getting in the way and know that the screen will response exactly how I like. These are just my preferences.

Looks and feels maybe but if the wi-fi is the same as the mini then NO!!!! My mini's wi-fi is terrible, spent an hour with Apple on the phone then sent the mini in and they say nothing is wrong....funny my iPhone 5, iPad 3, Macbook Air, iMac and yes Galaxy Note 2 have know problem connecting or staying connected to my wi-fi.....but not the iPad mini.

You got a bad unit. We've got a pair of minis and a couple of large models. None have wifi connection issues. Don't reject it because you got a dud;)


Actually that is exactly what I want.
I want a "full-sized" iPad (at least screen-wise) without the dated look of the current iPad(s) (2/3/4).
I really need a new iPad which is maybe a little thinner, definitely a little lighter and it absolutely has to have slimmer bezel... and if I may dream maybe even haptic/tactile feedback (a feature to rule them all...).

I like the 'idea' of the Mini and have considered downsizing my iPad 2. That said, I think the shrinking of the iPad to Mini has created an engineering problem. The sheer size and weight of the full iPad more or less demands two hand (or prop up) use, while the size of the Mini encourages one hand use. Problem is, the 4:3 screen makes for a very wide handful (unlike, say, the 16:9 screens in the Nexus or many e-Readers), so prolonged use of the Mini would seem to be the 'carpal tunnel' edition of the product.

I think if you are trying to hold the thing in one hand wrapped around the back like that, that you are just "using it wrong." I know Apples main advertising image for it shows it being held like that, but I have yet to run into anyone who actually holds it like that.

I hold mine between my thumb and index finger on one side/edge or just with part of my thumb on the front and my hand supporting the back. When typing you hold it by the bottom two corners with your thumbs and forefinger like pincers.

It's not like it weighs hardly anything at all. You don't have to hold it like a football.

When people know that something will constantly be updated no one will ever be satisfied. I remember when the first iPad came out, the question was not would Apple make one smaller (for we already had the iPhone) but whether or not they would make one bigger. Because initially the iPad was considered small being that it was being compared to laptops at the time. For those who spoke of an iPad mini many said "there is already an iPad mini and its called an iPhone/iPod. Now that there really is an iPad mini people are now calling the revolutionary iPad, thick, and big. For me every iPad was great and when used properly it really didn't matter which one you had.

Rene nailed it when he said that the focus should be on iOS7 and iCloud, because the differences between iPads while they are not really that great. I mean before people start saying this isn't true just keep in mind for most of the things that were added to newer devices and called upgrades there were already apps that did the same thing, so really if you were aware of the apps than upgrading every year might not be such a big deal for you but then again this is just my opinion.

Personally, I would love to see the new iPad (full size) have the same form factor as the iPod touch/iPad mini. I much prefer flatter backsides so I can lay it on a table and not have it wobbling around as I touch the sides of the screen.

at 64GB RAM max. I'll stay with my iPad3 64GB forever. An SD memory extension slot is highly desired! "i" or any other virtual cloud is a no-go! Just recovering from a 72h internet blackout...

Am I the only one hoping the new iPad does not look like the ipad Mini which in turn literally looks like a giant ipod touch? I generally grip tablets from the side and while there may be some technology to help fight that, I really don't think it would help that much, ipad Mini it makes more sense as you can actually hold it in one hand from behind (which is probably why they designed it that way). I also like the differentiation of the look of the device as it looks. I would much rather them cram more power and battery life, then try and make it smaller. I don't think slimming the bezel will do anything at all to help it get into a back pocket as an ipad mini can barely do that. it would literally be a "we can make it thinner" thing and that to me, is a waste of space. the bezel takes up aprox 1.5-2 inches max which, while on a cellphone, phablet or small tablet is a big deal, on a tablet, it is not. How about instead of that, we get an even more powerfull processor (quad core 2ghz) more ram, and an even more powerfull graphics card as well as a better camera, more memory (start at 32 gb please) and battery. Not that the ipad 4 isn't good enough, but to me a more narrow ipad makes little sense when that space can be utilized. especially since i am in the market for an ipad around march (which historically is the ipad launch time)

iOS doesn't need that kind of power. What are you going to do with it? You're limited. Even the ipad 4 with its 2x processor (over the ipad 3) isn't significantly much faster than the ipad 3 in use.

All this talk of thinner and lighter is kind of negated when you throw a case on it.

We're at a stage now where the iphone is sort of maxed out on features. The only game changing feature to wait for now is a bigger screen and retina plus. This is why analysts are crying over needing a less expensive iphone for Apple to expand. As with the ipad mini, apple can reach down a bit to add millions of users with a much less expensive phone meant to take with you to prepaid carriers.

For the big ipad? It's processor which not many seem to care about given iOS is plenty fast on current chips.

For the Mini, it's retina. And it's still debatable if Apple will even go retina unless they can make their margin with it at 329. Because it will screw with bigger ipad sales and the margins they get on that.

One reason why this should be a big year for iOS is that hardware is kind of maturing for the experience that iOS can offer at this point. What kind of must have ecosystem feature, iOS feature, or even iOS app has Apple given us in the past year? With the new hardware this year, what new apps did you get as a result? It's really the same experience as the previous hardware. If anything, we've seen it get worse. We lost google tied into iOS. We're going to lose google sync. Still no Office. But no real improvements to Apple's ecosystem or we got things like Apple Maps.

"We're at a stage now where the iphone is sort of maxed out on features. The only game changing feature to wait for now is a bigger screen and retina plus."

That's exactly why you're not working at Apple... No vision.

There's plenty of things that can eventually be added in future mobile products.
Tactile feedback for one. This is going to be huge for future touch-devices. Feeling textures, keys, etc... Endless possibilities for games and apps.
Next thing: projection. Still in its infancy. Imagine being able to let your iPhone project a 50 inch screen on virtually any wall.
Next thing: lytro-like camera.
Next thing: adjustable screensize through flexible/foldable displays.
Next thing: seamless, fast, yet secure, biometric payment options from phone to phone/register
Next thing: health surveillance
(just a short brainstorm. no particular order.)

Don't you think iOS would have to evolve first? It can't resize or throw apps out of whack so there goes your foldable screen idea. Heck, we're still waiting on a phablet but Apple would have to double the rez again to increase screen size.

Tactile feedback? Meh..

Projection? Meh again. 30min battery life? :P

Payments? It won't fly anywhere fast. People are antsy about that.

It doesn't even matter really. Apple already reinvented the phone and tablet. They can continue to iterate and milk it. Your shortlist is basically niches and gimmicks. I think they need to make their existing foundation much better...itunes, icloud, services, apple tv, Siri, Maps, etc. (or consider axing Siri and Maps and make up with Google).

But my point is that few are holding their breath, waiting on a thinner, faster ipad. Or a faster iphone 5S.

Of course iOS has to evolve and it will.

I'm talking about "new" (hardware-)features and wanted to contradict your statement, that the iPhone is sort of maxed out on features.

Software will evantually take care of different screensizes/resolutions without any hiccups.

"Tactile feedback? Meh.."
Meh?! It's only gonna be the next big thing ;)

"Projection? Meh again. 30min battery life? :P"
Well, I did not say this tech is imminent. However: Even if it was only 30 mins at first but in decent quality... Heck, I want it! It'll be great for quick demonstrations. If you need it to last longer... look for an outlet / use a juicepack. Tech will evolve.

Payments will take some time, yes. I think we'll still be using credit cards mostly for at least another decade. But it will become more and more popular. Especially if it proves to be easy, fast and secure.

Those features are not only gimmicks. I think once they're being deployed, they will become standard pretty quickly.

I do agree with you that Apple needs to work a lot harder to improve their services.
iCloud is a mere disappointment to me. I want it to be my one for everything, instead it couldn't even properly restore my backup, let alone "just work" like dropbox or skydrive do.
Siri needs and obviously will evolve as well. It's gonna be a decent digital assistant one day, I'm sure. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

I run into power and memory problems on iOS all the time. It seems to me that you just don't actually use it for anything yourself, and so have never taxed the hardware.

Lots of folks use iPads to get actual work done and wish they were more powerful as well as had more powerful software. Try editing a 5-600 page document in Pages and then tell me the thing couldn't use some more horsepower.

"Yes". I'm still on the iPad 2 and won't be buying another full size iPad until they get thinner/lighter. I'm VERY happy with the Mini though obviously there are advantages to the larger & retina screen. However, the iPad 2 was already too big/heavy and the fact that they had to make it bigger with the iPad 3 to support the backlighting for the LED backlighting required for the retina screen was highly unfortunate. I'm hopeful that some newer screen tech like Sharp's IGZO panels will improve the light transmissivity and lower the backlight requirements, which would allow them to cut the battery down again, back to normal tablet levels rather than the ridiculous almost laptop sized battery in the 3&4. IF they can produce a retina full sized iPad that is thinner and lighter than the iPad 2, then yes, I would buy it.

I think I like the iPad 5G would look better with the bezel now it has. Thin bezel will make the users hard to hold the heavy iPad. I like the mini's design so I want black n slate and white n silver design.

As I stated in the forums on 1-18.. Apple needs to loosen the belt when it comes to iOS 7.. The End User needs more leeway when it comes to customizing their iPads over just being able to change background pics.. NFC should be a *Given*.. Font Size Adjustment & Color Options for App Labels should be a *Given*.. The ability to at least add a few Apple Approved Widget Options for the Lockscreen should be a *Given*.. It's 2013.. not 2010.. The 5th-Gen iPad can Resemble a Mini.. But it will never be a Mini.. The Technology does not exsist.. The Mini can never be a 4th-Gen / 5th-Gen iPad Clone.. The Technology does not exsist.. These are 2 COMPLETELY DIFFERENT Classes of iPad that will never be the same.. As soon as everyone excepts this the better.

This is just crazy sh*t.

If people could adjust font size and colour in the UI, their iPads would all look like MySpace pages on Netscape Navigator and NFC is a buggy and entirely insecure protocol that isn't even necessary (Bluetooth does pretty much the same thing).

Your right about it being 2013 and not 2010, but your ideas are stuck in the 1990's as far as I can see.

Also, the last part of your post is just ... gobbledygook. What does it even mean?

Edit: I'm guessing by your icon that in fact you are a joke "character" and that you believe you are being humorous or something.

I love my iPad 3.

I've fondled the iPad Mini and iPhone 5, but I am aware of how easily the coating wears off on those (the slate versions).

I can't see myself with a white iDevice. The coating on my iPad is as good as it was when new. I can't imagine being happy with a device where the coating wears off over time.

Soooo... to answer your question, I'll wait for Jony Ive to admit that the current "new design language" is wrong (even if privately), and change it up to something more durable.

iPhone 4S, iPad 3, MacBook Air 11" 2011. All black.

I'm one of those that switched to the mini. I find that the whole "retina" thing is a bit of a boondoggle and doesn't matter in daily use unless you have been hypnotised by the tech media into *believing* it does. I have far above average eyesight and it literally doesn't matter at all, that the mini is non-retina. You forget about it after a minutes use (tops), and it never bothers you again unless you are someone like John Gruber who's career hinges on his typeface snobbery or one of those insufferable camera guys who angst over their images night and day.

I think it's great that they are making the regular iPad narrower so that more people have a chance at being able to thumb type on the thing which IMO is the only truly efficient method of typing on an iPad.

Whether I will switch back comes down to weight and weight alone. Once I picked up the mini and saw that it was literally half the weight, that I could type better (and faster), as well as hold it in one hand for hours like a Kindle, I was sold.

For me to switch back to the large iPad, it has to pass that bar, which as the author points out, is kind of unlikely.

Ugh, I actually very rarely thumb type on my iPad. And I love typing on the thing! It's so fast once you get the hang of it.

This is just one of the reasons I will always prefer the bigger iPad, and if they make it lighter - with retina display still included, obviously - then yup, I'm all for it! It became very clear to me that non-retina is a no-go for me once I went and tried the mini for myself in the store. But then, my eyesight at close range is practically perfect.

I would definitely buy a 5th gen iPad if it has the same design as the mini and is almost as lightweight.

Yes I would like the iPad mini to be my next iPhone. I think that Apple could continue to produce a smaller sized iPhone for the masses, while giving some competition to the other phablet makers. Maybe Apple could tweak the iPAD mini Wi-Fi + Cellular models to include phone capabilities.