Imagining iPad 5 and iPad mini 2: iSight and FaceTime cameras, storage

Analyzing rumors and speculation surrounding Apple's 5th generation iPad and 2nd generation iPad mini chipset and potential fingerprint identity sensor

Some of the bigger questions surrounding the iPad 5 and iPad mini 2 involve things like the lighter design for the former, Retina display for the latter, and the potential for Touch ID for both, but what also remains to be seen is what will happen with the iSight and FaceTime HD cameras, tablet editions. While not as dismal as the original iPad camera, they've still lagged enormously behind the iPhone. Will this year be any different?

iSight that can actually see

Taking photos with an iPad has become something of an internet joke. But the truth is, for people for whom the iPad is their only device, the iPad really, truly is the best camera they have with them, and their only way to capture the moments that are precious to them. Sure, it can look a little funny to see someone with a 7.9-inch, never mind 9.7-inch camera out in the wild, but what's not so funny is them taking the photo only to have it not turn out due to the inferior optics on the iPad.

The current iPad 4 and iPad mini have the same 5 megapixel cameras as the current iPod touch, and similar ones to the 2010 iPhone 4. It's not terrible, but it's nowhere approaching modern. The iPhone 5s, meanwhile, has an 8 megapixel camera that's on its third generation and can go toe-to-toe with almost any other camera phone on the market. Ultra-modern.

It's hard to see Apple giving the iPad line the same camera as the iPhone 5s, but it's not hard seeing Apple giving the iPad line an 8 megapixel camera. Worst case, it's the dated but still decent iPhone 4s camera. Better case, it's the good iPhone 5 camera currently still found in the iPhone 5c. Either way, it'll be a substantial improvement over the 2012 iPad camera.

The iPad 5 is also almost certain to get the Apple A7 chipset, which comes with a remarkable image signal process (ISP) that, optics be damned, will produce much better photos all on its own. Whether the iPad mini gets the A7 as well, or moves up only incrementally to the Apple A6 is hard to say, but even the A6 ISP would be a good upgrade.

Either way, while people might still laugh at the idea of taking photos with the iPad, they won't be laughing at how well the iSight photos turn out any more.

FaceTime HD-er

Not only did the iPhone 5s get an updated FaceTime HD camera - one that kept the same 720p resolution but added a back illuminated sensor (BSI) and larger pixel size - the iPhone 5c got it as well. It was one of only two internal updates the iPhone 5c enjoyed this year. (The other had to so with LTE radios.)

That makes it seem highly likely that both the new iPad 5 and new iPad mini 2 will get the same treatment, and be able to better capture selfies and FaceTime video calls in low-light conditions.

Because everyone needs a little FaceTime after dark, right?

128GB for one, or everyone?

Taking bigger pictures and better video means needing lots of space to either store them, or stage them until you can move them to the cloud or Mac or Windows PC. What's more, on devices like iPads, they're even more likely to be competing for that space against large games, documents, and video files.

While the iPad 4 first shipped with a maximum of 64 gigabytes (GB) of storage, last spring Apple added a 128GB option. Once you make something like that available, it's really hard to roll it back. So, an iPad 5 with 128GB of storage makes a lot of sense.

The iPad mini isn't as easy to predict. It's a tablet, like the full-sized iPad, but focused more on portability than power. It didn't get a 128GB option earlier this year - nor did the iPhone 5s last month - and Apple might be content to leave it topping out at a more affordable 64GB.

That would be one more differentiator between 7.9-inch and 9.7-inch tablets that increasingly have less differentiation other than that between them.

More to come

iMore will be providing complete coverage of Apple's October 22 iPad and Mac event, including and especially the iPad 5 and iPad mini 5.

Retina iPad mini

Retina iPad mini
The world's most popular tiny tablet goes Retina. Features include:

Complete review >

Released
November 12, 2013

Alternatives
iPad mini (original), iPad Air, iPad 2

Replacements
iPad Mini 3
Fall, 2014

Resources
Buyers guide
Help forum

iPad Air

iPad Air
Apple's full-sized iPad gets slimmed down. Features include:

Complete review >

Released
November, 2013

Alternatives
Retina iPad mini, iPad 2, iPad mini (original)

Replacements
iPad Air 2 (iPad 6)
Fall, 2014

Resources
Buyers guide
Help forum

Have something to say about this story? Share your comments below! Need help with something else? Submit your question!

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Imagining iPad 5 and iPad mini 2: iSight and FaceTime cameras, storage

4 Comments

I'm still debating if I should try a mini or upgrade my full-sized iPad. I still have an iPad 2, felt no need to upgrade to a 3 or 4 since this one is still running pretty good. And since I always get the largest option, that being 64GB, it's also a costly investment. Maybe I'll hold out for the iPad 7 or 8.

They upped to 128gb on iPad, Mini maxes at 64gb.. though we may see 128 on 22nd for iPad Mini 2.

Personally: I had the iPad and iPad 2, then went Mini and I'm not looking back. It's just so dang portable. I take it just about everywhere I go..

Granted, the new iPad design will be lighter, and a little thinner.. but not enough.. not like the Mini where I can pop it in my coat easy and go.. Thats a big factor for me.. Changed what I was to expect from my tablet.

The iPad 4 and iPad mini actually have a rear camera that is a combination of the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S. It is a 5 megapixel camera like the iPhone 4, but also has a five-element lens like the iPhone 4S.

I have a 5s which is my main photo taking device. However there are times when I want to take photos with my iPad 4 and I often use my iPad with Scanner Pro, because I find it easier to use than the iPhone app. I'd imagine a better camera would benefit the quality of scanning?

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