iPad mini won't be much smaller, but will be a lot narrower, thinner, and lighter

iMore previously reported that Apple would be releasing an iPad mini in October for around $200-$250, and that it would be announced at the iPhone 5 event on September 12. At the time we heard that it looked and worked like the 9.7-inch iPad, only smaller. That makes sense both from a financial and interface perspective. However, unlike the next iPhone whose parts leaks have given us an idea of just what it might look like, the exact design of the 7-inch iPad has been much more mysterious. Earlier tonight, however, Seth Weintraub from 9to5Mac posted a mockup of the iPad mini showing a narrower profile with a much thinner size bezel than the 9.7-inch iPad.

Based on several sources, I believe that design to be an accurate representation of what the iPad mini will look like. In addition, it's my understanding that it will be the exact same thinness as the iPod touch, which is substantially thinner than the 9.7-inch iPad. The quick mockup above shows what I believe are accurate proportions for the iPad mini compared to the 9.7-inch iPad and the current generation iPod touch 4.

Looking at it, the iPad mini may not seem radically smaller than the 9.7-inch iPad. And that's the point. It's not supposed to be a major compromise in screen size or usability. It is, however, thinner and lighter enough to make a substantial difference. Holding it with one hand will be easier, and holding it for prolonged periods of time will be much easier.

It's those two elements, the lightness at that size, that allows for the smaller bezel -- just like the iPod touch's thinness and lightness allows for even less size bezel. (Obviously the top and bottom bezel aren't as radically thin, due to the components that need to be placed there, like the Home button.)

Most importantly, this isn't a big iPod touch.

The Google Nexus 7 is arguably closer to a big iPod touch than this device. The Nexus 7, in part, scales up smartphone interface elements and apps. The iPad mini runs the iPad version of iOS and scales it down. The iPad mini is an iPad, and that makes a tremendous difference. That allows it to run that higher class of apps that Steve Jobs talked about.

This is a full on iPad, just smaller and lighter.

Likewise, the iPad mini not intended to woo away people who might currently be buying a Google Nexus 7 or Amazon Kindle Fire -- not to be a jerk, but that's not a significant market for Apple. While Apple might want to nip those devices in the bud now, as opposed to when they hit their second or third generation and become truly competitive, it seems like the primary consideration right now is a far more massive market, a hundreds of millions of devices sold market:

People who haven't yet bought an iPad because it was too big or too expensive, but would buy it if was lighter and cheaper.

At around $200-$250, thin, and very light, Apple will lower the barrier of entry and once again greatly expand the reach of iOS. While that might cannibalize the existing iPad market, Apple has repeatedly shown a willingness to do just that -- they'd much rather cannibalize themselves than let a competitor do it. The iPod mini, iPod nano, and even 11-inch MacBook Air are prime examples.

The iPad mini should hit the shelves in time for the holidays. And it should sell like hotcakes.

Note: For some of the discussion behind all of this, check out the Branch M.G. Siegler hosted last night with me, Seth Weintraub, Mark Gurman, Matthew Panzarino, Jim Dalyrymple, and several others.

Update 1: John Gruber of Daring Fireball has weighed in, adding:

The iPad Mini, based on my best guess hunch dimensions of 200 × 135 x 7.2 mm = 193,680 cubic mm. Divide and you get 78 percent. The Nexus 7 weighs 340 grams, so, let’s guess that the iPad Mini will weigh just 265 grams.For comparison, the WiFi-only iPad (3) weighs 652 grams, and the Amazon Kindle 3G with keyboard weighs about 247 grams. So a sub-300-gram smaller iPad would be pretty light.

Update 2: Here's another quick mockup, this time giving a rough example of how thin the iPad mini will be, and how that compares not only with existing iOS devices, but the Google Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire as well.

Rene Ritchie
Contributor

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

52 Comments
  • Still find $200 to be a tad optimistic. I'm thinking $250 for a 16GB version would be ideal though we're likely to get 8GB at that price and 16GB at $299.
  • I tend to agree however I'm hoping Apple can bring down the price. If this "mini" is around $350 I'm out. I love my iPhone but that's just too high. I'd end up getting the Nexus 7 or nothing at all.
  • Still only 1024x768?
  • well obviously. they didn't want to have to make developers resize every app
  • I can't see this launching in September. The iPhone would cannibalize its sales. I also don't think there would be a 3G version in this generation because that too would canibilize iPad (big) sales. It would also add cost.
    Google my name for a rumor podcast. I'll be talking about this.
  • I agree with you that there may not be cellular models but iPads and iPhones don't cannibalize each other.
  • If you could only pick one though, which would it be? Many are fortunate enough to pick both, but most cannot, o a choice would have to be made. If I was given a choice I would pick the iPhone over the iPad mini. I have both the iPhone4 and the original iPad right now. Though thinking about more, they are less likely to cannibalize if the iPad mini cannot do 3G data.
  • iPhone is a completely different device, with a different form factor and mostly different uses on the whole. I don't see this cannibalising iPhones at all.
  • first realistic model i believe, gonna exist..its not going to cannibalize any existing product in -ve way. its better than cannibalize by the products of other companies. as biography said, "apple can't stop innovating or showing new product to people". they are not afraid of cannibalizing sales by their own products. they are smart enough of not letting others to do that.
  • once the iPad Mini goes retina, I'll purchase. If this mock up is a good, albeit not accurate, representation, it looks good and I like the size.
  • I'll believe it when I see it. Basically now it's a dreamed up idea from bloggers needing something to talk about. I enjoy my 9.7 inch iPad. It's perfect in size for viewing and I don't believe a pound and a half is heavy for a computer. Just saying.
  • I don't like that; I prefer the old one which we thought it would look like, that's hideous man.
  • Just out of curiosity, how is the Nexus 7 more like a big iPod Touch and the iPad Mini isn't? If it has to do with Android not having a lot of apps that are optimized for use on a tablet, I can understand that. If not, I'm not sure what causes you to come to that conclusion.
  • Just asked the exact same thing. I didn't see your post.
  • I think it has to do with what Rene believes are different app experiences for devices larger than 7 inches. I don't perceive that boundary as vividly as some seem to but I won't say that I'm convinced that it does not exist. The current iPad screensize works for me largely because it approximates the size of a piece of paper (8.5 x 11). So a mini device wouldn't be as ideal but could be useful in certain ways.
  • Nexus 7's interface is a combination of Android tablet and smartphone interfaces, of which smartphone interfaces currently dominate to an absurd degree. The iPad mini runs the iPad iOS interface, not iPhone iOS. As mentioned in the article, that allows for a fundamentally higher class of apps. (Of which the iPad has tens of thousands now.) Software more than shape, IMHO, determines what something is "like".
  • I'll admit...the default interface for the Nexus 7 was a bad move for Google. The combined Tablet/Smartphone interface is not the way to experience the the device in its most ideal form. They really need to change the default interface to give a better experience from the start. They will lose people to the iPad Mini because of this...so you are entirely correct in this. Android is, of course, notoriously more friendly to modifications...even without rooting. Fixing this tablet/smartphone interface is simple to do. Getting the full tablet experience with the "higher class of apps" just takes being rooted (simple to do, was the first thing I did after starting up the tablet), and 1 app. Yes, I shouldn't have to do this, it should come stock this way...but my point is...doing this on Android is simple...doing the same on iOS is like pulling teeth. Apple's looking to capture that captive audience of iPhone owners who don't quite want to buy an iPad, or don't want a tablet that big, and also don't want to abandon the money they've spent on apps in the Apple app store. I don't see a lot of Nexus 7 owners jumping ship for an iPad mini...even with the default interface it is a great tablet experience. Modifying it just made it an ideal tablet experience for me. I really don't see much need for a 10" tablet for me. If I were to get one it wouldn't be the tablet I carry daily on my train rides to and from work...the Nexus 7 is ideal in that role. Kindle Fire owners on the other hand (I am one, but it's gathering dust now at home) may defect if they aren't too heavily invested in the Amazon/Android ecosystem. The Kindle Fire interface is subpar...and even a rooted Fire with a different launcher is nothing like the experience I have with my modified Nexus 7. People looking for tablet rather than an e-reader who haven't already gotten a Nexus 7 are potential defectors for the iPad Mini. The Fire is an e-reader...not a proper Android tablet. Someone going in expecting a tablet are targets for Apple. I don't see Amazon releasing a newer version of the Fire with a proper tablet interface...they built exactly what they wanted to build...a color e-reader that can also run Android apps. It's really a different class of tablet from the Nexus 7 (modified to a tablet interface) or iPad mini. Apple wants a chunk of that market...though the unsatisfied iPhone owners are their bigger target with the iPad mini. I don't see them hitting the $200 mark with it though. I'd say an 8GB at $250 is more realistic...with a 16GB at $300 being the backup option. Another way they could differentiate is to offer cellular connectivity...and that could pull over some more of the market...since both the Fire and the 7 are wifi only. Won't get me though...I just tether to my phone and have all the connectivity I need on T-Mobile.
  • "The iPad mini runs the iPad iOS interface" Say what? We don't even know if there is an iPad mini in the making and you already know for a fact that it runs iPad iOS and not iPhone iOS? Have you ever seen one in operation? On a different note, I agree with Steve Jobs, 7" is too small for a tablet. In fact, I think the iPad could be an inch larger. The added space could be enough to make it just as thin as the iPod Touch.
  • You don't know what you're missing until you use one...trust me on this. I see a lot of electronic devices during my commute. On the commuter train I see everything from full size laptops, 10" tablets, 7" tablets (very few, more kindle fires than nexus 7's), e-readers, and smartphones. On the bus I only see smartphones, e-readers, and 7" tablets because of the cramped spaces. I have never seen someone haul out an iPad on the bus. It is too big for those cramped spaces. That makes the 7" tablet the ideal tablet for the commuter. It's big enough to comfortably watch movies on (can't say the same for smartphones), but small enough women can fit them in their purses and men can put them in pockets (at least my nexus 7 is narrow enough for that). That makes it easily stow-able when you need to be on the move quick. Steve Jobs dismissed 7" tablets and look at what we are discussing...a possible 7" Apple tablet. He was notorious for dismissing things until it came time for Apple to reinvent it their way. This does not mean he thought it was a bad idea...it just means he was being dismissive to hide his true interest in it. Apple would be stupid not to fill that gap between the iPad and the iPhone...especially with how popular the 7" tablets are becoming.
  • I think they are referring to the home screen which is portrait only on the Nexus 7 and the iPod touch as opposed to the iPad which works in portrait and landscape.
  • Rene without even holding the device or knowing the official look of the new iPad mini, how can you say its not a big iPod touch like the Nexus 7? Just curious how you came up with this conclusion.
  • me too
  • It runs the iPad version of the iOS interface, not the iPod touch version. Software is the high order bit.
  • Do you know that for a fact? Have you seen one?
  • Interesting. Not quite sure I agree about the narrower bezel on the longer edges. I still think it would be better to have a more or less even width all the way around. Even if it means slightly larger overall device dimensions. It would just be easier to hold the iPad mini on any edge, in any orientation, if the bezel were more or less the same width all around. The iPhone is small enough to palm (no pun intended) so it doesn't need a bezel at all, really. But even an iPad mini needs a bezel for the thumb.
  • From using my Nexus 7..it's narrow enough that I can palm it too. I can also slip it into the pockets on my slacks (standard business casual dockers) and the rear pockets on my jeans. That helps when I'm juggling headphones and my phone when getting ready to get off the train in the morning. If they don't go that narrow they are making it less convenient and more difficult to handle. Wider means you need the bigger bezel...narrower like the Nexus 7 you don't. It's still there and big enough for a thumb...so it gives you option in how to hold it. It's a tradeoff between screen width and convenience in holding/pocketing it.
  • It will be a mistake if they make the 7″ iPad as thin as Gruber suggests. Why? just imagine yourself holding it in your palm (with your thumb on top of the iPad and other four fingers supporting below), you must bend your palm so much, that it is tiring to do so for a long time.
    This is true even if it has a feather-like weight, the problem is the palm positions and not the weight.
  • I like the idea. A 299 or so tablet is easier to handle if I'm getting the kid one. Personally, I just sold the new ipad to switch from att to verizon. But I'm just going to hold off and see if I even miss it as I was hardly using it.
  • This is the device I've been waiting for. I passed on both previous iterations of the iPad. Why? Too big. I passed on the 7'' tablets from other manufacturers. Why? They weren't iPads. THIS IS THE DEVICE I'VE BEEN WAITING FOR.
  • If this is happening then it is going to be the number one Christmas item on my wife's list.
  • Am I the only one that doesnt get this? Apple will sell an ipad for $500
    A smaller version (itouch) for $200 (And we are told they completely different for the ipad) And now, they will introduce something right in the middle, for the same price as the itouch? (and this also will be nothing like the itouch, but just like the ipad?) Either this will be a large itouch and sell for a little more, or it will be a small ipad, and sell for something closer to the ipad price ($300-$350)
  • I agree: I can't see it selling for less than $299, unless they also drop the bottom out of the price of the iPod Touch like making it $149, or introduce the long-awaited 128 gig version for $249 or something. I'll add an iPad mini to my device menagerie if it has a retina screen, but not if it's 1024 x 768. That is, I'll pay more for it if it has the retina screen, but won't buy it at all if it doesn't. Apple can get away with charging a premium, well, because it's Apple, so they shouldn't go cheap on the iPad mini "just" to compete in the "entry level tablet" space. The iPad 2 at $399 is "entry level" enough. The iPad Mini should be about form factor, not about specs, and if I knew that the iPad Mini had the same specs at an iPad 3 but smaller, I'd put my iPad 3 up for sale today.
  • I agree... Even if it would be great, I don't believe much about a $249 iPad. However, I do believe Apple will just stop to sell the iPad 2 as soon as they're introducing the iPad mini. That way, I can easily see a: - $299 iPad mini 7.85" 16GB
    - $399 iPad mini 7.85" 32GB
    - $499 iPad mini 7.85" 64GB That would make the transition between the iPod Touch and the iPad 9.7". I don't believe in 3G or 4G network, mainly since you can share your iPhone Cell network. It will reduce the cost, antenna, space, etc... And if you want 3G/4G, you could still use the bigger iPad. They need to keep some feature for the big brother model :) They might keep a $249GB (iPad Mini 8GB), but I doubt about it, they never or rarely have more than 3 choices and it would be time to move away from the 8GB models. Maybe they will also announce a storage bump for the current iPad 9.7" and finally increase to 32GB, 64GB and 128GB... I'm just thinking out loud while hoping for an iPad mini 7.85" 64GB.
  • The Ipad mini design is realistic enough. The size is just about right. I would have to agree that it would be difficult to hold, as almost are tablets are.
  • Go to Sam's Club and try out a Nexus 7...it's not difficult to hold due to the narrowness of the screen. You can easily palm it like you would a big phone. When I'm palming my Nexus 7 I'm not overly stretching out my hand to grip the sides of the tablet. That narrowness also allows me to slip it in areas a wider iPad mini wouldn't be able to fit, like pants pockets...making it ultra-conveinent. Google got the size right for portability.
  • "The Google Nexus 7 is arguably closer to a big iPod touch than this device. The Nexus 7, in part, scales up smartphone interface elements and apps." - And with this I saw that poster has no clue when it comes to 'something else than apple' and stopped reading.
  • Uum the mini is a big iPod. It runs the same ios as the ipod uses it will scale apps differently but it is more of a stretched iPod touch.
  • Speculation based on rendered images, which themselves aren't based on any factual information, can't be considered an "accurate" representation of anything other than idol speculation. Apple hasn't announced any form of iPad mini any more than they announced an Apple TV set that everyone was speculating on and posting renders of before last year's holiday season. Just like all of the iPhone 5 speculation led to no iPhone 5 last year and no Apple TV set was announced or launched then. It's unlikely that there i