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Everything you need to know about the iPad mini

  • ipad-mini-fake1.jpg

    An artist's rendering of the new iPad mini. (Martin Hajek)

  • ipad-mini-fake2.JPG

    An artist's rendering of the new iPad mini. (Martin Hajek)

Apple is expected to finally unveil its long-awaited, perpetually rumored “iPad mini” at a media event tomorrow.

With Google and Amazon both releasing smaller-sized tablets, it was only a matter of time before Apple entered this very lucrative section of the tablet market. So what should you expect? More of what you’ve been accustomed to, if the various details that have surfaced prove accurate.

A 7.85-inch non-Retina screen

The magic number is 7.85, according to various leaks and reports. The world got its first peek at an actual display last week when wireless repair parts supplier ETrade Supply posted the first pictures of the iPad mini’s display. The LCD screen “is almost 8 inch with about 162 mm in length and 124 mm in width,” the supplier wrote on its official blog.

This maintains an aspect ratio of 4:3. The display will have a resolution of 1,024 × 768, according to a new report by DigiTimes, citing unnamed sources in Taiwan. That means it won’t sport a super high quality Retina display, but will have the same resolution as the iPad 2 (with its 9.7-inch screen).

No Retina might disappoint some but it makes sense for Apple, meaning the device will be lower cost, thinner and suck up less power. Plus since the size is smaller, the display will have a higher pixel density compared to the older iPad.

Starting at $329

Price is the next big question, especially since Amazon and Google’s offerings start around $200, about half the price of a new iPad. It’s not Apple’s style to compete on price, however, and the company isn't shy about tacking on a healthy premium.

“We do not believe Apple needs to price as low as $199 to match Google’s Nexus 7 and Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD,” Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu said. Instead, Wu believes the iPad mini will fit somewhere between the $299 iPod Touch and the $399 Wi-Fi only iPad. In other words a “a price point of $299 or $349.”

This range matches the rumors of $329, reported by 9to5mac. Pricing for more memory and cellular coverage will likely mirror iPad models in the past: $100 extra for more storage and a $130 premium over similar memory models for 3G or LTE capabilities.

A familiar addition to the family will ship Nov. 2

Small screen aside, the rest should be familiar territory according to most reports: skinny bezels similar to the iPod Touch, the new Lightning connector, front and rear cameras, and an ultra-thin design synonymous with Apple’s classic looks. 

And the smaller, sleeker, cheaper iPad mini will ship Nov. 2 a source "close to Apple's supply chain" told TechCrunch recently.

A focus on education

Apple will “make a point of highlighting the educational abilities of the iPad,” reported Bloomberg, noting that the company is realigning its sales force to focus on pushing tablets. We could also see a new version of iBooks so that Apple can show off features like visual textbooks.

So is the iPad mini for you? Analysts are certainly starting to drool; Deutsche Bank’s Chris Whitmore believes the $250 to $350 price point is currently underserved. And Apple, with its brand, ecosystem, and developer support, is perfectly position to take advantage of it. 

"If Apple is able to price the iPad mini at ~$250, the product will be a barnburner; especially during this holiday season," he wrote in a note to clients.

Apple is similarly enthusiastic, if we believe the rumors. The company has allegedly ordered more than 10 million iPad minis from suppliers.