For a long while speculations have been in large quantity when it came to what tablets Apple is going to release this year. Of course, aside from the iPad Pro we were expecting either the iPad Air 3 or the iPad Mini 4 or why not both… Well, today some Chinese tablet supply chain sources have shed light on that strategy.

ipad-mini-4

It would appear that Apple is not going to release a new iPad Air this year, but rather a fourth gen iPad Mini 4. The hardware partners are already preparing the needed components for the 7.9 inch slate. The newcomer will bring small but crucial upgrades from the iPad Mini 3, probably including an 8 MP camera, improved CPU and more RAM.

The resolution is bound to stay the same and if the iPhone gets Force Touch, maybe the slates will get it too. The fingerprint scanner, new color and 128 GB of storage, the main iPad Mini 3 novelties are here to stay. Since large size phablets are killing smaller tablets, the iPad Mini 4 will have a hard time competing with big screen handsets, especially considering its large price.

So why launch it at all?

  • Robert Jasiek

    The iPad mini 4 is desperately needed to meet the standards set by the Air 2. Concerning hardware and except for Apple-revolutions (such as incorporating a convincing digitizer), probably the Air 2 could be improved only in details (minimum 32GB, USB-C, even less mirroring, better speakers, slightly brigther, less impact of pressure on the displayed colours etc.); not improving its hardware at all is not such a great omission. The greatest possible improvement of the Air 2 by far would be a local file manager giving access to all files. Such would raise the use value of the Air 2 by EUR 200. However, this is the one thing that Apple does not want to provide because, uh, it would make the iPad too good.

    The consequence of not improving the Air 2 will, of course, be, yet another year-to-year decline of 20%, especially if Apple wants to maintain the prices of one year old hardware for yet another year. Big companies and money cash cows can die of arrogrance.

    What are the alternatives?
    – Samsung Tab A: long battery life but low resolution, insecure Android, mirroring display
    – Samsung Tab S2: optional digitizer but not very reliable, insecure Android, mirroring display
    – Surface 3: Digitizer, Windows and file manager but mirroring display and unreplaceable battery
    – HP Tablet 608: Digitizer, Windows and file manager but probably mirroring display, still missing Windows 10 drivers, expensive for 8″and probably no supply for battery replacement

    Hence the iPad Air 2 still plays in the top league concerning the hardware, except for the minimal storage and the missing digitizer. The problems remain the same as always: missing file manager, by far too expensive for missing a file manager and so failing to offer full productive, generic work, too expensive for the storage.

    Maybe Apple surprises us with an Air 3 but not with a file manager.

  • Joaquin Padilla Rivero

    What made the Mini 3 less successful was not necessarily phablets (which are still quite smaller and, most crucially, use another form factor) but the fact that it had zero improvements over the Mini 2 except for TouchID. It’s nice to have, but it’s not worth €100 extra.