We sift through the latest rumours concerning the specifications, features, exterior appearance and launch dates of the iPad mini 2, iPad 5 and iPhone 6.
Even before summer, the iOSphere languishes in the iPad rumour doldrums, apparently having exhausted itself with hopes for a Retina display iPad mini 2, and the A7 chip for the iPad 5. But there is hope: The Rollup uncovered the radical iPadiGlasses, in an exclusive report.
Also this week, fan art along with leaked specifications that sound utterly familiar ooze into the iOSphere to reveal the iPad mini 2; the same rumour, through iOSphere mitosis, subdivides into a new rumour about the A7 for iPad mini 2; and both Next iPads will be rushed to release because of the ongoing fall in product sales for the current ones.
You read it here second... except for the iPadiGlasses.
"There are some clear improvements here over the existing iPad mini that should make this a no brainer upgrade for most existing owners."
-- Matthew Humphries, Geek.com, basing his assessment on Photoshopped fan art depicting an imagined iPad mini 2, and a rehash of other rumours that have long since worn out their welcome
iPad mini 2 revealed in fan art and "leaked" specifications
With so little else happening rumor-wise, the iOSphere seized on a post from the Dutch website MobiLeaks, which revealed the iPad mini 2.
This "information" is based on 1) "a detailed render of [from] our tipster," meaning a piece of Photoshopped fan art; and 2) "a list of some specifications" which were "received," meaning copied and pasted from other rumors circulating for months. Confusingly, the post doesn't make clear whether both art and list are from the same "tipster" or different sources.
[ CATCHING UP: Last week's iPad 5 rumour rollup ]
Here's the fan art which shows, essentially, the same iPad mini you have today except with a nearly non-existent side bezel to left and right. And it's 0.2 millimeters thicker.
According to Adnan Farooqui, posting at Ubergizmo, "The person who created this render claims to have based it on the information received about the design of iPad mini's successor." In fact, no such claim is made or even hinted at by MobiLeaks.
The purportedly revelatory list of specifications includes the by-now-familiar stuff: 7.9-inch 2048 x 1536 pixel Retina display, 324 pixels per inch, A6X chip (unless it turns out to be the A7 chip), 8 megapixel front camera and so on.
"More iPad mini 2 specs and renders have leaked on a Dutch website, showing off a retina display," according to Clare Hopping's breathless post at TheFullSignal.
Hopping's post reflects the persistent, almost willful misunderstanding of what "leak" means in journalism or even bloggerism. To cite the Wikipedia reference: "A news leak is a disclosure of embargoed information in advance of its official release, or the unsanctioned release of confidential information." In other words, it's someone who knows actually knows something, telling someone else about it.
Or you can just pretend that an utterly unfounded rumor is a leak, which is that Matthew Humphries does at Geek.com. "There are some clear improvements here over the existing iPad mini that should make this a no brainer upgrade for most existing owners. The display remains the same size, but has increased its resolution to match that of its big brother. Apparently we're also going to see the processor upgraded from the dual-core A5 to an A6X chip, which is necessary to handle that higher resolution display. Both cameras are also getting a healthy upgrade from the current 5MP and 1.2MP parts."
Remember that he bases this on the MobiLeaks post which itself is based on nothing. Except possibly wishful thinking.
iPad mini 2 will have A7 processor
Apple rumors, like amoebas, reproduce themselves by a process of mitosis: they subdivide into new entities.
The MobiLeaks post mentioned above had the following about the Next iPad mini's processor: "The processor of the iPad Mini 2 is the Apple A6X, who also was fitted on the iPad 4. But according to our tipster is still not fixed. Since Apple is engaged in the production of the A7 chip, there is a possibility that this chipset is provided on the new iPad Mini."
In other words, the tablet will have the existing A6X chip. Unless it has the not-yet-existing A7 chip.
Here's how International Business Times' Erik Pineda interpreted this "report." First, the carefully designed headline: "iPad 5, iPad Mini 2 with Retina Landing in September with A7 Chips - Report."
Yet the MobiLeaks post nowhere mentions "iPad 5."
Pineda's opening sentence: "Apple's iPad 5 and iPad Mini 2 release date has been set for September this year and the new iOS 7 tablet rollout is packed with vast improvements like Retina display panel and a faster A7 computing chip, a new report said."
An unsubstantiated, unsourced blog post that merely repeats other rumours becomes a fertile source for multiple new rumours, equally without foundation.
iPad mini 2, iPad 5, iPhone 6: processors
The issue of what chip Apple will use in the Next iPads, and Next iPhone, is the subject of endless speculation. Depending on how one defines "next," Next iDevices will have a 64-bit A7, a 20 nanometer A7, a four-core A7, some combination of these, the A6X chip now in the fourth-generation iPad, or even a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor.
To power the Retina display to the third-generation iPad, introduced in March 2012, Apple created the A5X system-on-chip, choosing a 45 nanometer silicon process instead of 32 nanometer, resulting in a really big component, with an area of 163 square millimeters compared to 123 for the A5. And it created a much bigger battery. Apple faces the same issues in powering a Retina display but it has solve them in the physically much smaller iPad mini.
iPad 5, iPad mini 2 will be released soon due to "big drop" in iPad 4, iPad mini sales
File this under Apple Zombie Rumours: It just will not die.
Weeks ago, Apple CEO Tim Cook clearly said in the most recent earnings call that Apple will start announcing new products, software and services starting in fall of 2013 and into 2014.
"Consumers may get their hands on iPad 5 and iPad Mini 2 soon as Apple seems pressured to release its tablets due to the drop in sales in its current models," declares Kristin Dian Mariano, in a post at International Business Times.
And the basis for the alleged drop in sales? "Reports." Like the now notorious report from Bloomberg.
"According to a report from Bloomberg, two of the key products from Apple, iPhone 5 and the iPad Mini, are expected to have a 25-30% drop in the second quarter," Mariano writes confidently. "This is because of the decline in consumers buying the current models of iPad and is waiting for the successors of the devices."
This seemingly straightforward comment is wrong in so many ways that we can't cover all of them, though The Rollup first touched on this controversy in last week's iPhone 6 Rumor Rollup [see the section "iPhone 6 will be assembled in Apple's own factories"].
The Bloomberg story to which IBT refers but does not link is this one, by Tim Culpan.
Culpan clearly has OEM manufacturer, and Apple partner, Pegatron saying that a decline in its revenues is due to falling demand for the iPad mini. Fortune's Philip Elmer-Dewitt was the first to identify the problems with Culpan's account, not least of which was the fact that Pegatron's CEO never said anything like that.
That critique has gone viral, prompting a tidal wave of invective and condemnation. The Loop as usual succinctly summed it up with its headline: "In which Bloomberg just makes shit up about the iPad mini."
Mariano clearly isn't a Loop reader herself or maybe she is and it doesn't matter because made-up stuff is what rumors are all about anyway. "[I]t is clear to Apple consumers that many new products are right around the corner including the iPhone 5S, the iPad 5 and the iPad Mini 2," she gushes. "So of course sales will start to decline on the current products because people are waiting to buy the newest version when it comes out."
The phenomenon of putting off a buying decision is one that Apple executives have acknowledged in the past. But iPads have only been available since April 2010 and the purchase pattern is much more varied than for either iPhone or especially iPod, as this chart from APPLinvestors.com shows (it covers the first 11 quarters of iPad sales). There is no plateau for iPad, at least not yet: The overall trend is strongly upward even with the increased variance in quarterly sales in the past 5 quarters or so.
Combine it with this companion chart showing cumulative sales for the same three products. iPad so far has been growing at a faster rate than iPhone did initially: It reached the 100 million unit mark in 10 quarters, while the iPhone reached it in 16.
iPad mini 2 in radical new form factor, and new name: iPadiGlasses
In general, the Next iPad rumours this week were so impoverished, so unimaginative, so lame, so well, you get the idea. Anyway, The Rollup thinks you deserve better.
So, the Rollup polled a key group of anonymous tipsters from all levels of the rumour supply chain, who are familiar enough with Apple's plans to be able to embroider them extravagantly, and we created our own rumour: the iPadiGlasses. We even have an actual photograph, no matter what anyone says, shown here of an actual prototype recently seen, apparently, at a beerhouse somewhere between Cupertino and Mountain View.
As you can see, it consists of not one but two radically revamped iPad minis, minied still further, and working in tandem: Together, they create a 16:9 aspect ratio big-screen, totally immersive HD experience. The "lenses" use a radical new transparent, lightweight, Superduper AMOLED (SdAMOLED) tinted glass that doubles as stylish sunglasses. Finally, all those weird patents for curved screen technology make sense: iPadiGlasses 2 will have "wrap-around" lenses.
Finally, Apple gets rid of the home button. A mere glance triggers the home screen. It's now revealed that Apple did not buy Authentic for its fingerprint sensor, but for its highly secret retina scanning sensor, now built into iPadiGlasses, and dubbed "Retina scan" in keeping with the unit's Retina display.
The UI can work by eye and head movements, like twitches and jerks. But Apple didn't stop there: It's added facial recognition software that detects and responds to grimaces, sneers, leers, and even tears.
The rumoured curved battery is now a fact: embedded in the frame. The A7XYZ processor, code-named "zowie," along with memory and storage, and all that other stuff, is contained in a slender hinged compartment at the back of the iPadiGlasses.
And, finally, Apple has included a radical new Near Field Communications chip and software so you can use your iPadiGlasses as a mobile wallet. You just bend over and tap the glasses against the cash register or other NFC reader.
No information on pricing. At long last, we now know why Tim Cook delayed everything until next autumn.
John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.
Email: [email protected]
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