The iPad mini will share the stage with an updated third-gen iPad that packs international 4G support, according to a new report.
Apple is widely expected to unveil the rumored ‘iPad mini’ at a press event this month, with many speculating that event invites will be sent to the press as soon as tomorrow, October 10th. The mythical 7-inch tablet will likely be priced between $200-$250 and target competition like the Google Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire. Apple has been poised to enter the cheaper tablet market for quite some time, and the company has reportedly started manufacturing an upwards of 10 million units to sell this holiday season.
A new report today claims that the iPad mini will be Wi-Fi-only, unlike the current third-gen iPad that can operate on 3G and 4G carrier networks. Apple is also expected to unveil an updated version of the current third-gen iPad with 4G support in the U.K. and the new Lighting dock.
The Guardian reports that Apple will be keeping the iPad mini priced below $300 by not including support for carrier networks:
Apple’s expected “iPad mini” will only come in a Wi-Fi version – but there will also be a revised version of the iPad with 4G connectivity compatible with the UK’s Everything Everywhere network, and sporting the new “Lightning” connector, industry sources have told the Guardian.
Industry sources indicated to the Guardian that they do not expect to see 3G-capable versions of the iPad mini. That would allow Apple to produce it comparatively cheaply and to limit the top price of the product, while retaining mobile broadband connectivity for its pricier iPad line.
It’s not really surprising that Apple would choose to omit 3G/4G from the iPad mini, given the rumored price point. It will be interesting to see how Apple markets and positions a non-Retina, smaller, cheaper iPad without 3G.
Echoing earlier rumors, The Guardian is also hearing that Apple will revise the third-gen iPad that was released earlier this year:
Sources also indicated that they expect Apple to refresh the iPad line by following up the introduction of the iPhone 5, which is 4G-capable in the UK through Everything Everywhere’s 1800MHz network – and from next September with Three – with revised versions using the same 1800MHz 4G chip and the new connector.
Apple has actually updated iOS devices mid-cycle in the past, such as the case of the original iPhone’s storage bump back in 2008. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, Apple usually doesn’t make a big deal out of it. Announcing an updated third-gen iPad with Lightning and added international 4G support would take about two minutes at an Apple event, and the iPad 4 would still be on track for the typical early-2013 announcement timeframe.
Retail sources for The Guardian say they are anticipating new products from Apple in November, suggesting that Apple will probably make the iPad mini available for sale a couple weeks after this month’s event.