Categorized | Apple, Featured, iOS, Tablet News

Is Apple making an iPad Mini?

Nature loves a vacuum, and in tech the biggest vacuum is around Apple: the firm doesn't comment on future products, doesn't announce things months in advance and is more secretive than MI5 - so inevitably, the slightest bit of speculation soon becomes reported around the world. This month's speculation is that Apple is working on a smaller iPad with a 7.85-inch screen: not quite as small as a Kindle Fire, but considerably smaller than an iPad 2.

In some respects the rumour is credible: we know Apple's suppliers have been having problems making double-resolution, ten-inch Retina Displays for the iPad 3, and smaller screens would be easier to manufacture. However, there are multiple reasons why Apple might not want to make a little iPad.

The biggest reason is that apps would have to work across three sizes: not just the iPhone/iPod touch and iPad, but the newer, smaller iPad too. That's counter to Apple's usual way of doing things: it likes to keep things simple, including its product range, and it won't want to introduce a screen that makes existing apps look weird.

The second reason is price: customers would expect a smaller iPad to be cheaper, and Apple can't do that without cutting significant corners. We can imagine a smaller iPad, but we can't imagine an iPad that isn't as smooth and as well-made as the current model.

The third reason is that Apple has specifically ruled out seven-inch tablets: in 2010, Steve Jobs said that seven inch devices were simply too small "unless your tablet also includes sandpaper, so that the user can sand down their fingers to around one quarter of their present size". That may have been typical Jobs reality distortion - over the years he's ruled out all kinds of things that Apple went on to make - but Jobs also said that small tablets aren't significantly cheaper to make and that below ten inches customers don't get a good user experience.

Last but not least, Apple already makes an iPad mini. It's called the iPod touch.

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