Apple is expected to hold a media event on 15 October, where it will announce updates to the iPad and iPad mini, including new colours, the implementation of Touch ID, and a new, slimmer design for the full-size iPad. Here's everything we know so far.
Leaked parts shows narrower and squarer fifth generation iPad. (SWwebmaster)
The iPad has been with us for more than four years now, and during that time it's design has only changed once, in 2010. From the second generation onwards, the Apple tablet has gained a retina display, extra storage, a more powerful processor and a switch to the new Lightning charging port, but the overall look and feel has remained the same.
This year, however, Apple is looking to shake things up by mirroring the thinner and narrowing design of the iPad mini. Previously, the extra space either side of the screen (when held in portrait) acted as somewhere to rest your thumbs without accidentally touching the display. But the iPad mini does away with this need, instead relying on software to ignore unintended touches of the screen - porting this over to the full-size iPad will see the tablet shrink noticeably for its fifth generation.
A Chinese video showing a leaked iPad 5 rear panel claims the new tablet to be 2mm shorter than the old model, but a full 16mm narrower, thanks to the slimmer screen bezel.
Photo shows iPad 5 front panel laid over a forth-generation iPad. (Unbox Therapy)
The leaked iPad 5 components also show it using the same silver and 'space grey' colours as the new iPhone 5s - and although a gold iPad is yet to be seen, leaks of a champagne-coloured iPad mini have surfaced online, so three shades of full-size iPad is entirely possible.
The new model also loses the gradual tapering around the edge, instead opting for a squarer design similar to the iPad mini.
Meanwhile, the second-generation iPad mini is thought to remain unchanged, with leaked components looking identical to the current model, save for the update to space grey, silver and gold colours.
We're yet to see a fully built fifth generation iPad, but given a leaked image of the new iPad mini revealed a Touch ID sensor on the Home button, we're fully expecting Apple to bring the iPhone 5s's most interesting feature to the larger tablet as well.
Leaked photo shows a gold iPad mini 2 with Touch ID fingerprint reader. (Sonny Dickson)
A fingerprint reader, the iPhone 5s's Touch ID sensor can be used to unlock the phone instead of entering a PIN or passcode, and users can also press one of up to five registered fingers against it to buy content from the iTunes and App stores without entering their Apple ID password.
Seemingly confirming the sensor's appearance in the new iPad is a video by Unbox Therapy demonstrating how the new iPad's front panel will not accommodate the Home button from the year-old current iPad - the button is too large - but the Touch ID sensor from an iPhone 5s fits perfectly.
Processor, RAM and Storage
Both new iPads are expected to share the same 64-bit A7 processor as the iPhone 5s, and renowned iDevice leaker Sonny Dickson claims the new iPad will have its RAM doubled to 2GB. Dickson also says the new iPads will get the M7 coprocessor used by the iPhone 5s, but why a tablet needs the ability to record your running and exercise is a mystery.
Regarding the iPad mini, we at first though it would get the lesser A6 processor, a step up from the A5 in the current model, but Dickson claims his sources have told him the iPad mini 2 will also get the A7, but with 1GB of RAM - double the current model.
Little is known so far regarding storage options, but after four years we'd like to see Apple finally ditch the 16GB version. While this amount of storage is just about acceptable on a smartphone, iPad applications are generally larger and the big screen lends itself to watching HD films and TV - both of which take up space and make 16GB seem insulting. We hope Apple goes for 32GB, 64GB and 128GB options for the fifth generation.
Little has been said about the iPad's retina display, so we're expecting it to remain unchanged for another year, measuring 9.7in and with a resolution of 2048 x 1536.
Apple might have improved display quality - changes to the backlight, contrast ratio, colour accuracy - but otherwise the panel remains as impressive as it was when first introduced at the start of 2012.
As for the iPad mini, however, this is where we're hoping for a major upgrade. When the first mini came out last year we couldn't help but think the 1024 x 768 screen resolution should have been higher. Spoilt by retina displays in the iPhone and full-size iPad, the mini has always looked slightly blurry in comparison.
To fix this, a retina-screened mini 2 makes perfect sense, but recent speculation from Apple's supply chain suggests manufacturers are struggling to make the screen in the quantity Apple demands. This could lead to severe stock shortages at launch, a delay until early next year, or even the possibility than the iPad mini will go another generation before seeing a retina screen.
This would be a major kick in the teeth for Apple, especially as both Google and Amazon have recently launched 7in tablets with retina-level screen resolutions - the new Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HDX respectively.
The fifth generation iPad 5 is narrower than last-year's model. (Sonny Dickson)
KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo - who, back in August, correctly predicted much of Apple's recent iPhone announcement - believes the new iPads will each get an 8-megapixel rear camera with improved lens elements, up from the 5mp sensors currently used.
Apart from a £20 price drop from the first to second generation in 2010, the iPad has retained its £399 starting price through every generation since.
Upping the base model to 32GB while keeping the price at £399 would be ideal, but this being Apple we wouldn't be surprised if the price rose slightly to accommodate the increase in storage.
The rumour mills are yet to pin down a release date for the new iPads, but if the October 15 announcement goes ahead as expected - and we'll know for sure if media invitations arrive on the 8th - then the tablets should go on sale by November at the latest.
If reports of an iPad mini delay turn out to be true, however, it could be several months before the smaller tablet arrives - no doubt a blow if it means Apple miss the Christmas shopping season.
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