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Handhelds Apple

Thoughts On the iPad Mini 214

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-bet-it-will-have-a-button dept.
John Gruber at Daring Fireball has a thoughtful piece about the design of Apple's smaller iPad, which the company is expected to announce on September 12. Simply shrinking the current iPad's dimensions to a new form factor is unlikely, he says, and the bezel surrounding the display is more likely to be a cross between an iPad and an iPhone. He also discusses evidence of Apple's PR team getting the rumor mill going immediately after the announcement of Google's Nexus 7, and how Apple has probably bet on having a thinner and lighter tablet than Google, rather than worrying about a better display. Quoting: "Apple product designs are true to themselves. Each thing has proportions suited to its own nature. Consider how the iPad doesn’t look like a blown up iPhone. They share a few similar design elements — a family resemblance, if you will — but the proportions are different. The iPad has a thick bezel surrounding all four sides of the display; the iPhone does not. Why? Because you need a place to rest your thumbs while holding an iPad. ... Should not the iPad Mini fall somewhere in between? Not as close to the aspect ratio of its display as the iPad-as-we-know-it, but also not as far away from its display aspect ratio as the iPhone. You might need more thumb-rest room on the sides than you do on the iPhone, but not nearly as much as you do on the full-size iPad. If that assumption is right, the proportions of a 7.85-inch 4:3-aspect-ratio display iPad Mini are likely not the same as the proportions of the 9.7-inch 4:3-aspect-ratio display iPad."
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Thoughts On the iPad Mini

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  • by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @08:16AM (#40995395) Journal

    Hmmmmm. It's true -- some people do prefer 7" over 9".

  • by guises (2423402) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @08:21AM (#40995419)
    It's a smaller iPad. Tiny differences about bezels don't matter, we all know what to expect here. The only question is the price - how much of a premium is this going to be over a Nexus 7?
    • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @08:23AM (#40995441) Journal

      It's a smaller iPad.

      My god that's innovative! They should totally patent that idea!

      • by hackula (2596247)
        1) a patent for a tablet the size of the iPad
        2) a patent for a tablet smaller than the iPad
        3) a patent for a tablet larger than the iPad
        4) ...Mwahahaha!
        5) profit!
      • by guttentag (313541)

        It's a smaller iPad.

        My god that's innovative! They should totally patent that idea!

        It's not smaller, they just made the corners more roundier.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @08:28AM (#40995463)

      The other question is the size. The Nexus 7 is just barely small enough to fit in the pocket of a pair of men's pants. It's got a 7" screen and a 16:10 aspect ratio. This is one of the major features of a mini-tablet versus a full-size one: you don't need to carry a backpack or manpurse or whatever in order to have a place to put away the device.

      If Apple is pulling a 7.85" screen with a 4:3 aspect ratio, it's going to be significantly wider. If it doesn't fit in a damn pocket, there's really no point in getting one over a full-size iPad.

      • Agree totally on size
        However.
        I question if there isn't a way to shrink the bezel to near zero.
        With a display that extends more-or-less to edge, with a touch surface extending further, perhaps even round the edge,you can in principle extend the display where the user is not holding it.

        The n7 I am using right now, for example.
        When simply reading, I am holding it by one edge.
        The screen could expand to nearly 8", in principle in that case.
        Even simply ignoring touches that cross the device edge would all

      • by gutnor (872759)
        Think of all the women that see their husband/boyfriend showing in public with 7" tablet in their pant's pockets. Seeing how Apple is fashion conscious, I would not be surprised if they made sure that an hypothetical iPad mini just barely does not fit.
      • How long before Apple start making trousers with pockets just the right size to hold an iDevice? iPants anyone?
      • by samkass (174571)

        The other question is the size. The Nexus 7 is just barely small enough to fit in the pocket of a pair of men's pants. It's got a 7" screen and a 16:10 aspect ratio. This is one of the major features of a mini-tablet versus a full-size one: you don't need to carry a backpack or manpurse or whatever in order to have a place to put away the device.

        If Apple is pulling a 7.85" screen with a 4:3 aspect ratio, it's going to be significantly wider. If it doesn't fit in a damn pocket, there's really no point in getting one over a full-size iPad.

        Um, you didn't read the article, did you? There's an entire section about reducing the bezel size so that the iPad Mini will be the same physical size and weight with a significantly bigger screen.

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        The Nexus 7 is just barely small enough to fit in the pocket of a pair of men's pants.

        Only if you're six foot nine and weigh 400 pounds.

        you don't need to carry a backpack or manpurse or whatever in order to have a place to put away the device.

        My notebook is about the size of a tablet or a hardcover book. I just carry it in my hand.

      • If Apple is pulling a 7.85" screen with a 4:3 aspect ratio, it's going to be significantly wider. If it doesn't fit in a damn pocket, there's really no point in getting one over a full-size iPad.

        That is why I am expecting a 7.0" screen. The folks expecting 7.85" are assuming a screen with the same pixels per inch (PPI) as the original iPhone, 163 PPI. Given that the retina display tech/process lets them get to 326 on the iPhone and 264 on the iPad I expect that an iPad "mini" would use 183 PPI to get to a 7.0" 1024x768 screen. 1024x768 being key for compatibility.

      • by esarjeant (100503)

        What if you have a purse? It's a lot easier to get that into one of those than the current iPad tablet.

      • If it doesn't fit in a damn pocket, there's really no point in getting one over a full-size iPad.

        Two points.

        1) If I can comfortably hold the (rumored) smaller iPad in one hand rather than two, that's a tremendous benefit to me - I can read it on the bus or train, even when it's standing room only. This is not really feasible with the current iPad.

        2) The only supporting argument you made was regarding pants pockets; then, when you got to this final declaration, you broadened it as if it were true of all pockets. It's probable a 7.85" iPad will still fit in most coat pockets, while a full-size iPad will

      • Holding a 10" tablet (or even a Kindle Fire / Playbook - they're heavy) in bed while reading is tough. That's why I own a Kindle3 - if the iPad Mini get the weight down a lot over the iPad3, it will be enough for some folks to sway decisions to buy over other 7" tablets or e-ink ereaders like the Kindle/Nook.

  • by jbolden (176878) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @08:28AM (#40995465) Homepage

    I think it is fair to say we don't know anything. Gruber along with everyone else is just guessing. His point about this not shipping in September but being announced in September is a good one, we don't know enough so this isn't a few weeks from going on sale. October/November sale date seems more likely.

    Here are the resolutions:
    iPad 1/2: 1024 x 768
    iPad 3: 2048 x 1536 (doubled)
    iPhone 4S: 640 x 960
    iPhone 5 (rumor): 640 x 1136
    earlier iPhone: 320 x 480

    I'm going with a bigger version of the iPhone 5 resolution. 1136x640 is close to what the original iPad had, allows for a cheap screen, doesn't require developers to support yet another resolution... But no one really knows.

    The other big question for September is whether there will be a 13" inch retina macbook pro.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by arcite (661011)
      iPad mini will probably sport a 1024x786 display, the smaller dimensions of the screen will make the picture look sharp, and apps will not have to be retooled to work on the resolution. It's the obvious choice.
      • Higher (Score:3, Insightful)

        by phorm (591458)

        Nexus 7 is 1280x800

        With that in mind, I doubt that Apple would go for a lower resolution.

      • by sl149q (1537343)

        Gruber thinks that it will be 1024x786 because Apple has never introduced a new product line with retina. That is saved for a refresh or version 2.

        This may be a fallacy as there simply have been no new products introduced since retina was introduced. Only newer versions of existing products.

        While the picture will be sharp with 1024x786 remember a smaller tablet is meant to be used at a closer distance. So if anything it is more important to get a retina display there.

        I suspect that it will boil down to whet

    • Sorry, but nope; the aspect ratio won't change, even if the resolution does.

      The new iPhone and iPad resolutions were chosen to make old software scale up and new software scale down without leaving ugly black bands down the edges. In addition, all the content in the iTunes store is scaled to fit without leaving your movies with the same aspect ratio as they were intended to be shown.

      The big screw up Android has made, and continues to make, is that there is no uniform resolution and scaling to make content

  • Why not just wait? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chill (34294) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @08:30AM (#40995477) Journal

    Here's a thought. How about just waiting until September 12th to see what they actually release? Maybe take the extra time you'd be wasting on speculation to get some actual work done.

    If everyone took all the time they waste on speculating on future Apple products and the 2012 U.S. Election and actually did some useful work, the economy would recover in a week.

  • by gutnor (872759) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @08:41AM (#40995553)

    Just like anything about Apple, people make up rumor based on what the rest of the market is doing or past behavior. Every year there have been rumor of an iPad mini and before phone with XL screen like the Galaxy were successful there were rumor of iPhone nano.

    Sure I like a good piece of tech gossip, but analysis based on opinions about rumors that will inevitably end up in ePenis fight between Android and Apple fanboys are getting tiring.

    Some people are even actively mocking that state of affair: http://day4.se/how-we-screwed-almost-the-whole-apple-community/ [day4.se]

  • ...for when you need the portability of an iPad with the screen size and ergonomics of an iPod. I've seen very little from the tablet market that isn't a race towards a browsing-and-not-much-else device. I'd be more impressed with multitasking, but I suspect I'm not their target market.
  • Consider how the iPad doesnâ(TM)t look like a blown up iPhone. They share a few similar design elements â" a family resemblance, if you will â" but the proportions are different. The iPad has a thick bezel surrounding all four sides of the display; the iPhone does not. Why? Because you need a place to rest your thumbs while holding an iPad.

    Yeah, you keep drinking the kool aid, dude.

    Besides the different chassis and the lack of voice communicationon, the iPad is a super-sized iPhone.

  • If small tablets are so much of a muchness that all someone can find to speculate on is fiddling little details like the width of the bezel, this is now a commoditised market.

    This whole thing reminds me of the Hindi Ambassador. Basically it was an obsolete car design bought from the UK that had very few real improvements in its long life. Every year all Indian motoring journalists had to write about was minute changes to the tail light shape or the door handles.

    Journalists should stop writing off RIM. Both

    • by Dogtanian (588974)

      This whole thing reminds me of the Hindi Ambassador. Basically it was an obsolete car design bought from the UK

      I assume you meant the Hindustan Ambassador [wikipedia.org]? According to the article, that was based on the *1956* Morris Oxford (which had already been *superseded* in Britain by the end of the 1950s, three years before the Beatles released "Love Me Do"!). The Hindustan version was released in 1958... and they're still making versions of it!.

      My God, that is an *old* car design. I can only assume that they're still making it because they have the machinery and an established production facility that would cost money to

  • Less Thumb Space?? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by asylumx (881307) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @09:33AM (#40996003)
    Less thumb space? You either need your thumb on the front of it to hold it in one hand, or you need it on the side. It's not like you can use a smaller thumb if the device is smaller... Phones are typically held with the thumb and fingers opposing each other on the sides of the device, whereas the larger pad devices are held with the thumb and fingers opposing each other on the front and back of the device.

    This just sounds like an invitation for complaints and more "You're holding it wrong" responses.
    • Well designed objects invite you to hold them properly.

      Construction of the proper Russian Reversal is left as an exercise for the reader.

  • by dell623 (2021586) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @09:47AM (#40996175)

    Assuming all these rumours turn out to be true..

    If Apple finally kill off the iPhone 3GS, it leaves us with three models the iPhone 5, 4S, and 4. For people with loads of cash of course (and people in the US stuck on the absurd $0/$99/$199+$2400 over two years pricing) you just get the latest one. For the rest, have fun making sense of it. The iPhone 5 has a bigger screen. How much does it matter? Will people build their apps targeting the larger screen? Probably not to begin with. So do you lose out by getting an iPhone 4S? Then why not get the iPhone 4? Oh wait, no Siri or new Maps or new iPhoto. So the 4S has those? Yes. But so does the 5? Yup. So will the 4S not get the next cool thing Apple introduce? Maybe. Will they work better on the bigger screen? Don't know. Won't it be better to just get the smaller screen until developers actually get around to building apps for the larger screen?

    It gets even more fun with the iPads. Do you buy an iPad 2 or an iPad mini? The former isn't getting the new maps or Siri, while the latter probably will. But the iPad 2 has a bigger screen. But the Mini screen will look better even at the same resolution as the iPad 2. So wait, doesn't that mean everything - the buttons controls etc carefully designed on apps for the big iPad will be shrunk on the Mini, making it much less convenient to use? Will the Mini get Siri? Yes - perfect, why spend loads more on a bigger less portable iPad or a far more expensive iPhone to get Siri. No - doesn't make logical sense, a new product that's already crippled.

    Then we have the iPod touch, which is supposed to get an update. It should remain at $199 or so. Will it get Siri? Probably not, it's too cheap. So what exactly is the point of it?

    I am not saying Apple can't find their way around it. But if they've given into giving their customers choice instead of saying that their devices are the perfect size, it's going to bring inevitable issues. Just like the profit focused planned obsolescence approach which artificially limits features like Siri and iOS Maps. There will have to be some degree of compromise on the core Apple values of apps just working and looking the same on every Apple device. We would already be looking at 4-5 different screen sizes and resolutions that developers will have to think about.

    • All of your questions have already been answered in previous analyses. To quickly go through them:

      1) The height difference of a rumored iPhone 5 shouldn't make much of a difference, since developers already have to code for multiple heights, given that the statusbar at the top of the screen can already change in size, and they need to be able to accommodate those sizes. For most apps (though admittedly not all), minimal changes will be necessary. And if the launches of the iPad and retina displays are any i

      • by dell623 (2021586)

        It's not that simple. I didn't say it's hard for developers to support different resolutions. I am saying that from the release of the iPhone 5, people are going to have two different experiences for the same app based on whether you're using a 4/4s (around 100 million sold?) or the new iPhone. There's no getting away from it. It's not necessarily a bad thing, desktop operating systems have always catered for it. But it represents a fundamental compromise for the tightly controlled iOS experience, there is

        • I am saying that from the release of the iPhone 5, people are going to have two different experiences for the same app based on whether you're using a 4/4s (around 100 million sold?) or the new iPhone. There's no getting away from it.

          I agree. Where I disagree is in the thought that it matters or that it's a compromise. The upgrade from non-retina to retina had the exact same issues, as did the introduction of the iPad (which at launch could only run apps designed for it or iPhone apps at 2x zoom), yet developers quickly updated their apps. You're suggesting that upgrade was different, but I suggest it really isn't, since developers still need to update their apps to work with the change, and a roughly comparable amount of effort will be

  • From TFA: "7.85 inches diagonally, 1024×768 pixels at 163 PPI — the same pixels-per-inch density as the pre-retina iPhones and iPod Touch."

    IE next year's model will have a better display. Wait and buy then if this is a product that interests you.

    • Nope, it's simply the pixel count of the first iPad with smaller pixels. The idea being that developers can target the device with the same layout as previous generations.

  • I can see where there are probably not an insignificant number of people who might want to use one as a phone.

  • After all where is it going to fit price wise? It can't be less than an Ipod Touch, and it certainly can't be more than the Ipad 2, w hich has the advantage of a better screen size. If I was going to buy a 7 inch tablet, why not a 9 for the same price or cheaper? And given that the Android tablet makers are set to savage each other down pricewise, I can't see where Apple would make a profit in this market.

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