Photos of an iPad Mini engineering sample provide hints at the iPad Mini design

It is all but confirmed that Apple will release an iPad Mini this year.

The photos comes from leaked supply chain reports, a trusted source who also provided iPhone 5 engineering sample photos.

The images, unveiled exclusively to Gotta Be Mobile denote the iPad Mini will be ultra-thin, with a display of about 7.85 inches in diameter – about two-thirds that of the current iPad.

The images show an early design sample – a plastic mold likely to be used to hone the production process and test accessories. This would be the first significant update to the iPad design since Apple introduced it in 2010.

The design hints at twin speakers on either side of the newly-designed dock connector, where current iPads have only one speaker. The speaker placement could show how Apple plans to change the iPad 3rd generation for a rumoured fall refresh. The current iPad speakers are almost rear-facing and easy to cover while holding. the iPad Mini will have speakers to surround the smaller dock connector and flattening the edge.

A screen of 7.85 inches places the iPad Mini in direct competition with the Nexus 7 – Google’s in-house tablet which ships to the UK within the next two weeks. Currently, the Nexus 7 sell at low price of £159 for relatively high-end equipment, it will be interesting to see if Apple sticks with its premium pricing, or for the first time competes on price. As comparison, Google’s Nexus 7 tablet has a width of 120mm which means that the iPad Mini, if our calculations are close, might be around 23.67mm wider than the Nexus 7. The Nexus 7 tablet measures in at 198.5mm high which means that the iPad Mini may be a little taller than Google’s 7-inch tablet.

There are also rumours that point to the iPad Mini as having a IGZO display from Sharp. IGZO stands for indium gallium zinc oxide and it should allow Apple to offer an iPad with a thinner screen featuring better brightness. Sharp’s IGZO displays also apparently can handle 330 ppi which means that the display could very well be a Retina Display as has been previously rumoured.

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  3. iPad HD will be announced, not iPad 3
  4. It’s just new iPad!
  5. Apple iPad 3 to be announced on March 7th?

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