[UPDATE 1X] Apple's 9.7" (Retina) iPad MUST slim down
Apple's 9.7" Retina iPad is just huge and clunky compared to the small 7.9" iPad mini and I think that Apple has made a much better, more interesting product at a much lower price.
If you think about it these are the main differences between the iPad mini and the iPad 4:
- Dimensions (iPad mini is much smaller, much thinner and much lighter)
- Design (iPad mini's got a newer design, that can be either positive or negative) with chamfered edge
- Stereo speakers
- Retina display
- A6X chip
The iPad 2 is, in my opinion, not even a choice anymore because you'll be stuck with the old 30-pins dock connector, no FaceTime HD, no decent iSight camera, slower Wi-Fi, no LTE model and probably on its way out.
So, we've got five main differences between a $499 iPad and a $329 iPad mini. The most important difference is, of course, the Retina display. It's beautiful and I can't wait to see even higher pixel densities in the future. In fact, the display is, arguably, the most important component of a tablet. Almost everything you do with your tablet, involves the display.
The second advantage of the iPad 4 is the A6X chip. It's definitely future-proof and the CPU is blazing-fast, but the GPU isn't really that special. Yes, it is four times as powerful as the A5 chip in the iPad mini, but it also needs to run four times as many pixels so you'll only see performance improvements in the low- to middle-class games.
The iPad mini, on the other hand, has got a brand new design and feels modern and up-to-date. You might not like the design, but it at least feels fresh and new. It's not the old iPad 2 design we've had since early 2011. The iPad mini's also got stereo speakers and is much, much smaller.
For a regular customer, an iPad mini is more interesting
As I said, I absolutely love the Retina display but are customers really willing to pay an extra $170 just for a snappier processor and a better display? While at the same time, they feel like the iPad mini isn't slow at all and the display isn't actually that bad? I mean, I still hear people saying that they like the display of an iPad 1 or iPad 2 (that's, maybe, because they aren't used to high pixel dense displays).
And let's not forget: this $499 iPad is much, much heavier compared to the iPad mini. Over two times heavier. And it's also much thicker and doesn't have this new design with this chamfered edge. And it's thicker. And it's got these huge bezels.
There's also this $399 iPad. While I personally wouldn't go for an iPad 2 anymore, there are enough people who think: "Hmm, I want an iPad but I don't want a small display... if I pony up another $70 I'll get an iPad with this big 9.7-inch display."
The 9.7" $499 iPad must slim down
In order to stay interesting for customers, the bigger 9.7" iPads must slim down. Shave some millimetres of the top and bottom bezel (in portrait mode). These two bezels are, peculiarly, bigger than the bezels on the left and the right. Heck, they could even slim down the bezels on the left and right side: just like they did on an iPad mini and let the software do the rest.
The device must also become thinner. It must at least achieve the thinnes the iPad 2 has, but preferably go below it. Finally, the device must become lighter. It must go below the 600 grams.
In the end, you get a much more attracting device. It's got smaller bezels, and thus making the over-all size much smaller, while retaining a beautiful 9.7" Retina display. It's lighter and thinner, and in combination with a new design, it feels fresh, up-to-date and very "2012"/"2013"
So, three iPads ($329, $399, $499): how will Apple advertise?
My guess is that they'll talk about two iPads:
- The $329 iPad mini
- The $399 9.7" iPad
And that they'll talk about some sort of an "iPad Pro".
They'll see: "Hey, buy an iPad. Here we've got a beautiful iPad mini for just $329." The customer responds, "But I want a bigger display..." "Oh, don't worry. We've also got a $399 9.7" iPad. It's almost identical to the iPad mini: the main difference is the bigger display, and it only costs an extra $70", says Apple.
So I think that's how they'll market the iPad. Get the $329-variant if you want small and cheap. Get the $399 variant if you want a 'cheap' iPad but still with a 9.7" display.
They'll also have the "iPad Pro" and that's the $499 iPad. The newest model. The latest and greatest. It's for Apple fans. It's for the tech geeks who want the latest and greatest. It's the model that regular customers don't really care about, because it's too expensive.
So, uhm, that's my rage in 939 words.
PS. Oh, and on a side note. Apple should really offer more capacity. Apps are becoming bigger and bigger almost every month. Games are getting more advanced. The base models should start at 32 GB and end at 128 GB (or even 96 GB (1x64GB storage + 1x32 GB storage), if 128 GB is too expensive).
Or they could simply update iOS and make sure that an iPad 3/4 user, doesn't download low-res images meant for iPad 1/2/mini. And that when you download on a Retina iPad, it doesn't download stuff and images for and the non-retina iPhones and the iPhone 4/4S and the iPhone 5 (16:9 display) and the iPad 1/2/mini.
Note: I made a typo: the $399 model should have said "Fourth Generation (late 2012)" instead of 2011.
While most reactions on this thread have been generally 'conservative', it seems like Apple is indeed heading this way. Three weeks after I created this topic, the reliable Macotakara posted an article about the fifth-generation iPad being thinner and lighter, and getting a similar design as the iPad mini.
Recently, I bumped into some renders by Martin Hajek on Flickr. Below, you'll find a few of the renders. Go here tfor his Flickr album where you can find 9 renders. Below, you'll find the third-generation iPad - which, in design, is identical to the fourth-generation iPad except for the dock connector - compared to the rumoured fifth-generation iPad.