15 Oct 2012

Rumour Roundup – Nexus 4 and iPad Mini

The geekier parts of the web have gone abuzz with rumors of the mythical mini iPad and the all-powerful Nexus 4. Daily we are seeing a new bunch of reports, photos, speculations, hopes and fears. Here is a round-up of what the rumor mill has made of these two devices till now.

iPad Mini:

The Amazon Kindle Fire, Google Nexus 7 and Nook HD have stolen the budget tablet show, by launching some very impressive tablets. High specs, at minimal cost. It has certainly stolen a small share of the iPad market (a very small hare). It now looks like that Apple may well want a bite of the, well, apple. Back in 2010, former Apple CEO Steve Jobs said that smaller screened tablets were not "sufficient to create great tablet apps" and would be "dead on arrival", so rumours suggesting a new iPad mini is in the works reveals a potentially new direction for the firm in its post-Jobs era.

There's not even an official sign from Apple that the iPad Mini/iPad Nano is in the works, so a release date for the tablet is even more up in the air. However, if the rumours turn out to be true, we can expect Apple to start rolling out the iPad Mini very soon after an extraordinarily over-hyped launch event. Most rumours suggest it's likely to happen well before Christmas, with the latest leaks pointing to a October 23 iPad Mini launch event (stealing the limelight from the lauch of Microsoft Surface?), with a release date potentially on October 26. This news comes from "people familiar with Apple's plans". Hmm, let’s wait and see if apple starts sending out invitees in the coming week.

Apple is known for its extravagant products, and even more extravagant prices. But the iPad Mini may herald a new era for those who long for an Apple device, but cannot churn out the money required to do so. I do not expect it to land at $200 and go head to head with Nexus or the Kindle Fire. If the rumours are true, expect the base model price (8GB, Wi-Fi only) to come at around $250. This price is quite high compared to the current Android dominated budget tablet segment, but I always expect Apple to charge a little higher because, well its Apple! Apple is expected to offer an 8, 16, 32 and 64GB iPad mini, both in Wi-Fi and cellular. Other sources say that the iPad mini will only have Wi-Fi models with no cellular support. Apple’s sheer strength in number of selections, may be too overpowering for the competition to handle.   

At the start of March, Digitimes reported that the new iPad Mini would actually come with a 7.85-inch display – a tad bigger than the 7-inch screen found on the Amazon Kindle Fire and Google Nexus 7. It is expected to have the same resolution as the original iPad and iPad 2, at 1,024 x 768 – meaning developers wouldn't have to tweak their apps. Information about the other specs is still very sketchy.

Well, I’m still unsure whether Apple will go down the iPad Mini route. But the budget tablet market is one that is definitely growing, and one that Apple isn't currently part of, so it won't be too much of a surprise if the firm does decide to go down this route. We'd love to see a new iPad Mini come to market, since it would certainly give Amazon and Co a run for their money.

Update: Apple has sent an invitation for a media event on 23 October.

Nexus 4:
To say we’ve had a plethora of rumors and leaks surrounding the LG Nexus 4 (aka Optimus G Nexus) would be a major understatement. How about to say that this is the most hyped and thoroughly-leaked Android phone since the Samsung Galaxy S3? We've already seen LG's upcoming Nexus 4 photographed from every angle imaginable, and now someone's gone and reviewed it, before it's even been announced. Talk about jumping the gun. The device, if launched maybe called the LG Nexus 4 or the LG Optimus Nexus or maybe something else entirely.

The device looks like it is based on the Optimus G but doesn’t look the same. All the leaks point to a 4.7 inch screen, with a 1280 x 768 True-HD IPS screen. The device is expected to run on a Quad Core Snapdragon S4 processor with 2GB RAM. It is expected to have a 8GB model (maybe a 16GB too) with no microSD slot (seriously Google, why you hate giving customers some expandable memory?). Some rumours report that the Nexus 4 will have inbuilt wireless charging.

It has become a ritual for Google to launch a new OS, with the launch of every Nexus device.  Most reports point to a launch of Android 4.2 (a new version of Jelly Bean rather than Android Key Lime Pie.). The updated version is expected to be similar to Jellybean (v4.1) with implementation of Project Roadrunner (upgrade from Project Butter) and some bug fixes. This is one part of the rumour mill that I find very hard to digest. We got our hands on the v.4.1 Jellybean less than a year ago, Google coming out with a new OS within month’s looks like a very bad strategy to me. A part of me still believes that the Nexus 4 will come out with only Android 4.1.2 (which was made available last week). A launch of v4.2 will cause further fragmentation in the Android Market. The latest stats by Google point that only 1.2% of the android devices. Gingerbread (an OS that is nearly 2 years old) is still the top Android platform, and is running on nearly 57.2 percent devices. Releasing a new OS will cause more problems for the companies looking to upgrade their flagship models (OneX, S3, Etc)

All the current reports point to a October 29 launch. If true, we will soon know all there is to know about this all powerful Nexus device.

An interesting bit of rumours point that from now on Google will let any manufacturer release devices as part of the Nexus program. All they'll have to do is stick to strict standards laid down by Google. The tip came from "a regular source who has provided accurate information in the past" but wishes to remain anonymous, according to Android and Me. In order to qualify as part of the Nexus family, companies will have to make devices that use stock Android and 64MB of secure memory for faster media streaming. Though they can add custom UI skins as part of a new "customisation centre" Google will introduce. This looks like a great move as this will ensure faster upgrades in the future.

As always these rumours should be taken with a pinch of salt. If they turn out to be true (which most probably, they will) we will have two top end devices releasing this November, not to forget the launch of Windows 8, Microsoft Surface and a plethora of Windows 8 phones. I will seriously advice all those in the market for a new phone/tablet, hold on till the start of the holiday season. Exciting times ahead…

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