Preview at WWDC likely in June, followed by September launch.
Apple's iPad Mini: Thinner, Lighter and Narrower
The first report comes from 9to5 Mac, which claims that the iPad mini will "look like a big iPod touch", with narrower bezels along the sides of the device paired with more traditional, thicker bezels at the top and bottom.
This iPod touch-like design makes a lot of sense for a number of reasons. For one, when compared to the Nexus 7 (and Kindle Fire, Galaxy Tab 7, RIM Playbook, etc.), this would give the iPad mini a similar, “purse-able,” and “big pocket-able” form factor but with a larger 4:3 display. The lack of a bezel on the sides will make it easier to hold too.The report goes on to speculate that the iPad mini will offer at least a front-facing camera and perhaps LTE connectivity on some models, and a lack of significant part leaks suggests that the device may not be ready to begin shipping for several more months.
The second report comes from iMore, which backs up the earlier report and offers its own thoughts on the iPad mini's design, as well as a rendering of the rumored device.
Based on several sources, I believe that design to be an accurate representation of what the iPad mini will look like. In addition, it's my understanding that it will be the exact same thinness as the iPod touch, which is substantially thinner than the 9.7-inch iPad. The quick mockup [below] shows what I believe are accurate proportions for the iPad mini compared to the 9.7-inch iPad and the current generation iPod touch 4.
Finally, Daring Fireball's John Gruber shares his thoughts on the device, including his belief that some of the leaked rear shell photos may indeed be genuine given the similarities seen among several independent leaks. Gruber goes on to argue in support of the narrower side bezels, noting that with the device falling in between the full-size iPad and the iPod touch its design is likely to similarly fall somewhere between the two existing devices.
The iPad 3 — the whole device, not just the display — measures 241.2 × 185.7 mm. Divide and that comes out to roughly 1.3, which is very close to the aspect ratio of the iPad display (1.333…). [...]Gruber goes on to perform some calculations estimating the size of the iPad mini at roughly 200 x 135 mm, only slightly larger than Google's Nexus 7 despite having a screen 0.85 inches larger diagonally, a feat made possible by the narrow side bezels on the iPad mini.
That’s not true for the iPhone and iPod Touch. The iPhone 4S is 115.2 × 58.6 mm; divide and you get roughly 1.97 — far different proportions than the 1.5 (3:2) aspect ratio of the display. Again, just look at it.
Should not the iPad Mini fall somewhere in between?
But with a thickness in line with the iPod touch, the iPad mini would be one-third thinner than the Nexus 7 and thus encompass roughly one-third less volume and one-third less weight. Comparing this to the Nexus 7's weight of 340 grams, Gruber suggests that the iPad mini could weigh just 265 grams, marking a major weight savings over the full-size iPad while still retaining a reasonable display size.
Details on Apple's release plans for the iPad mini remain up in the air, but iMore appears to be standing by its earlier claim that the device will be introduced at Apple's iPhone media event reportedly set for September 12. Unlike the next-generation iPhone, it will likely be a fair amount of time before the iPad mini actually launches, with the company likely to begin ramping production to achieve availability just in time for the holiday shopping season.