A new report out of Japanese Apple blog Mac Otakara [Google Translate] suggests that a refresh of the iPad Mini line could be hitting mid-cycle, bringing a beefier processor and faster Wi-Fi to a fourth-generation iPad mini.
Considering that the iPad Mini 3 was only a slight refresh on its predecessor, packing the same processing speed and power and essentially adding only Touch ID and a gold color option into the mix, many have hoped the fourth generation version of the device would be a more substantial update than last year's. Mac Otakara's report states that the update would replace the iPad Mini 3's current A7 processor and 802.11n Wi-Fi with an A8 CPU and 802.11ac Wi-Fi.
Mac Otakara tells MacRumors, however, that there is some uncertainty with this rumor, and Mac Otakara is not convinced it is accurate.
A short product cycle for an iPad would not be unprecedented, as the 9.7-inch iPad saw a seven-month interval in its third-generation, with the fourth-generation model shifting the iPad update cycle from the early part of the year to the late part and allowing Apple to quickly make the transition to the Lightning connector across its iOS device lineup.
Timing on a potential mid-cycle refresh for the iPad mini is not entirely clear, but the obvious candidate in the near-term is Apple's "Spring Forward" event this coming Monday, March 9. Mac Otakara also says Apple has been pushing out iPad and notebook shipping estimates for resellers to 2-3 weeks, perhaps hinting at some imminent lineup changes.
Apple reportedly has a MacBook Air refresh in the works and shipping estimates for the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro have also slipped today, fueling rumors of updates at Monday's event. The company will, however, most likely dedicate much of the show to details on the Apple Watch, so it is unclear how many other updates Apple will want to include in the event.