Had you heard? Apple’s got a ‘little’ event going on at the newly-decorated California Theatre tomorrow where they will FINALLY showcase the iPad Mini, new Mac Minis, a Retina 13-inch MacBook Pro as well as software like iBooks 3.0 and iTunes 11.
First, the bad news: We’ve heard that the some of the iMacs that we found earlier have been pushed so far back that they might not warrant inclusion at the event this week. That doesn’t mean they are cancelled but because there have been some issues with the products and the including them is a “gameday decision”. We’re obviously hoping they make the docket.
And now the good news:
The likely star of the event will be the iPad Mini. The 7.85-inch 4:3 screen will be the focus of the attention but the $329 starting price that we revealed will draw a lot of attention. We expect the same 1024×768 resolution as the iPad 2 but, at $329, Apple could probably squeeze a Retina Display with the same PPI as the iPhone 4+ on it. As for internal specs, that $329 price point means that Apple doesn’t have to skimp on specs. Expect a very fast A5X or A6 (perhaps built on a smaller die).
We also expect this to be a centerpiece for education initiatives that will be showcased at the event. The thin, lightweight design, huge iPad apps and iBooks libraries and other features will make this thing a no-brainer for students. It wouldn’t hurt Apple’s cause to have some big name universities signed up for the launch. We’ve already heard about big school discounts being planned as well as some new cases.
We’ve also seen prices for and shells of a third generation iPad with Lightning adapter instead of the 30-pin adapter. We don’t know all of the details but can speculate that Apple could take the refreshing opportunity to upgrade the LTE chip to a lower power version and could even upgrade to a thinner screen and battery, thereby making the new iPad as thin as the iPad 2, if not thinner. A smaller SoC die could also cool things off and require smaller batteries.
Most other things will be the same and we feel Apple would hesitate from something outlandish like calling it the ‘iPad 4’ if for nothing else than pissing off its loyal customers who bought a new iPad just 6 months ago. Prices will remain the same and start at $499US.
13-inch Retina MacBook Pro:
Another major product to be unveiled at tomorrow’s event is the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display that we told you about earlier this month. The update is expected to mirror the 15-inch Retina model introduced in June with a thinner and lighter enclosure, two configurations with different processor and storage options, and is expected to be available to purchase shortly after tomorrow morning’s unveiling. Our sources also indicated that, like the 15-inch MacBook lineup following the Retina model’s introduction, Apple will keep the current non-Retina version of the 13-inch MacBook Pro at current prices. The 13-inch Retina Macbook Pro will of course be priced slightly higher than the current 13-inch lineup. We have also received pricing details for the device, with the base model coming in at $1,699 and the higher spec model at $200-$300 more.
A refreshed Mac mini lineup is also likely to make an appearance tomorrow. We’re not sure how much of a focus the the minis will be with the other big announcements, but there is a possibility they will be mentioned alongside the education announcements that many expect. We do, however, have details on the upgraded models. The new Mac minis will likely keep similar pricing, starting at $599, of the current models, but will also receive RAM upgrades allowing for up to 16GB. Apple will offer two configurations for the new Mac minis and also keep a third OS X server model. Other possibilities include updated chipsets and USB 3.0.
As noted above, at least some of the new iMacs we told you about previously might be seeing a bit of a delay, but it’s unclear what that means for their presence tomorrow. We know Apple has two refreshed models for the current 21-inch and 27-inch variants, but we have also heard at least some varieties of the new models will not be ready to ship directly after launch. As for what you can expect in the upgraded iMacs, we have discovered upgraded RAM options allowing for 2 x 8GB of RAM, which would allow for up to 32GB across the iMac’s 4 slots. Our sources expect to see similar pricing to the current iMacs (starting at $1199), with slightly cheaper pricing for some countries on the higher spec models.
While rumors that we will see iTunes 11 release tomorrow aren’t too shocking given Apple announced an October release date back in September, there is a possibility Apple has some software related announcements in store. With iPad mini’s $329 price point and Tim Cook’s promise to be aggressive at getting iPads into schools, it’s likely we will see an education focus during the presentation. A few reports have heard the same, and we recently saw “iBooks 3.0” listed for a book on iTunes. We wouldn’t be shocked to see enhancements to iBooks and or apps/textbooks designed specifically for the 7-inch display demoed by Apple execs. The iBookstore today became available in 17 more countries, a fact that probably won’t go unnoticed tomorrow.
Other small stuff:
There are at least two more iOS cables Apple will release tomorrow. We believe that these could be VGA/HDMI video adapters, new camera kits or they could be docking connectors (though Schiller said no iPhone 5 docks). We’ll likely know before the event starts.
Apple will likely announce and/or release iOS 6.01 with various bugfixes and enhancements.
It is also interesting to note that Yerba Buena, where Apple often holds its events, is available for tomorrow’s event. If so, it would indicate that Apple chose the California Theatre – a movie theater – for its size or other features. That might make for an interesting show.
We will have an event liveblog happening as well as some other fun stuff going on. Seth will be live on CNBC’s Squawk Box at around 11:40am ET.
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