Apple is testing a new iPad mini that includes a faster processor but not a Retina display, according to references in the iOS 7 SDK sent to us by a developer.
The references were located inside of a hidden file that lists all supported iOS 7 devices, and the information has been corroborated with details found within the iOS 7 beta operating system itself…
iPad Air 2
According to the provided information, Apple is considering three new iPad mini models: iPad “2,8,” iPad “2,9,” and iPad “2,10.” The respective code names for the devices are J75, J76, and J77. This points to one WiFi-only model and two cellular-compatible models (just like the current iPad minis).
The internal nomenclature for these iPads follows the current iPad minis, which are iPad “2,5,” iPad “2,6,” and iPad “2,7.”
As for what these new iPad minis will feature, the references state that the devices include the “s5l8950x” processor. This is the same A6 system-on-a-chip inside of Apple’s iPhone 5, and this would offer significant speed improvements for the iPad mini compared to the current A5-based model. The A6 chip will mean that users could move around the operating system at a quicker pace, load up movies more quickly, and see better performance and frame-rates while playing games.
From the references, we can also infer that this potential iPad mini model will lack a Retina display. The versions of these references for Apple’s Retina display devices, such as the iPhone 5 and fourth-generation iPad, include hooks to images at a “@2x” mode. “@2x” is how developers reference app artwork that is built for a Retina display device. However, these new iPad minis lack the “@2x” hook, including only references to non-Retina images. Perhaps corroborating this is that the rumored Retina display iPad mini codename is “J85,” while the iPad mini model we have learned about is “J75.”
From the references, which were spotted and submitted by developer Nick Frey, we can also understand that these newer iPad mini models include the same cellular technologies and baseband chip as the current iPad minis.
While it appears, based on these references, that Apple is considering and testing a new iPad mini with a spec-bump and no Retina display, we cannot confirm that Apple will actually ship this device as a product.
Several rumors have pointed to Apple preparing a new version of the iPad mini with a Retina display for 2014, so perhaps the aforementioned faster model is an update to hold consumers until the higher-resolution version debuts. Other possibilities include these new iPad models remaining as an internal-only variant or a silent update (perhaps when the iPad minis are repackaged with iOS 7 marketing materials in the fall?).