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Photos of 'iPad mini' body stir rumor pot

Is Steve Jobs' bête noire ready for launch?

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Photos have surfaced of what's said to be the metal back of Apple's oft-rumored "iPad mini" – and, yes, despite what the late Steve Jobs said about the deficiencies of small-sized fondleslabs, it's of the about-seven-inch variety.

The photos appear in an article on the Chinese-language website tech.163.com that credits its Beijing-based parent company NetEase as the source – an outfit with a $6.5bn market cap, according to MarketWatch.

We note that provenance only to point out that tech.163.com is not some fly-by-night site run by a couple of Middle Kingdom fanbois, but instead is part of a larger info, entertainment, and advertising conglomerate.

Saying that the photos came from "知情人士" – which can be variously translated as "informed sources", "insiders", "people in the know", or some such – the website notes that the connector slot on the case is of a size that would be appropriate for the 9-pin connector that has been widely rumored to replace the familiar 30-pin connector that's been standard for iDevices since the third-generation iPod's appearance in April 2003.

Also of interest are a circular punch-out for a camera in one corner, cut-outs for volume and toggle controls, dual bottom-mounted speakers, and the lack of a cut-out for a SIM slot – but take a look at the photos yourself, and see what you can see:

'iPad mini' case, from tech.163.com
'iPad mini' case, from tech.163.com
'iPad mini' case, from tech.163.com
'iPad mini' case, from tech.163.com

(all photos from tech.163.com)

If these photos are actually of the backplane of a forthcoming iPad mini and not merely of an engineering sample – or, for that matter, 知情人士 or no 知情人士, a hoax – the upcoming holiday season might bring some good news not only to current iPad owners who've expressed a desire for a different-sized fondleslab, but also to Apple investors worried about competition from Amazon's just-announced Kindle Fire HD tablets, which are available in both 7-inch and 8.9-inch models.

No matter what Steve Jobs might have thought. ®

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