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iPad 5, Retina iPad mini with 'A7X' chip home for the holidays – report

Tim Cook's China outreach leading to broader product line, longer life for older slabs

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Apple is readying its fifth-generation iPad for launch and is moving up the debut of its second-generation iPad mini – which will have a Retina display and will be powered by an upgraded processor – from next year to the fourth quarter of this year, if a new report by a longtime Apple-watcher is correct.

"Since iPad mini 2 will feature better resolution with retina display, we think its [processor] will have the same grade as iPad 5 – the A7X," KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo wrote in a research note, MacRumors reports. "But we now believe that iPad mini 2 may be pulled in for launching in late 2013."

As we've noted before, Kuo has a reasonably decent record when predicting Apple's moves, so his research notes carry a bit more credence than most product prognosticators, pundits, predictors, prophets, and pontificators.

If Kuo's production estimates are correct, however, there will be far more iPad 5s available to holiday shoppers than second-gen iPad minis. In fact, Kuo's estimates for the li'l fellow are so low for the final quarter of this year that earlier predictions (later recanted) of a 2014 launch may, indeed, be correct.

iPad and iPad mini shipment projections for 2013, by quarter

According to Ming-Chi Kuo, the fourth-gen iPad will be no more in the fourth quarter of this year,
but the second-generation model will live on

What is interesting, however, is Kuo's reasoning as to why Apple is aiming for a fourth-quarter launch of a Retina display iPad mini, despite the small number of units. "Although the model's availability is small due to production issues," he writes, "if iPad mini 2 gets an introduction and launch this year, it should be able to impact consumers and freeze their budget for other brand vendors' tablets."

In other words, Apple CEO Tim Cook is feeling the heat of competition from Android-based tablets – and possibly even Windows 8 fondleslabs and "2-in-1s" – and is cracking the whip on Apple's Asian parts suppliers and product assemblers in an effort to preempt defections into the enemy camp. Or camps.

If Kuo is correct about the A7X processor – which is presumably an iPad Retina display–enabled upgrade to the A7 chip he has predicted will power the iPhone 5S rumored to make its debut next Tuesday – it will be quite a step up from the current iPad mini, which is powered by an A5.

But don't feel sorry for the A6. Kuo is also of the opinion that there will be another iPad mini launched early next year, one that won't have a Retina display and will be aimed at the budget market, as is the oft-rumored, plastic-cased, multicolored, lower-priced, won't-come-in-gold iPhone 5C.

Regarding the iPad mini's big brother, Kuo also predicts that the fifth-generation iPad will include TDD-LTE wireless tech, which would make it compatible with China Mobile's network, which is currently running trials of that high-speed, spectrum-efficient broadband service that will "further be commercially operated soon."

As of the end of July, China Mobile had 745 million subscribers, each of whom were likely on Tim Cook's mind when he visited that company's chairman Xi Guohua in Beijing last month, perhaps to discuss an iPhone 5S or 5C that will be compatible with China Mobile's existing TD-SCDMA network, as well as an upcoming TDD-LTE iPad. ®

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