For Apple fans, it looks like it's time to get (mini) excited.
Apple's suppliers have started final production on the so-called "iPad Mini" for an unveiling some time this month, according to a new report from the Wall Street Journal.
As previously rumored, the WSJ says that the smaller iPad -- which the Internet has taken to referring to as the "iPad Mini" for shorthand -- will be cheaper than the $499 iPad, in order to combat the likes of Google's $199 Nexus 7 and the new $199 Kindle Fire HD. Previous predictions have put it in the $250-$350 range.
The Journal also reiterates the previous rumors that the screen on the iPad Mini will measure 7.85-inches diagonally and will be of a lower resolution than the Retina display on the new iPad.
The Wall Street Journal isn't the first to report that the iPad Mini had begun mass production. The hit-or-miss Japanese Apple blog Macotakara claimed the same in an article published on Tuesday. The WSJ, however, has close ties to Apple (It won a coveted sit-down with CEO Tim Cook following the unveiling of OS X Mountain Lion, remember), and its reports have often offered reliable glimpses at future Apple products.
Backing up this most recent report, the WSJ-affiliated blog AllThingsD had previously "confirmed" that an iPad Mini would debut at a press event in October, so that it would not have to share the stage with the iPhone 5 at Apple's September event. The author of that piece, John Paczkowski, is also read as an accurate predictor of Apple product releases.
All of which is to say: We'll be very surprised if we don't see an iPad Mini by the end of October.
Some observers have cast doubt on whether the timing is right for Apple to release another product, just a month after putting out the iPhone 5. Apple generally waits at least three months between product releases, so as to not over-saturate the market, or wear out the public with its all-consuming media events. And, too, the company is riding a wave of negative PR and skepticism following the face-plant of its much-hyped iOS 6 Maps.
Perhaps, though, an iPad Mini could change the narrative. And, too, with the new Kindle Fires and NOOK HDs coming soon at lower price points than the $500 iPad, Apple is surely eager to introduce a cheaper tablet as soon as it can before the holiday rush (it's coming soon, people!) so that it can lock new tablet-buyers into the iOS ecosystem.
Strap on your seat belts, folks: Another autumn Apple event is looking more and more likely.
The Maps App Is A Mess
If you've been following any coverage of the new iPhone, you've heard that iPhone 5 users (or any iDevice users who have updated their gadgets to iOS 6) are complaining rather loudly about how terrible the Apple Maps app is. The new navigation app, which has replaced Google Maps in new versions of iOS, has been seen to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/20/apple-map-fails-ios-6-maps_n_1901599.html">mislabel cities</a>, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bianca-bosker/apple-ios-6-maps-debacle_b_1900211.html">fail to locate adresses</a> and other problems. Perhaps worst of all (for city-dwellers, at least) the new Maps app <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/19/ios-6-maps-no-transit-directions-apple_n_1896684.html">doesn't provide transit directions</a>, which many became dependent upon with Google Maps.
It's TOO Thin And Light
Given that the new iPhone is touted as Apple's "lightest iPhone ever," the company must be surprised to hear people complaining that it's <em>too</em> light, an issue that <a href="http://gizmodo.com/5945662/the-weirdest-thing-people-hate-about-the-iphone-5">Gizmodo has noticed users raising on Twitter</a>. "It's following Samsung in the flimsy-feel department," <a href="https://twitter.com/befroggled">writes @befroggled</a>. "Feels like a toy," <a href="https://twitter.com/HERSEYSDARK">tweeted @HERSEYSDARK</a>. At 112 grams, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/12/iphone-5-features_n_1877637.html?utm_hp_ref=apple-september-event">the iPhone 5 is 20 percent lighter</a> than the previous generation, the iPhone 4S.
The Updated Siri Is Worse Than Your Local Weatherman
The new Siri for iOS 6 is sometimes confusing cities with the same name but in different states. (<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/22/apple-maps-ios-6_n_1906005.html">A similar problem occurs in the Apple Maps app</a>.) For example, <a href="http://www.macrumors.com/2012/09/24/siri-delivering-wrong-weather-forecasts-for-common-city-names/">MacRumors noticed</a> that asking for the weather in New York City yields temperatures and forecasts for New York, Texas. Siri is similarly mixing up the St. Louises in Missouri and Georgia and the Carrolltons in Texas and Indiana.
Battery Life Seems Sub-Par For Some
Every new iPhone brings <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/17/iphone-4s-problems-issues-complaints_n_1015538.html#slide=413381">complaints about battery life</a>. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/17/iphone-4s-problems-issues-complaints_n_1015538.html#slide=413381">(Read more about about the iPhone 4S's battery weakness here.)</a> "horrible battery life, i am disgusted," <a href="https://discussions.apple.com/thread/4331259?start=0&tstart=0">mht83193 wrote on an Apple discussion thread</a>. He describes losing 40 percent of his fully-charged iPhone battery in one hour. Are people's iPhone batteries just be draining faster because of overuse, a new energy-sucking app or a glitch in iOS 6? During the key presentation on the iPhone 5, Apple claimed <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/12/iphone-5-features_n_1877637.html">the iPhone 5 got 225 hours of battery life while on standby</a>, compared to 200 for the iPhone 4S. If you're having battery life issues with the iPhone 5, we recommend <a href="http://www.imore.com/how-fix-battery-life-problems-ios-6-or-iphone-5">reading the blog iMore's troubleshooting guide</a>.
It 'Leaks' Light
While white iPhone 5s are apparently not as easy to scuff as the black models, the white models have another problem of their own: A a tiny amount of light leaks out of the top right corner of the device's screen. The light leak can be see when they screen is activated in a dark room, <a href="http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1450376">according to complaints at MacRumors</a>. The tech blog <a href="http://www.bgr.com/2012/09/24/iphone-5-light-leak-apple-defect/">BGR confirms the "light leak" with its own phones</a>. The iPad 2 reportedly had a similar problem in 2011, <a href="http://news.cnet.com/8301-13579_3-20042462-37.html">according to CNET.</a> [<a href="http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1450376">photo via MacRumors</a>]
It Scratches Too Easily
When you drop several hundred on a new iPhone, you want it to be pristine. That's what makes the so-called "scuff-gate" controversy such a blemish on the reputation of a company as obsessed with design as Apple. <a href="http://allthingsd.com/20120923/scuffgate-some-early-adopters-claim-iphone-5-case-is-scratch-tacular/">Bloggers at AllThingsD</a> and <a href="http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1445493">posters on the MacRumor forums</a> complain that the black iPhone 5 is very susceptible to dings and scratches, perhaps due to the iPhone 5's aluminum casing (which didn't exist on previous iPhones). Watch a 2-year-old girls scuff up a perfectly good iPhone 5 to the right, <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=OSFKVq36Hgc">in a video from iFixIt</a>.
It's Got A Screw Loose? (Well, Not A Screw)
<em>Rattle, rattle.</em> That's the sounds some iPhone 5 owners get when they shake their device, <a href="https://discussions.apple.com/message/19687103#19687103">according to posts on the Apple.com forums</a>. Some claim being told by Apple that it's normal noise created by camera competents, other say it's an unglued battery (the latter problem can be fixed with a trip to an Apple Store). In either case, it's annoying, as numerous YouTube videos show.
Its WiFi Radio Is Finicky
Again, Internet forums have been lighting up about slow to nonexistent WiFi connectivity in their new iPhones, when compared to the iPhone 4 or 4S. <a href="http://www.macworld.co.uk/ipad-iphone/news/?newsid=3400074&pagtype=allchandate">MacRumor writes</a <a href="https://discussions.apple.com/message/19662780#19662780">(and posts on the Apple Forums confirm)</a> that the issue for some users has to do with using a certain secure WiFi connection called WPA2. Moving to less secure WiFi connections resolves the issue, according to forums.
The 'No SIM Card Installed' Error
This is annoying: Imagine buying an iPhone, putting your SIM card in it and being told by your phone that there's "no SIM card installed." That's the error message reported in Apple.com forums <a href="https://discussions.apple.com/message/19721395#19721395">here</a> and <a href="https://discussions.apple.com/message/19729258#19729258">here</a>. If you're having this problem, restart your phones by holding down the Home and Sleep buttons. If that doesn't help, take it to the Apple Store and they can replace your SIM Card.