As the chatter about an iPad Mini reaches a crescendo, new reports suggest that the tablet will look more like an oversized iPod Touch than a smaller iPad.
9to5Mac has posted several images of iPad Mini back plates from case makers, along with mockups of what the final product might look like. Instead of equal-sized bezels all around the tablet, these images suggest that the smaller iPad will have narrow bezels on the sides when held in portrait mode, similar to the design of most smartphones.
The blog iMore has posted its own iPad Mini mockup, based on input from several sources, that also shows a smaller bezel.
As for other measurements, iMore claims that the smaller iPad will be the exact same thinness as Apple's iPod Touch, or 0.28 inches. Though it's pure speculation, the popular Apple blogger John Gruber guesses that the iPad Mini will weigh roughly 0.58 pounds.
The narrow bezel would make sense for the way smaller tablets are held. Unlike 10-inch tablets, which must be gripped by the edges, tablets in the 7-inch range can be cradled in one hand, like a phone. You don't need a big bezel to hold onto, so the smaller the better for one-handed use.
With just one hand supporting the tablet, lightness also becomes key, especially for reading. Apple is no doubt looking to capture the paperback book feel that makes reading so pleasurable on Kindles and Nooks.
My one lingering question about the supposed iPad Mini is how narrow it'll be. Numerous reports claim that Apple will use a 4:3 screen with the same resolution as the original iPad, which would be wider than 7-inch tablets such as Google's Nexus 7.
If that's true, and the bezel isn't narrow enough to make up some of the difference, the iPad Mini could be trickier to fit inside a coat pocket or back jeans pocket. (The latter scenario may seem silly, but that's what I do with the Nexus 7 when I'm walking around the house with it and need both hands free.)
With so many rumors swirling around, the iPad Mini seems inevitable, and details are coming into focus. Pricing and release date are still anyone's guess, but reports suggest that Apple will announce its next iPhone in mid-September. The company could announce a sub-$300 iPad at the same time.