iPad Mini's 'guts' may combine old, new technologies

New devices detected by online clipping service may be iPad 2 in a smaller package

A developer of a popular mobile app believes he's discovered evidence of what the insides of the rumored iPad Mini will look like and why it could sell for as low as $US249.

Marco Arment, creator of Instapaper, an iOS app for clipping and reformatting online content for reading later, deduced in his blog Thursday that iPad Mini will be essentially an iPad 2 in a smaller package with the graphics chops to run a Gruber display but not Apple's eye-popping Retina display.

"Its a textbook Tim Cook supply-chain move: selling the last generations hardware at a lower price point to expand marketshare," Arment writes.

"But this time, it's more dramatic," he adds. "Rather than just sell the original iPad 2 with a price cut, they've made a new product designed to be far less expensive from day one by combining old and new parts: the 32nm iPad 2s guts, larger-cut iPhone 3GS screens, a smaller case and battery, and the new iPhones low-power LTE chip for $100 more. "

"I bet they could sell that for $249, and that would be a steal," he adds.

Armant reached his conclusions about the Mini after reviewing device statistics delivered to him by his Instapaper user base. Those stats showed two new iPad models — iPad2,5 and iPad2,6.

While acknowledging that the new model designations could be faked by jailbreaking an iPhone, that's not consistent with Armant's prior experience with information appearing in his app's device stats. " Ive never had a device show up there that didn't end up being a real, about-to-be-released Apple device," he wrote.

The two new iPad 2s could be upcoming revisions of the existing iPad 2, but the developer maintained that would be unlikely, considering how late the device is in its lifecycle. "The much more likely explanation is that iPad2,5 and iPad2,6 are the new 'iPad Mini' in Wi-Fi and GSM, and I havent recorded the likely iPad2,7 CDMA version yet," he writes.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that Apple will be going to AU Optronics and LG Display for displays for the Mini and TPK Holding, a subsidiary of Foxconn Technology Group, for the lamination coating for the 7.85-inch screens.

Sharp, a large supplier of displays for Apple products, will be shut out of the initial Mini runs, the report noted.

The Japanese company may already have too much Apple on its plate. It hasn't even started producing screens for the next iPhone 5, expected to reach retailers September 21, according to The Wall Street Journal. That development is raising questions about Apple's capability to meet the initial demand for the handset, the Journal says.

Follow freelance technology writer John P. Mello Jr. and Today@PCWorld on Twitter.

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John P. Mello Jr.

PC World (US online)
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