As I predicted last week, if the rumors of a new iPad Mini 5 coming in early 2019 are true, then we will start to see supply chain leaks pop up. Well, right on cue, Chinese site IT Leaks has pictures of what it claims is a case for the coming iPad Mini.
It is interesting that this design has a vertical camera layout, similar to iPad Pros and iPhones from last year on. However, this case also has what looks like a Smart Connector cutout in the old location and a headphone jack. Hmmm.
Add to this some shade cast by noted leaker Steve Hemmerstoffer from @OnLeaks on Twitter, and there is some healthy doubt over the truth of this particular rumor.
Maybe #Apple kept that form factor for the reportedly upcoming #iPadMini5 but one thing I can tell you for sure is that this protective case has been made based upon a 2016 prototype. That’s no less than 2 years old data. Thus, I doubt that case shows still accurate details… https://t.co/JkPoieaRzD
— Steve H.McFly (@OnLeaks) December 24, 2018
He claims that this case is based on a prototype from December 2016, which unfortunately seems reasonable based on the design elements we see here.
However, I don’t think this means it’s time to lose hope. In my opinion, it actually tells us a little about what we should expect if Apple does decide to revamp the Mini. I think the design would at least be bumped up to the 2017 iPad/iPad Pro level. This would mean a small upgrade from the much older current design. One unfortunate change that may follow along is the loss of the headphone jack, but who knows. Apple may not need the extra room using an older screen and just leave that part of the design alone to cut costs.
This case also tells us that Apple at one time at least considered the possibility of releasing an iPad Mini Pro. The presence of a Smart Connector and the clues from @OnLeaks pretty much confirm that they prototyped such a device. I think that is worth noting, even if it never saw the light of day.
Why? Even if Apple goes the inexpensive route with a new Mini this year, as expected, there would still be reason to hope for interesting upgrades down the line. We can see a shred of proof that Apple has considered a beefed up Mini already. Also, consider that the iPad got Apple Pencil support in year two and maintained its lower price point. Maybe a new Mini could see a similar bump in its second or third year. A Mini doesn’t need to be a “Pro” device, but the iPad shows us that you don’t have to be Pro to work with Apple Pencil anymore.
Considering @OnLeaks track record of providing good info, I doubt that this case pictured above is based on the most current design plans for the iPad Mini. However, don’t lose hope, Mini fans. There is still plenty of time for legitimate pre-release leaks to make their way out of the supply chain. Remember that we didn’t get anything solid beyond rough CAD renderings on the new iPad Pros until a month or less from release. There’s still time.