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New iPad mini could get a huge upgrade for a low price

iPad mini
(Image credit: Future)

The current iPad Mini is kind of like the iPhone SE 2020 of Apple's tablet lineup — it's extremely compact, it sports a very old design, and until last year, when Apple upgraded it to its A12 Bionic chipset, it hadn't received an update since 2015.

Yet the iPad Mini could get a new lease on life, based on a note from analyst Ming Chi-Kuo, who has predicted that a new model with a display measuring between 8.5 and 9 inches will launch within the first half of 2021.

In the meantime, another new 10.8-inch iPad could debut even earlier, before the end of this year. The news comes by way of MacRumors.

According to Kuo, the strategy Apple has elected to take here will be similar to the way they've approached that new budget iPhone. The calling card for both new iPad models will be fast, flagship-caliber chipsets despite low prices. Affordable iPads apparently count for somewhere between 60% and 70% of Apple's total tablet shipments, so it makes sense that Cupertino might want to double down on that segment of the market.

There's little doubt that the iPad Mini faithful would jump at the idea of a new model that fits a bigger display into that small chassis. The panel in the current Mini measures 7.9 inches, with prominent bezels all around — remember, Apple's never modified the design since the tablet was introduced in 2012 — and so there's certainly lots of room for that screen to grow.

MacRumors also highlights that in March, Kuo raised the possibility of Apple launching an update to the existing 7.9-inch iPad Mini with a mini-LED display before the end of this year. But that doesn't completely jell with this latest rumor, so it seems something would have to give. It's unlikely Apple would release a new 7.9-inch tablet with an advanced display if it's just going to replace it a few months down the line; perhaps the 8.5- or 9-inch A12-powered iPad Mini could gain a mini-LED panel as well.

The cheapest iPad currently on offer is the 10.2-inch model with an A10 chip and 32GB of storage, that starts at $329. Then you've got the Mini, at $399, and the iPad Air after that, at $499. It's unclear how these prices could shift in the face of new models, though.

Kuo's iPad report came at the same time the analyst warned that the oft-rumored Apple Glasses won't land in consumers' hands until 2022 "at the earliest," though tipster Jon Prosser disagreed with that forecast, saying that the actual release date will fall between March and June of 2021.