Apple to announce smaller iPad Mini Oct. 23, but how much will it cost?

Three days before Microsoft’s new Surface tablet is set to hit stores, Apple will hold a special invitation media session to introduce the much anticipated iPad Mini, according to allthingsd.

No press invitations have been sent out yet, but longtime Apple watcher Jim Dalrymple of loopsight has quoted the report and added a cryptic “Yep” comment below. Dalrymple is long known to have deep Apple sources and his single word “yep” and “nope” pronouncements are usually always true.

But, c’mon, we knew this was coming. There are even asian manufacturers selling iPad Mini cases at 7.85 inches. The bigger question is price.

Let’s assume the rumors of the 7.85 screen are true. That’s bigger than Nexus 7 or the smaller version of Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD. The bigger questions, of course, are will iPad Mini have the following:

1. Retina display
2. Front AND rear cameras
3. 3G and 4G LTE support
4. A sub $300 price point

We think you can count on Apple including its new smaller Lightning charging port on the new iPad Mini, but if they add the mini-port to the iPad Mini, shouldn’t they also go ahead and update the 10-inch iPad to the new cable, too? In iPad’s brief history, Apple has always updated it early in the year, not later, and many customers’ versions of “The New iPad” aren’t a half-year old yet, so the idea of a “New, New iPad” might be a bit odd, but if Apple can make it thinner and lighter (remember, iPad 3 was heavier than iPad 2) and make other subtle improvements as well as adding the new charging port, we think it would make sense to do a mid-year refresh ahead of a March announcement of iPad 4.

On the other points, it might make sense for Apple to go bare bones with one version of the iPad Mini and push it out there as cheaply as it can. Right now, the new 4-inch iPod Touch goes for $299, so many pundits speculate Apple couldn’t possibly produce a smaller iPad and sell it for less.

Think about this as a possibility.

The iPod Touch is a feature rich device. It does everything the new iPhone 5 can do and does them nearly as well in some cases and identically as well in others. So if Apple were to release two versions of iPad Mini, you could hit a cheaper price point with a WiFi only device, no cameras, no retina display. Then you could have a full figured iPad Mini for $349 or $399 that has retina, 4G LTE, all the bells and whistles.

We don’t know what Apples plans are, but we’ll keep you updated and be sure to tune to these pages for live updates from the announcement Oct. 23.

 

 

 

 

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