More evidence is emerging that suggests Apple will refresh an iPad model that hasn’t been updated in several years.
According to a supply chain report by DigiTimes on Thursday, Apple is planning on releasing two entry-level tablets within the first half of 2019.
The first is a successor to its 9.7-inch iPad, while the second could be a fifth-generation iPad mini.
The report joins several other forecasts suggesting that the iPad mini will be refreshed this year.
Back in October 2018, oft-accurate TF Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said that Apple is working on an updated version of the iPad mini with a better processor and a lower-cost display panel.
And in December, the China Times reported that Apple was preparing to launch an iPad mini 5 in the first half of 2019, alongside two other tablets.
It isn’t clear what other upgrades or form factor changes the new iPad mini could sport to bring it in-line with current Apple tablets. The last iPad mini to be released had a 7.9-inch display — not all that much larger than the 6.5-inch OLED display on the iPhone XS Max.
But an updated version of the iPad mini is long overdue. The device was last refreshed in September 2015, leading some to believe that Apple would kill off the product in the near future. Amusingly, DigiTimes even previously suggested that the iPad mini 4 would be the last of its kind.
As mentioned earlier, the iPad mini 5 is probably not the only entry-level tablet on the docket for 2019. Apple is also expected to release two versions of low-cost iPads as successors to its 9.7-inch iPad model from 2018.
According to the China Times, at least one of those versions could feature a narrower overall footprint with a 10-inch display — suggesting that the bezels will see a small reduction in size.
The ultimate goal is to boost sales of Apple’s low-priced tablets, which are popular in the education sector.
The DigiTimes report also claims that Taiwan-based General Interface Solutions will supply about 40 percent of the touch panels for the new entry-level tablets. TPK Holdings and O-film Technology will make up the other 60 percent of the low-end iPad supply sourcing.
It’s not clear when exactly the new lower-cost iPads could debut, but Apple last updated its entry-level tablet lineup in March 2018.