Apple’s war on buttons sets sights on iPad mini

The iPad mini hasn’t changed much since its debut in 2012, but it looks like the most neglected member of Apple’s tablet family is about to get some attention as the company has the Home button in its sights. 

The Home button has become something of an endangered species since Apple decided screen space was all-important with the iPhone X. It’s almost completely vanished from the company’s product line (iPhone SE aside), so it’s perhaps no surprise that the iPad mini is next in line for, uh, unbuttoning.

In his latest Power On newsletter, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman says that the iPad mini “should be a go” for autumn (well, he says “fall” but I’ve bravely translated) and will be the “biggest redesign in the nine-year history” of the device.

Given the limited changes the mini has had over said nine years, that’s not saying much and it doesn’t sound like Apple will be doing anything too wacky, even without the guiding hand of Jony Ive. An earlier Gurman report says it’ll be reminiscent of the most recent iPad Air – think thinner bezels and no Home button.  That doesn’t mean you’ll be getting facial unlocking though: the iPad Air maintains Touch ID, simply removing the fingerprint reader to the power button.

Another report from the most quoted analyst on the planet, Ming-Chi Kuo, said that the iPad mini may be betraying its name with something of a growth spurt. The Apple soothsayer stated that the screen could be between 8.5- and 9-inches, which is a bit of an upgrade from the current 7.9-inches and really pushing the definition of the word “mini” to breaking point.

Of course, the current model did inherit virtually the same shell as the 2015 model, which in turn isn’t a million miles away from the 2012 original, which was made at a time when thick bezels were all the rage. Well, actually more of a necessity. Still, if Apple can shrink the bezels, it’s possible that the new iPad mini could up the screen size without changing the device’s overall footprint.

That’d be a change I could get behind, personally. The 2019 iPad mini is something I always grab when covering events as, to my mind, it’s the perfect note-taking device, when combined with the Apple Pencil and the excellent Notability app. If Apple could find a way of making its smallest tablet less of a throwback to the last decade without making it much bigger, it’s hard to imagine it being anything other than an easy recommendation.

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