But Apple's announced approach is to make products better, not different. So it's not clear how an overall smaller iPad, with the same 9.7-inch screen, would be better, unless the smaller size led to lighter weight. But Apple increased the size of iPhone 5, to 4.87 inches long vs. 4.5 inches long for iPhone 4S and still significantly reduced its weight, to 3.95 ounces vs. 4.9 ounces for the 4S, and its thickness, to 0.30 inches vs. 0.38 inches for the older model.
Making the Next iPad thinner and lighter could be Apple's main priorities, not the overall size or making the side bezels narrower. There may be other reasons for keeping the overall size of iPad 5 the same. If Apple can free up internal space by other means, as it did by creating the new, smaller Lightning dock connector, then keeping the overall size the same would give more room for something like a larger battery.
There also may be plusses for the "human-machine interface" by sticking with a wider bezel at the side, even though as Weintraub notes "Apple has improved iOS so that accidental screen actions on the sides of iPads don't register as actions/gestures which facilitate these narrower bezels."
But probably the last word on this assessment should belong to MacRumors' Eric Slivka. "Back in February, we commissioned CiccareseDesign to create renderings of the fifth-generation iPad based on circulating rumors and leaks, and today's front bezel photos are indeed consistent with those renderings."
We're not quite sure if he's saying that the Ciccarese illustrations validate the rumors or that rumors validate the illustrations. But something is getting validated, for sure.
iPad 5 production to start in July-August ... and you know that means
With almost haiku-like brevity, a post at the indefatigable Digitimes claims that "Volume production of the fifth-generation 9.7-inch iPad will kick off in July-August 2013, according to sources with Taiwan-based supply chain makers."
But maybe not. "Yield rates for key components, especially touch panels, will be a major concern for smooth production," Digitimes darkly warns. According to the sources the iPad 5 display will be from LG Display and Sharp; the touch panel assembly from TPK; and the ITO (indium tin oxide) thin film will be from Nitto Denko and Teijin.
ITO is used in transparent conductive coatings for liquid crystal displays, for three key reasons: high electrical conductivity, high optical transparency, and the ease in depositing it as a thin film, according to the Wikipedia entry.
The Digitimes claims are both familiar and replete with the surface plausibility that unfailingly gives them more credibility than they deserve. It all hinges on how well-informed the anonymous sources are, and they're always beyond evaluation.
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