Apple's new iPad mini 3 could be the company's last small tablet for a while, if a new rumor out of East Asia is to be believed. The Cupertino, Calif., company is reportedly planning on discontinuing the iPad mini line next year in favor of its rumored 12.2-inch iPad Pro.
Citing the Economic Daily News, Apple Insider claims that Apple may abandon its 8-inch iPad mini due to the popularity of phablet-sized smartphones, including the company's own iPhone 6 Plus. The popularity of the iPad as a whole has dipped slightly over the past year; Apple sold 12.3 million of its tablets in Q4 2014, down almost 2 million from the 14.1 million iPads sold in the same quarter last year.
The end of the iPad mini wouldn't be a massive surprise, considering that the mini 3 seemed like an afterthought when it was mentioned for a few seconds at Apple's Oct. 16 iPad Air 2 event. The $400 tablet costs $100 more than the iPad mini 2, yet the only discernible difference is its Touch ID fingerprint reader and its new gold color option.
If the rumor of the iPad mini's demise holds up, Apple may be shifting its resources to a hybrid device that could take on Microsoft's Surface Pro 3. Based on rumors we've heard, the iPad Pro could pack a 12.2-inch display, a Surface-esque keyboard cover, an Apple A8 processor and possibly even a mobile version of Apple's Mac OS X. The slate is expected to mimic the iPad Air 2 from a design perspective, with additional speakers and an extra microphone on the top edge.
The iPad Pro is rumored to arrive by Q3 2015, for a price that will likely be more premium than that of the iPad Air 2. We've yet to hear any official word on the hybrid slate from Apple, so stay tuned for more details.