Taiwanese newspaper DigiTimes reported that Apple had finalized the full size 9.7-inch iPad as it looks towards a September release. The iPad mini, on the other hand, has not been set and could face further changes before ramping up full production.
"Since upstream suppliers have mostly finished preparing for the production of the new 9.7-inch iPad," the report sad, "there is unlikely to be any changes in terms of specifications for the device."
Apple has not announced either device, but informed speculation suggests the company will update its mobile device line in the fall when it releases iOS 7—a September release being the odds-on favorite month for the release.
The report also said the device has a slimmer bezel, and that Apple has figured out how to use one LED lightning panel to light the Retina Display, down from two. If true, this would mean better battery life—or this being Apple, a smaller battery—and less waste heat for the iPad.
DigiTimes has a rough reputation, largely because the site is often wrong. Our take, however, is that DigiTimes has grown more and more accurate in the last 2-3 years as the publication's sources in Apple's supply chain have gotten better.
It's important to remember that the site's reports are based on real leaks from those sources—in other words, the site isn't making things up out of whole cloth, but it does report what those sources say without being able to look at Apple's big picture. Even when the report is accurate, it doesn't necessarily mean that what the source knows translates into what Apple will actually do.
To that end, Apple CEO Tim Cook chided analysts in January not to make too much of individual reports, saying, "I would suggest that it's good to question the accuracy of any kind of rumor about build plans ... and also stress that even if a particular data point were factual, it would be impossible to accurately interpret the data point as to what it meant for our overall business."
That's good advice, but not all leaked reports are created equally. In the case of today's report from DigiTimes, the site cited multiple sources who said that Apple has not set a firm mass production schedule, but that they have been shipping components for "pilot production" just a few months before we were already expecting Apple to refresh this product line.
To be more specific: we believe this report is most likely accurate.
That's much different from saying a year in advance that Apple will include this or that component. While even those reports likely indicate something Apple is testing, that's about the most you should make of those kinds of reports.
As for the iPad mini, the report said that Apple is still debating whether or not to include a Retina Display on its most popular iPad model. We don't put much weight in this one.