Will Apple Launch a Second Generation iPad Mini in 2013?

It doesn't take a trip to the local psychic to figure out Apple's planning to release another iPad mini device, but what nobody outside of Cupertino knows is exactly when. Even Apple may not have a specific date in mind, which makes speculating an even tougher proposition. Nevertheless, DisplaySearch thinks it has at least a rough estimate based on supply chain data.

"We're seeing potential in the third quarter period of panel production for a higher-resolution iPad mini," DisplaySearch analyst Paul Semenza revealed to CNET. "When would the [next] mini be available? Could be third quarter or fourth quarter."

iPad mini

Another thing that makes predicting an iPad mini 2 launch date tricky is the inevitable upgrade to a Retina-class display. The current iPad mini sports a 1024x768 resolution panel, and it's hard to imagine Apple not upgrading to something much higher. If so, there are challenges to overcome, such as ensuring a steady supply of parts.

The other hurdle is fitting a Retina-class panel into a thin and light form factor. They're heavier panels, as evidenced by the 3rd and 4th generation 9.7-inch iPads weighing more than the non-Retina iPad 2. Keep in mind the iPad mini measures a scant 7.2mm, which is something Apple's awfully proud of.

Nexus 7

While on the topic of handheld tablets, Semenza said Google may beat Apple to the punch by launching an upgraded Nexus 7 before the iPad mini 2. Semenza says the next Nexus 7 is likely to feature a 1920x1200 resolution panel, versus 1280x800 in the current version.

What will all these upgraded tablets cost? Probably the same as current models, if past product launches are any indication. If you're looking for a price break, Apple recently started selling refurbished iPad mini and 4th generation 9.7-inch iPad tablets.