ipad59to5mac

Even though it’s only been a few months since Apple unveiled the fourth-generation iPad, the rumor mill is already rife with iPad 5 talk. The tablet has reportedly been redesigned to look like the iPad mini, with a thinner profile and smaller bezels.

Well if that really is the case, then this purported next-gen iPad shell fits the bill perfectly. It’s dipped in the same black & slate color as the iPad mini, and features a similar design with chamfered edges and a smaller overall footprint…

ipad52 9to5mac

The images of the shell come from 9to5Mac, who say they received the ‘unverified’ photos from a purported China-based iPad accessories maker.

“While we cannot confirm that the above image is legitimate, it does provide a solid representation of what Apple’s next iPad will likely look like. We were told this is a prototype back piece for the fifth-generation iPad with a 9.7-inch display. We were also told that the casing is almost as thin as the iPad mini’s back (pictured to the right). As you can see at the top of the purported iPad 5 backplate, this casing would likely be for an LTE model – as the black antenna cut implies.”

As aforementioned, the component matches up with a recent report from iLounge’s Jeremy Horwitz, who says that he has seen a physical model of the fifth generation iPad.

“What does it look like? Well, it’s a lot smaller than one would guess was possible: in portrait orientation, picture a 9.7” screen with virtually no left or right bezels, and only enough space above and below the screen to accommodate the mandatory camera and Home Button elements. Beyond that, it’s noticeably thinner, as well, which is to say the the fifth-generation iPad will be smaller in every dimension than its predecessors. As it will have the same chamfered edges and curves, calling it a “stretched iPad mini” is very close to entirely accurate.”

It’s worth noting, though, that Horwitz’ report called for an October release of both the next-gen iPad and iPad mini. This part leak, if accurate, would suggest that the new iPad would be arriving much closer to its usual Spring timeframe.

On top of that, evidence has recently popped up regarding an unknown iPad model with 128GB of storage. It’s possible that the two are related. Or, as suggested by John Gruber, it’s possible that a 128GB version of the current iPad will hit in the Spring, with a redesigned iPad 5 landing in the fall.

Regardless, I find this design to be a significant improvement over the previous one. Here’s hoping it’s accurate.

What are your thoughts on the iPad-mini like rear shell?