New mini iPad mockups show the skinner side bezels and thin design

Building upon a mid-August report calling for a smaller iPad with an iPod touch-thin profile and smaller bezels on the sides of the display, case makers have begun producing physical mockups of what they believe Apple’s rumored iPad mini might look like. Granted, case vendors have been wrong more often than right (hint: last year’s teardrop-shaped iPhone cases), but a pair of new mockups do align nicely with claimed iPad mini schematics and other tidbits circulating around the web lately… points us to a listing on the online commerce website TaoBao (via 9to5Mac) that shows a mockup of a 7.85-inch iPad with the skinnier side bezels. The thing appears to match the details reported by iMore, 9to5Mac and Apple pundit John Gruber.

Specifically, the mockup, seen below, calls for the smaller bezels along the sides of the device in portrait mode. Also interesting, it depicts a smaller dock connector said to be deployed across upcoming iOS devices, as well as separate volume buttons and a mic on the back.

It also has an antenna cutout at the top of the device and another one for a SIM-card slot, suggesting that Apple will release both WiFi and cellular versions of the mini iPad.

Another mockup comes by way of the German website, which discovered an interesting case model at the IFA show in Berlin, Germany and featuring an all-metal appearance.

The top image shows the mockup pictured next to an iPhone 4S, giving a good indication of the possible size of the iPad mini relative to the iPhone.

This particular mockup also features recesses for ambient light and camera sensors on the front side and above the display, right where you’d expect them.

Additional images available at the source link reveal a SIM card tray slot on the left side, a headphone jack, a microphone, the power button, a pair of speaker grills at the bottom and a smaller dock connector.

The meticulously crafted prototype appears to be a little bit skinnier than an iPhone 4S.

As part of Apple’s fall transition, the iPad mini is expected to be announced at an October media event, separate of the likely September 12 unveiling of a sixth-generation iPhone.

What do you guys think?

Are these just elaborate hoaxes or the best guesstimate of the iPad mini’s design we’ve seen to date?