Though it hasn't been updated since 2015, the 7.9-inch iPad mini won't be among the trio of new iPads Apple is expected to introduce this spring, instead sticking to larger form factors, according to a new report.
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo issued a note to investors on Sunday, a copy of which was obtained by AppleInsider, in which he indicated that Apple is expected to update the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, to introduce a new design sized 10 to 10.5 inches with a narrow bezel, and to offer a low priced 9.7-inch model. They are expected to debut in the second quarter of 2017, which would put them in the hands of consumers sometime between April and June.
Kuo, who has a strong track record in predicting Apple's future product plans, made no mention of an updated iPad mini. The diminutive tablet was last refreshed in September of 2015 -- since then, Apple has focused on introducing "Pro" models with Apple Pencil support and magnetic Smart Connector, commanding a more premium price.
The 12.9-inch and 10-plus-inch iPad Pro models are expected to feature a beefed-up version of the A10 chip found in the iPhone 7, dubbed an "A10X." According to Kuo, the so-called "A10X" will be manufactured by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.
Meanwhile, the budget-priced 9.7-inch model is expected to feature a version of the A9 chip found in the iPhone 6s. That chip will be manufactured by Samsung, he said.
Kuo believes that the 9.7-inch model may move the most units -- his forecast calls for the lowest priced option to represent between 50 and 60 percent of total shipments.
He also predicts that iPad shipments will drop yet again, though less than last year, off 10 percent year over year. In his view, "the worst has passed" for the iPad, and better average selling prices with professional-grade models will boost revenue.
Where that leaves the iPad mini remains to be seen. Apple still sells the iPad mini 4 for $399, but it features an outdated A8 processor that Apple no longer uses in its iPhone lineup. If Apple does plan to keep the iPad mini in its lineup, it's possible that an update could wait until later in the year.
Back in 2015, it was suggested that the latest iPad mini 4 would be the last update ever to the product line. At the time, it was said Apple was planning to end-of-life the smaller form factor.
Late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs famously decried small tablets before his company ultimately introduced the iPad mini back in 2012. Jobs quipped that makers of tablets with smaller form factors would need to ship sandpaper with their devices, so users could file down their fingers to the point where they could hit smaller targets on the screen.