Marco Arment, the creator of Instapaper, recently speculated in his blog that the rumored 7-inch iPad Mini may be a spinoff of the iPad 2, using the same components found in the more recent 2nd-generation Apple tablet that was re-released earlier this year. However he does note that it's just a prediction: he currently has no clue what will be underneath the 7-inch tablet's hood.
"I saw two curious entries in Instapaper’s device stats today: one iPad2,5 and one iPad2,6," he writes. "These device models, as reported by the OS, could be faked by a jailbreaker with enough free time. But I’ve never had a device show up there that didn’t end up being a real, about-to-be-released Apple device."
He also found a few references to iPhone5.1 devices, confirming rumors that Apple is gearing up to launch the iPhone 5 next month. But as for the iPad2,5 and iPad2,6 references, he explains that it's clearly not the iPad 2 re-release which made its debut alongside the iPad 3 earlier this year.
"iPad2,4 is the 32-nm die-shrunk update that quietly replaced the 16 GB Wi-Fi iPad 2 when the iPad 3 was released, yielding better battery life and lower cost, and probably partly responsible for the iPad 2’s price drop to $399," he writes. "As far as I know, this was the first time Apple invested in a die shrink mid-cycle for any of the iOS devices. They haven’t even done it for the still-sold iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4. The decision to revise the iPad 2 internals, therefore, seemed a bit odd at the time, but makes a lot more sense now."
He theorizes that the iPad2,5 and iPad 2,6 could be "boring GSM and CDMA versions" of the die-shrunk iPad 2 so that it's not only available in a Wi-Fi model, bringing lower costs to the other iPad 2 configurations that are still for sale. Yet introducing these models so late in the game would be a really strange move on Apple's part. Instead, the entries likely refer to Wi-Fi and GSM versions of the iPad Mini. Even more, the CDMA version will likely be iPad2,7 if and when it's introduced.
That said, the iPad Mini may be a 7-inch version of the iPad 2, sporting an A5 SoC with 512 MB of RAM and enough GPU juice to drive the Gruber Display, but not the spiffier Retina Display. "It’s a textbook Tim Cook supply-chain move: selling the last generation’s hardware at a lower price point to expand marketshare," he adds.
So how much will this 7-inch iPad 2 retail? The gadget is currently classified as rumor, but there's indication it will cost around the $250 USD price point.