Mention of three new models of iPad Mini have been spotted in a pre-release version of Apple's upcoming iOS 7, but seemingly without a key hardware feature many are hoping for.
Pointing to hidden iOS 7 code sent in by a developer, 9to5Mac notes mention of iPad models "2,8," "2,9," and "2,10" which represent higher numbers than Apple's existing trio of iPad Minis, which are listed in code as "2,5," "2,6," and "2,7."
The new models also have a reference to the same A6 chip found inside of the iPhone 5, but without the typical references to double-resolution images found in iOS devices with Retina Displays. That strongly suggests these new iPad Mini models would come with a screen that's the same resolution as the current model.
The mentions and specifications of the new hardware line up with what NPD DisplaySearch said last month. That same report also suggested that new models would be slimmer than the current model, but did not go into specifics on why.
Sniffing out new hardware features in Apple's code can be a hit or miss affair. Code referencing "4G" appeared in iOS 5.1 in early 2012, though Apple didn't ship a phone with 4G LTE connectivity until the iPhone 5 last September. That code did, in fact, show up in a late-stage beta version of iOS 6 a month before that hardware came out.
Apple released the iPad Mini last October, and it was an immediate hit, with the company reporting sales of 3 million in its first three days on sale. Analysts have expected that the product won't be updated until the first part of next year, missing the all-important holiday shopping season. That's despite increased competition from Google and its new Nexus 7, and a rumored fresh crop of Kindle fire tablets from Amazon.