The updated iPad mini is effectively ready to go, and Apple's supply chain is already preparing components, industry sources told Taiwan's DigiTimes. Even that tablet is expected to be a modest upgrade over the iPad mini 3, however, which itself added only Touch ID and a gold color option to the second-generation iPad mini.
Another Taiwanese publication, the Economic Daily News, made virtually identical claims in July, but further suggested that the "iPad mini 4" would be the last-ever version of the diminutive tablet. It argued that there would be no "iPad Air 3" this year in order to focus on the 12.9-inch "iPad Pro", and to alleviate pressure on Foxconn, Apple's main manufacturing partner.
Both DigiTimes and the Economic Daily News have a mixed record with Apple hardware predictions. Other rumors have been contradictory, hinting that an "iPad Air 3" is still coming later this year.
The tablet market has softened considerably in the past couple of years. The iPad still remains the most popular individual brand worldwide, but Apple has seen sales of the device decline consistently for several quarters.
Much of this has been blamed on the growing popularity of smartphones over 5 inches, such as Apple's own iPhone 6 Plus, which is big enough to fulfill many of the same purposes as a tablet. Tablet upgrade cycles are also believed to be slower than those of smartphones, more akin to PCs that last 5 years or more.