Could this be the Apple iPad Mini?

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ipad-mini-first.jpgAll done with the iPhone 5 now? Yeah? Good. Because this morning we bring you the best look yet at Apple’s next big thing, the iPad Mini. Or should that be the next small thing?

Popping up on French blog NowhereElse and Chinese site BoloPad, it looks pretty much exactly how you’d expect it to – an iPad that’d fit snugly in a single hand.

A 7 inch tablet, with both front and rear cameras (unlike the original iPad, suggesting Apple will be looking to at least match the iPad 2 on the specs front), it uses Apple’s new, smaller Lightning dock connector, but the same wake/sleep, volume and mute/orientation buttons and switches as the full-fat version.ipad-mini-buttons.jpgEither side of the lower-edge dock connector looks to have perforations for better sound output.

However, there’s an unusual hole just slightly above the Apple logo on the rear backplate, which we’ve no explanation for. Perhaps an early production fault? A cooling vent? Or is Apple squeezing in something new?

No word on the display (the lack of iOS 6 in the above images, revealed by the legacy YouTube and Google Maps apps) suggest a mock-up display in use here, but it’s unlikely Apple will drop Retina resolutions from their big Christmas gadget, if this does indeed launch before the holidays.ipad-mini-speaker-port.jpgThe same goes for the processor. Are we looking at the iPad’s A5X, or the new A6 seen in the iPhone 5? And pricing: is the Mini set to take on the cheap-as-chips Kindle Fire 7″ and Google Nexus 7, or more expensive Microsoft Surface?

What with the annual Apple music event, usually reserved for iPods and iTunes, seemingly crammed in with the iPhone, we’re now expecting the October event to be handed over to the iPad Mini. We may well have concrete iPad Mini information sooner than you’d think for.

Gerald Lynch