We've seen leaked photos of what looked like parts of the iPad Mini before, but this is the first time pictures of what appears to be a fully functioning 7-Inch Apple tablet have surfaced online, suggesting that the iPad Mini release date is rapidly approaching in manufacturing is in full gear.
The leaked iPad Mini pictures in question first surfaced on Bolopad, a Chinese website which claims that the photos are the real deal. We're inclined to believe them, despite the original article's bizarre (translated) headline: "Apple's new iPad Mini real machine spy photos."
These leaked pictures of the iPad Mini support previously leaked images, and also feature many of the design upgrades which were rumored for the iPhone 5 and confirmed by Apple last week at the new iPhone launch event. Like the iPhone 5, the iPad Mini (according to these leaked pictures) features a taller screen ratio allowing for a fourth row of app icons, a centered front-facing camera, a smaller dock connector and redesigned speaker grilles. The one iPHone 5 design change which doesn't carry over in these images is the migrated headphone jack, which was moved to the bottom of the device in the latest iPhone but still appears at the top left in the iPad Mini.
Given the high number of leaked iPhone 5 pictures which turned out to be real, it seems likely that these iPad Mini photos are also real. The reason for this increase in leaked pictures of Apple devices is still unclear.
"It almost feels like Apple is letting these products out of the factories to control market expectations and backlash from the press and consumers," writes Jesus Diaz for Gizmodo. "Or perhaps Foxconn's workers are getting smarter at smuggling them out the factory. Or things have gotten so massive that it's impossible to control."
Diaz goes on to wonder if this new tactic is part of Apple's new CEO Tim Cook's strategy to "neutralize negative opinions on an increasingly beige product line by allowing people an advanced look."
Even if Apple is purposefully leaking information they still aren't commenting on rumors and speculation. Apple has either confirmed or denied this new leaked iPad Mini picture.