Plenty of people are waiting to see if Apple will launch an iPad mini 5 or "iPad Pro Mini" in March 2017 alongside the iPad Pro 2. Here's what the rumours say about the 2017 iPad mini release date, price and specs. Also see: Best tablet 2017.

We were expecting Apple to hold its Spring Event (aka new iPad launch) in March or early April, but no invites have yet gone out. The Apple Store is down this morning (it should be back online around 12.30pm GMT), which is often a sign that new products are about to be announced without the fanfare of a big launch event. Should we see new Apple products today we will update this article with full details. Click here to read the latest version of this article.

However, there's nothing to suggest that the iPad Mini 5 will be among the launches. If the rumours are true, Apple is planning to release an updated 9.7in iPad Pro along with a second-gen 12.9in iPad Pro and iPhone SE. No leaks or information from the supply chain point to a 7.9in tablet.

Rumours of the 'iPhone 8' say it will have an even larger screen (5.8in) than the 5.5in Plus models, so this could another reason why Apple isn't pursuing the 7.9in screen size any more.

Some rumours say that a new eight-inch tablet will be called the iPad Pro mini. We'd argue that the 7.9in screen is too small for productivity (or an even smaller keyboard cover) and that Apple will keep the 'Pro' suffix for the 9.7in and 12.9in models. Plus, to bolster this train of thought, a new 10.5in iPad is predicted for 2017, and this is much more likely to be added to the Pro line-up rather than a dinky iPad mini.

When is the iPad Pro mini release date?

iPad mini 5 UK release date: March 2017 (rumoured)

On 9 September 2015 Apple unveiled its iPad mini 4. This was a month earlier than usual, and with no separate iPad launch event scheduled for October it appeared alongside the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.

Apple has shaken things up a bit in 2016. It had one launch event in March, the WWDC developers conference in June, a second launch event in September, and a third in October. It didn't announce an iPad mini Pro in any of these events, which means the next most likely release date is March 2017. See also: iPad Air 3 rumours and iPad Pro 2 rumours

Last year the event was on Monday 21 March. But as it's already late March, it's getting increasingly unlikely there will be a big event this month.

One explanation is that - as reported by DigiTimes - the 2017 iPads will be delayed to the second half of the year as the components are still at a planning stage. That sort of means there's still room for an iPad mini 5 but the source doesn't mention anything smaller than 9.7in which doesn't bode well.

A conflicting report by Mac Otakara says Apple will go ahead with the rumoured schedule and announce four new iPad Pro models: 7.9-in, 9.7-in, 10.5-in and 12.9-in models. The 10.5-inch model may not ship until May, while other sizes are said to ship at the end of March.

The site also says we can expect a new 128GB model of the iPhone SE and a new red colour for the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.

How much will the iPad Pro mini cost in the UK?

Apple tends to keep the price of its iPad mini line-up the same, reducing the price of its previous-generation mini when the new model goes on sale.

So if Apple has managed to keep all leaks under control and surprises us with a launch in late March, then based on 2015’s iPad mini 4 pricing, we can expect an iPad mini 5 to be priced as follows:

• 32GB Wi-Fi only: £379
• 32GB Wi-Fi + 4G: £499
• 128GB Wi-Fi: £469
• 128GB Wi-Fi + 4G: £589

We are unlikely to see a 256GB model, given the additional cost for the larger storage iPad, but Apple could - again - surprise us. We might also see a further price increase. We've seen a recent price increase in all of Apple's products, and we wouldn't be surprised to see a further price hike in March 2017.

We also could see a 64GB model - where Apple initially had 16- and 64GB models. We wouldn't be surprised to see the mini 5 feature a 32-, 64- and 128GB variants.

The iPad mini 4 is available - and the iPad mini 5, if it materialises, will be available - direct from Apple, as well as third-party vendors such as John Lewis and Currys.

What will the new iPad mini be called?

What will the iPad Pro mini look like?

Apple is rumoured to be using Series 7000 aluminium for all new iPads. This is the same stuff it uses for the iPhone 6S and 7, which is stiffer and lighter than the lower grade aluminium used in other products.

The iPad mini 5 is more than likely going to look very familiar to the iPad mini 4, with the same 7.9in Retina display. However, it’s tipped to feature a 7000-series aluminium chassis, which will make it more durable. That’s handy, since it’s also rumoured to be thinner than its predecessor: just 5mm thick.

Also expect Apple to introduce a Rose Gold colour option, as it has done elsewhere in its hardware line-up.

What are the rumoured features?

• 3D Touch: Apple introduced 3D Touch on the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, and it’s expected to make its way to the iPad mini line in 2016. 3D Touch is able to register how much pressure is applied to the screen and offer differing options as a result.

• IP68 protection: After the iPhone 7 launch, the possibility of having a water-resistant iPad isn't too far-fetched. We’d love to see IP68 certification in an iPad, but we can’t avoid the feeling this tip may be just wishful thinking.

• Apple Pencil: Should Apple decide to introduce an iPad Pro mini rather than an iPad mini 5, the new iPad mini will more than likely feature Apple’s posh new stylus. Rumours suggest Apple will indeed launch the Apple Pencil 2 this year, but whether it's with a smaller iPad or not remains to be seen - a new 12.9in iPad Pro is the tip.

• iOS 10: We know a new version of Apple’s iPad and iPhone operating system has been released on the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, so any new iPads Apple release will also feature iOS 10.

What are the rumoured specifications?

• Processor: The iPad mini 4 features the Apple A8 processor and M8 motion co-processor, so expect to see the A9 and M9 in the iPad mini 5.

• 32GB storage as standard: The iPad mini 4 was initially offered in 16GB, 64GB and 128GB variants. It can now only be found in 32- and 128GB storage sizes. We expect Apple to make 32GB the base model, with a 64- and 128GB models being both made available.

• Screen: We doubt Apple will upgrade the screen resolution, because doing so would go against all it said previously about the Retina display. As before expect a 7.9in Retina IPS display, but here with the possible addition of 3D Touch.

• Battery: According to Cult of Mac the iPad mini 5 will feature a smaller-capacity battery in order to fit into 5mm frame, but using improved technology so it doesn’t negatively impact runtime. The iPad mini 4 features a 5,124mAh battery.

• Cameras: No changes are expected here. The new iPad mini will likely feature an 8Mp camera at the rear and 1.2Mp at the front.

• No headphone port: The iPhone 7 ditched the standard 3.5mm headphone jack in favour of the lightning port. As the iPhone has lost the headphone connector, it's a possibility that the new iPad mini will do so also.

• NFC: Although it is possible to use Apple Pay on the iPad mini, doing so isn’t seamless because it doesn’t support NFC. Apple has bitten the bullet with the iPhone; expect it to do the same with the iPad mini.

• Aluminium chassis: We anticipate the new iPad mini 5 to be protected with an aluminium body. More specifically, the 7000-series aluminium chassis allowing the iPad to be thinner and more durable.

Other specs, such as the TouchID fingerprint scanner, are likely to remain the same.

For more new iPad mini rumours check out our sister site Macworld.

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