In between the major upgrades to its iOS device roster, Apple often quietly pushes refreshed hardware, tweaking a certain fault or improving overall efficiency or performance. Today’s iOS 7.1 update appears to indicate that the iPad range has been subject to one or two subtle alterations, with the list of devices compatible with the new firmware revealing two new unidentified iPad device numbers. iOS 7.1 for iPads 4,3 and 4,6 – neither of which have been announced by Apple – suggest that the Cupertino has been doing a little hardware-based housekeeping, but since no announcement was made, any changes are probably rudimentary, with no immediately apparent differences.

The introduction of the iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display has been well-received throughout the tablet community. The full-size device is considerably thinner and lighter than its predecessor, and although the second-gen mini has gotten a little bit heavier than some would have liked, it’s a trade-off worth suffering for the gorgeous new Retina display. Both are kitted out with the revered new A7 processor and M7 motion coprocessor, and with comparable lists of tech specs, iPad fans are quite literally spoilt for choice.

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The model numbers discovered among the builds for iOS 7.1 suggest one new Retina iPad mini and a further iPad Air. Both 4,1 and 4,2 relate to the Air, while 4,4 and 4,5 relate to the iPad mini with Retina display, so it’s probably safe to assume that 4,3 is a slightly modified iPad Air while 4,6 indicates the corresponding Retina iPad mini.

Even though Apple probably has no intention of releasing any info with regards to these new models, we’d certainly be interested in learning of what’s been tweaked, if only for sake of clarification. It might well be that the devices are completely unchanged, and simply tailored to a specific area or region, but if, for example, they boast slightly more efficient batteries, certain optimizations to the processor or alterations to the manufacturing process, it would be good to nail down the specifics.

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Should such information come to light at any point in the future, though, we will be sure to let you guys know straight away, so stay tuned to our coverage here at Redmond Pie!

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