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Apple’s market-leading iPad is becoming increasingly difficult for consumers to keep up with. At the beginning of this year, we were up to the iPad 2, but as 2012 draws to a close, we are already – rather extraordinarily – talking about the iPad 5. Apple dropped a bombshell on iPad 3 owners by announcing the iPad 4 last month, but ever since the tear-downs of the A6X device concluded Apple’s rather wasteful design techniques, it has seemed only a matter of time before a thinner, lighter iPad emerged.

While there’s no real word on the next-generation Cupertino slate, some mockups have already surfaced, and indicate Apple’s iPad mini design could also be repeated on the larger, 9.7-inch version. The iPad mini has naturally garnered a lot of attention, but while not all of it has been positive, few can argue of its design credibility. Significantly thinner than its rivals, it offers that quintessential polished Apple finish, and if the mockups of the iPad 5 are a foreshadow of things to come, we could be in for a real treat.

Although the technologies of the larger iPad mean it can not offer the thinness and portability of the new mini, iFixit’s tear-down of the new model concluded Apple has been very wasteful with the iPad 4. For example, the Lightning dock connector is a feature, but the space saved remains just that – empty space. With so many other projects on the go in the run up to the release of the iPad 4 – such as the iPad mini and iPhone 5 – it’s possible Apple may have somewhat rushed the release, but with a seemingly clearer diary from here on in, the fruit company has a great opportunity to get its slab it better shape.

iPad 5

The iPad 3 and 4 may be slightly thicker and heavier than the iPad 2, but I firmly believe the iPad 5 will go the other way, en route to becoming the lightest iPad yet. The iPad mini is, to me, aesthetically pleasing – if grossly underpowered – and if Apple can successfully amalgamate the technologies of its high-end flagship with some of the design elements of the mid-range consumption device, it could be on to a real winner.

What do you make of the mockup?

Thanks, Justin for sending this in!

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