Apple launch event preview: What to expect from the iPad 5 and iPad mini 2

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Today is the big day! Later on, Apple will likely be unveiling new hardware revisions of its popular iPad line, and the rumour mill has been at fever pitch. We can expect a stylishly thin redesign, but we’re wondering what else is on the docket. Will the iPad mini ship with a Retina display? Will the Touch ID fingerprint scanner make its way to the iPhone’s big brother? If these rumours are to be believed, we’ll leave today’s press event feeling very satisfied.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Apple will indeed ship a Retina-capable iPad mini, but it remains unclear about what the end cost will be to consumers. Most rumours point towards the existence of the Retina iPad mini, but it might serve as a medium tier between the current low-res iPad mini and the high-end 9.7in iPad.

Since Amazon and Google are constantly pushing the specs of cheap 7in tablets ever-higher, it seems that asking more than £269 for the Retina iPad mini could be a disaster for Apple. The Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HDX are already extremely compelling products, with Retina-class displays that cost substantially less than the entry-level iPad.

The WSJ also mentions that Apple might be replacing the thick sheet of glass on the iPad with a thin film-like surface. This likely wouldn’t change the functionality, but it would enable Apple to ship thinner, lighter, and more aesthetically appealing products. Alternatively, Apple could opt to fill that missing weight and bulk with bigger batteries – perhaps offsetting the large drain of that beautiful Retina display. Either way, Apple’s top-notch engineering team has some enormous expectations to live up to.

So, what about the Touch ID feature we saw launch on the iPhone 5S? The rumour mill is waffling back and forth about its potential inclusion with the next-gen iPads. Some outlets are claiming that we won’t see Touch ID on this crop of iPads, but two different foreign outlets (C Technology and 2014 News) are claiming that both the iPad and iPad mini will ship with the Touch ID sensor. After all of the positive buzz surrounding this feature, it would certainly be disappointing if it wasn’t rolled out to more product lines.

Of course, nothing is assured until it’s officially announced on stage. We’ve heard that the Mac Pro, MacBook Pro, and OS X Mavericks will all make an appearance at the event as well, so we’re in for an exciting day – that much is certain. As always, we’ll be covering the announcement live, so check back later on today at 18:00 BST (13:00 EST, 10:00 PDT) for all the details as they happen.

Meanwhile, you might want to check out our article on 9 things we'd like to see in Apple's new iPads.

Image Credits: Sonny Dickson