Apple is constantly working on ways to improve their products. One of the biggest complaints against the iPad is weight. Although it weighs in at less than 1.5 pounds, it is significantly heavier than various seven-inch tablets that are flooding the market right now. If, and when, Apple launches the iPad mini, it is going to have to be very lightweight in order to seem like an improvement on other tablets in the same market.
According to Japanese-based website Macotakara (translated with Google Translate), earlier this year, Apple requested carbon fiber samples from a Japanese company that began production with the material in mid-March.
Sources who spoke with Macotakara said that Apple’s order was too large to be considered a sample, and believe that the unnamed supply company is actually manufacturing carbon fiber casings for upcoming iOS devices.
Apple has been in the market for carbon fiber casings for a while now. The company has filed numerous patent requests for carbon-based designs for years. A 2010 patent summarizes Apple’s desire to incorporate carbon fiber skins into its devices.
“Plastic enclosures tend to be relative inexpensive and simple to manufacture but may be brittle and crack under relatively low stress. Other electronic devices have metal housings. Metal casings are durable but may be heavier and/or more expensive to manufacture than an equivalently-sized plastic casing.”
Apple Insider points out that the iPhone 5 is 20 percent lighter than previous models because the back casing is made from a lightweight metal material instead of the sleek, but heavy, glass backing we are so used to.
If the rumors are true, and Apple has been working with suppliers to manufacture carbon fiber cases, there is a good chance that the purported iPad mini will be wearing the new skin, making it super lightweight, while maintaining its durability.