It's been almost two years since Apple launched the iPad mini 4, and that model could be the last 7.9in tablet from Apple. Although you might be waiting for an iPad mini 5 or 'iPad Pro Mini' to upgrade an older or broken iPad, there are no leaks or rumours to suggest one is on the horizon. Here's what the rumours say about the 2017 iPad mini release date, price and specs.

When is the iPad Pro mini release date?

iPad mini 5 / iPad Pro mini UK release date: TBC

On 9 September 2015 Apple unveiled the iPad mini 4. Apple then shook 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 Pro mini during any of these events, which meant the next most likely release date was March 2017.

However, in March 2017 the iPad mini 4 got a small update (just an increase in storage). Since then, though, no new model has been teased for fans of the smaller tablet, including when Apple launched its new 10.5in iPad Pro at WWDC on 5 June.

There are some rumours about the iPad mini, but they're all pointing in the same direction: Apple is quietly phased out the range. One - a BGR source close to Apple - claims that it's the end of the road for the 7.9in tablet. It doesn't say when this might happen though, so it could be more of a long-term plan than an announcement shortly. 

As to the question of whether any new model would be an 'iPad Pro mini' we'd argue that the 7.9in screen is too small for productivity (and for a matching keyboard cover). Most likely is that Apple will keep the 'Pro' suffix for the 9.7in, 10.5in and 12.9in models.

However, our colleagues at Macworld think an iPad Pro mini could be a thing and might arrive in autumn 2017. We shall wait and see.

How much will the new iPad 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 an iPad mini launch in September, based on 2015’s iPad mini 4 pricing, we can expect an iPad mini 5 to be priced as follows:

• 128GB Wi-Fi: £419
• 128GB Wi-Fi + 4G: £549

We could see a 256GB model, too. We expect that would cost around £499, or £599 with the additional 4G. 

Of course, this is based on it keeping similar specifications. If it's upgraded to 'Pro' status with a True Tone screen, four speakers and compatibility with the Pencil, expect those prices to be higher.

The iPad mini 4 is currently 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?

The iPad mini 5 could look very familiar to the iPad mini 4, with the same 7.9in Retina display. Some rumours claim it will be thinner than its predecessor: just 5mm thick.

If the tablet ever materialises, 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.

• 128GB storage as standard: The iPad mini 4 was initially offered in 16GB, 64GB and 128GB variants. It can now only be found in 128GB storage size.

• 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.

Follow Marie Black on Twitter.