Apple's new iPad 5 may look a lot like iPad mini

Apple's tablet competitors

Apple is about to reveal its next-generation iPads and it's likely the devices will get the biggest update in design since the original iPad came out in 2010.

(Read more: What to expect at Apple's upcoming event)

The Cupertino, Calif., company is expected to reveal the iPad 5 and the iPad mini 2 at an event in San Francisco on Tuesday and it's expected that the new full-size iPad will begin to look a little more like the iPad mini.

"We believe the retrofitted iPad 5 will prove to be the most important iPad upgrade since the first iPad went on sale on April 4, 2010," said Brian White, an analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald, on Monday in a client note. "Essentially, we believe the iPad 5 will take on some of the form factor characteristics of the iPad mini but with a 9.7-inch display."

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White has a "buy" rating on Apple's stock with a price target of $777.

White, who recently met with Apple suppliers in Taiwan and China, said that it's likely the iPad 5 will be 15 percent thinner than the iPad 4 and approximately 20 to 30 percent lighter. The width of the iPad 5 also will likely shrink by as much as 10 percent compared with the iPad 4, which is about 7.31 inches, White said. However, the iPad's display screen will likely stay the same size, he said.

"Despite our expectation of smaller width, we expect the size of the display to remain at 9.7 inches (diagonal) as Apple shrinks the front size black bezel that surrounds the LCD display," he said.

The iPad 5 will also steal some characteristics from the iPhone 5S, which launched in September.

(Read more: Nobody seems to want Apple's iPhone 5c)

Like the new iPhone, the device is expected to come in new colors, including a space gray, gold and silver. White said it's also likely that it gets Apple's new A7 application processor, which also is in the new iPhone 5S and would make the new iPad twice as fast as its predecessor.

There's also a reasonable chance that the device also will feature a a fingerprint sensor like the iPhone 5S, White said.

As for the iPad mini, it's not as likely to get as many significant updates, White said.

"Given our recent trip to Asia, our research suggests that the iPad mini 2 form factor will remain similar to the original iPad mini. In fact, we only expect incremental upgrades to the iPad mini 2 this week," he said.

While it is expected that the iPad mini 2 will also get a faster application processor, a new color scheme and an improved camera, there is less chance that Apple will include retina display in the device.

"There have been a plethora of media reports indicating that a Retina Display is coming to the iPad mini 2 this week; however, our research during our recent Asia trip was less conclusive of such a notion," White said.

By CNBC's Cadie Thompson. Follow her on Twitter @CadieThompson.